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Meeting attendees will be focused on the whiteboard ahead of them, but what other furnishings fill the room? How tables, chairs and other furniture are selected and arranged in a conference room can mean the difference between time spent successfully coming up with new ideas and time spent staring at the clutter of cables in the corner of the room.
Selecting furniture that fosters the appropriate tone and style of a meeting is important. Here are the key items and things you need to consider for your next conference room design:
TableThis is more than just a place to rest your hands while focusing on the whiteboard. The table (or tables’) style, arrangement and size can make or break the chemistry of the meeting.
The table should fit the room. A small table in a large room leaves empty space that can distract attention; a large table in a small room will leave people feeling crowded and cramped. Plan for at least three feet of space around all tables.
The table’s shape can also accomplish a number of things:
• A rectangle or square table can be a great fit for rooms that match the shape, maximizing table surface area.
• Oval-shaped tables with rounded corners can allow for additional seating capacity and easier movement around the space.
• “Boat” or oblong-shaped tables can create ideal site-lines for all meeting participants by being longer at one end than the other, ensuring no one further down the table has to look through a head of hair to see what’s on the whiteboard.
• Round tables, made popular by King Arthur, allow equal seating and unobstructed sight. However, they may be an awkward fit in square rooms or smaller rooms that don’t allow enough space for the walkway.
ChairsNo one wants to play musical chairs before each meeting, so ensure that the room is stocked with enough seating by placing extra chairs around the perimeter of the room or, if space allows, have a few stacking or nesting chairs out of sight but still easily accessible.
With the average employee spending up to five hours a week in meetings, investing in comfortable chairs might literally save some butts (and backs). Employee health plan “bottom” lines will appreciate ergonomic designs that provide lumbar support and assist with proper posture, mitigating the need for chiropractic visits and other long-term health treatments.
AmenitiesAttention has a way of finding its way from the budget presentation at hand and latching on to any other visual stimulus in a room. Keep the room simple and free of clutter by providing a credenza or other storage unit to tuck away unused extension cords and cables.
Early morning meetings demand coffee and longer meetings might require water and snacks to keep attendees attentive and awake. To keep them from having to leave the room and hunt for what they need to keep the “hangry” at bay, consider providing a coffee maker or small refrigerator stocked with water bottles and other goodies.
Amenities like mini refrigerators are optional, but trash cans are not. Keep a trash can by the door so attendees can drop off items before or after the meeting without having to search for a waste receptacle.
Finishing TouchesA popular trend in modern conference room design is to add tasteful touches of nature. Potted and hanging plants have been shown to have a positive impact on employee mood. In rooms with particularly harsh acoustics, plants can also be used to soften sound. Artificial plants reduce the need for care and maintenance, but don’t discount the benefits of fresher air that living plants provide.
Subtle art pieces for the walls can help create a relaxed atmosphere or reinforce brand identity, but should be selected carefully. Avoid patterns or elements that might pull attention away from the task at hand.
Finding the items to complement your whiteboard or glassboard is not always as simple as it might seem. At Ghent, we have a variety of board options to get the conversation started.
Check out a few of our most popular boards that also come with a 50-year warranty:
• Our Porcelain boards won't ghost or stain.
• The Harmony line offers cool colors and won't ghost or stain.
• The Aria boards are exceptionally sleek, hide their hanging hardware and won't ghost or stain.
With these foundational furniture items thoughtfully selected, the only thing you’ll need to worry about is employees booking the room too often!