While much of today’s office work can be completed remotely, one of the biggest draws of working on-site continues to be employee collaboration – something that was seriously lacking during the worst of the pandemic.
Demand for in-person collaboration has grown. In fact, meeting room bookings increased more than three times in the second half of 2021 compared to the first half. This stat reflects the need for collaborative spaces.
Meeting Room Usage is Trending Up
Employees are looking for more than just a place to gather in person. They need spaces that can support hybrid meetings with remote employees. As the return-to-office continues, it stands to reason that demand for meeting rooms will continue to increase in tandem. Here are some ways you can prepare for an increase in demand for meeting rooms:
Listen to Your Employees
Survey your employees to understand what type of meeting spaces they prefer. You may have too many of one type or not enough of another, resulting in the underuse of available rooms.
Use conference room scheduling software to help people easily find and book a room.
The growth in meeting room demand is a signal that employees find value in collaborating on-site. To support this, take action to optimize your meeting room space and make the booking experience painless.
Equipping the Room
When considering how to improve the design of a meeting room, it’s often best to start with the basics. Fleshing out the essential elements of the space, based on user needs, will help provide a base for your creative choices and lead to a much better experience for your employees.
It’s necessary to understand how the room will be used and identify key requirements. For example, will people need to move the chairs around and swivel to look at a screen? If so, a requirement might be chairs on casters that can swivel. Alternatively, if the room is meant for creative work, you might want to provide alternative seating that encourages more freedom.
As for tables and surfaces, consider not just size, but usage. Do you expect people to be primarily standing or sitting? If they use the room for standing meetings, you might require a standing or height-adjustable table. Do the tables need to be moved?
What about outlets for mobile devices – this need could be met with USB ports or wireless charging. Beyond tables and chairs, more furniture considerations exist. Do you need in-room storage for meeting supplies? Whiteboards?
As our world becomes more technologically advanced, audiovisual technology is now an imperative part of modern meeting rooms. Some core pieces to include in your selection of technology include screens/displays and communication devices.
Remember to imagine how each bit of technology will be used in each room. Not every room requires a screen or a communication device, and rooms should be appropriately outfitted based on their purpose. Some rooms might benefit from a traditional whiteboard and marker, while others might require advanced teleconferencing tools such as high-quality cameras and microphones. Most rooms might simply need an easy-to-use AV presentation system.
Lighting is vital to the meeting room experience. Soft lighting might result in participants dozing off. On the other hand, harsh lighting might not be conducive to reading and viewing screens. Once again, understanding the purpose of the room is crucial in building lighting requirements. For rooms that are designed to be comfortable, cozy spaces, softer lighting is often necessary. Large boardrooms might require more brightness, and rooms with projectors might require dimming lights.
Lighting is also heavily dependent on the location of the room. If the room has a lot of natural light, you might have to look at controlling daylight with blinds. For rooms without windows, light must be a primary consideration in room design.
Meeting the Demand
As demand increases, employees are booking their meeting rooms further in advance. In early 2021, it was normal for employees to reserve a room just a couple of hours in advance. Now that workplace traffic has increased, those same people are booking on average more than 24 hours in advance.
It is extremely important that your employees have access to highly functional meeting rooms without any trouble. When people can work efficiently and get stuff done while on-site, they’re more likely to want to return to the workplace.
Meeting rooms are in high demand. You’re doing the hard work to get people back in the office. Now, be certain that your employees have access to the spaces they need to be happy and productive!
Interested in learning more about CMBA’s approach to architecture? Click here!