Meeting rooms are the heart of most offices. One can hardly argue their importance for the business. But are they supporting the way we work today? Are they supporting our businesses as much as they could? I would say that many companies are wasting a big opportunity because of inadequate meeting spaces.
In my earlier blog post I wrote that future meeting spaces will be designed around the people using them rather than around the presentation technology used. I can see this happening already today and in the process it is being acknowledged that there are different types of meetings that can be best supported with different types of environments. Here are a few examples.
In today’s working life your ability to learn is often perceived to be more important than the skills you already possess. Therefore, working environments must offer meeting spaces where learning and co-creation can easily happen. A good example is the desk-less classroom that is becoming more and more popular in schools. Why shouldn’t the same principles work also for the office? What if we had meeting rooms where table tops with castors could be easily re-arranged for any shape or size needed? Or rooms that encourage you to stand and move around or simply chat comfortably on a sofa?
Physically but not mentally apart
A totally different thing is a one-to-one meeting on Skype. What would be the best place for that? Certainly not the traditional meeting room with seats for ten people.
Maybe the best alternative could be a phone booth with see through glass walls and a beautiful landscape picture behind your back. The glass walls would make you feel less claustrophobic and also allow you to feel a part of the working environment. The beautiful picture behind your back, on the other hand, could give inspiration to your meeting partner on the other end of Skype.
A board meeting to unite
Then there are those board meetings and such where you simply have to have the papers and laptops in front of everyone and some good presentation technology visible for all. How to make these meetings more invigorating for all the participants?
There’s a study that says that a meeting room with chairs arranged in a circle makes the participants of the meeting feel more intergroup belonging. But when the seating includes an angle – as it often does in many office conference rooms – the focus shifts to expressing uniqueness and being distinct. Both can be useful in a board meeting, so could also the conference rooms have flexible furniture arrangements where the furniture could be very easily arranged either in circles or in angles depending on the desired behaviour?
All in all, I believe that in the near future, we’ll start to meet in many different ways and not just around a restricting conference table. Let’s not restrict ourselves to old habits.
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