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Office essentials: the conference room

Business
7 min read
Office essentials: the conference room
Simone Hjorth
January 9th, 2019

Continuing our analysis of the core elements that make an office space a success, we investigate what a well-functioning conference looks like – and if it’s something you need

The Tank. That’s supposedly what one of the Pentagon’s ultra secure, window-less conference rooms for Joint Chiefs is called. The Tank, conference room, assembly room, boardroom – sometimes just a meeting room. Whatever you call yours, it’s a fixture in many companies.

As the workforce changes and we slowly embrace more remote workers and other company structures than the rigid office hierarchy, so does the office space. One thing that doesn’t change, however, is the need to meet. For some meetings and people, the perfect place is a conference room.

Unlike our previous articles in this series – which covered relatively new office essentials like all-hands rooms, office pods, huddle rooms – the conference room is a relatively well-known concept and a fixture in an office space. Nevertheless, it can be challenging to pin down just what makes a conference room a “conference room”.

In this article, we hope to bring some clarity to what the conference room, its purpose, and what sort of companies could benefit from it in their workspace.

Curious about the rest of our office essentials? So far, we’ve tackled the All-hands room, office pods and huddle rooms.

The conference room essentials:

  • Conference rooms are for conference calls, board meetings, management discussions, and other major decision-making situations
  • They are some of the most elaborate meeting rooms in an office, both in terms of AV gear and furniture
  • Only companies of a certain size or maturity will truly need conference rooms. Smaller, collaborative workspaces, perhaps not so much

What is a conference room?

Staff meet-ups, client meetings, training sessions, interviews and other scheduled conferences (video or in-person). The conference room is medium-sized or large and is likely a room that caters to monthly reviews, board meetings and sharing info across teams – and yes, you guessed it, conference calls.

Man presenting to his colleague in front of a screen in a meeting room

In our earlier piece in the “office essentials” series, we covered the all-hands room. Whereas the all-hands room should be big enough to accommodate the entire staff, a conference room varies in size, but generally accommodates 5-20 people, depending on the size of your company and team.

While similar in size and presentation, you could argue that the key differentiator between a conference room and an all-hands room is the audience. A conference room fits right in within a more enterprise-oriented business, and might be a little more “suit and tie.”

It’s also the place where a board meeting would be held and should come with a degree of severity to reflect that.

A conference room gives you a chance to connect with your entire workforce and clients, no matter where they’re located, because it’s fully equipped with conferencing gear and easy to use technology.

The key elements of a conference room

Setting budgets, conducting interviews, closing client deals, and setting a new direction for the company. They all have the conference room in common; where a majority of all important decisions could be best made. But how do you make sure it’s an effective space for problem-solving and critical thinking? The answer lies in what you put inside the four walls of the conference room.

Ready to use

For a conference room with many frequent external visitors and clients coming in, it’s of the utmost importance to find the right equipment that’s simple to use for both employees and guests.

Elaborate

Whereas some of the other rooms you’re likely to encounter in an office environment require versatile furniture that can be used both for formal and informal settings, the conference room likely isn’t one of them.

That’s because of the formality of what goes on in the room, and the need for the room to be always ready for clients and executive discussions. A vital room such as the conference room is a little less lax than other rooms, and the equipment and furniture should reflect that.

Formal meeting room including an Airtame device

The right furniture makes all the difference. An oval, rectangle or U-shaped conference table is a must, and so are comfy, yet corporate chairs that are comfortably spaced to allow enough elbow room. This is not the place to cut expenses as the conference room is what clients and other guests encounter first, and thus a great way to make a good first impression.

Bookable

Conference rooms are mostly for larger meetings, often with external visitors or clients. Because of that, we advise that conference rooms should be booked in advance.

Conference rooms also tend to be more elaborately equipped, with tools reserved for specific purposes, and therefore shouldn’t be occupied at whim.

AV tools

A conference room is a space for conference calls. That’s why it’s essential to have a big enough screen, good web camera and conferencing system so people can be seen and heard. Smartboards and whiteboards could also prove useful.

Comfortable lighting

Lighting has a significant impact on the quality of a meeting or the presentations within. Harsh lighting wears people out quickly or might even provoke headaches – not something you want in your business meeting. Go for something that isn’t too direct and feels natural, comfortable.

Privacy and isolation

Because of its purposes, the conference room should have a degree of isolation, privacy, and soundproofing. Think of it as one of the main places to have confidential conversations (board meetings, product launch talks, classified information). Thin walls or too many glass panels will give away the topics of discussions while a well-designed conference room allows you to keep it inside.

Meeting happening in a private meeting room

How to set up successful conference rooms

Make it neutral, not flashy or overly distracting. Because the conference room is very business-oriented, you should outfit it with a board table, or at least an “in-the-round” setting.

While all that sounds stiff, a conference room is also an excellent space for reminding employees and guests alike of your company values. Showcase them on the wall and use them as both a means to steer the conversation and shape your decision making.

Adding a dash of your company spirit or tasteful art will elevate the room and provide a nicer, more cozy atmosphere for employees and clients to conduct their business.

Image of a person customising meeting rooms according to company values

Even the color on the walls can change the whole atmosphere. Go for calm, douce colors light like pastels to promote focus and relaxation. Brighter colors, on the other hand, invoke creativity and passion – great for innovation. In a conference room setting, we recommend the subtler tones.

The conference room is not the place for lounging or solo activities but should be reserved for management meet-ups and other important decision-making situations. That’s why bean bags or other types of lounge furniture is a no-go here, whereas a large meeting table is a must, and so is comfortable conference chairs (we’re talking chairs with armrests and good back support).

Conference room technology

Because the conference room is used for monthly reviews, data presentations, board meetings and so forth, visual displays are needed to highlight relevant information, and interconnectivity is key.  

Airtame really steps up to the mark here. It is a wireless streaming solution that works well and is simple enough for people of all IT skill sets. It’s the kind of reliable conference room tech that makes meetings run without difficulties. It’s also platform-agnostic, which means that people can join with their individual devices and share information smoothly. 

Man presenting in a meeting room in front of a screen connected to Airtame

Good conference room gear is often priced pretty steeply, a fact that keeps many from getting the right solution for them. Not Airtame, though. It’s budget-friendly, and besides that designed with your convenience in mind – because conference room tech shouldn’t take center stage, just like the price

Are conference rooms for you?

Conference rooms are arguably only necessary for companies of a certain size or stature. They hold a symbolic weight of the hierarchical structure, and distance (often the board table) between employees. They are maybe not so relevant for companies with a more flat hierarchy and “open” work environment – like the one we have at Airtame.

If you’re a smaller-sized organization, you might not have the space needed to provide a good conference room setting. But fear not, there are several shared office space or coworking spaces out there that let you rent a room for single purposes or events. Check out our post on some of our favorite coworking spaces here

If you do have the size and maturity that calls for conference rooms, remember that they will be the face of the company. A poorly designed conference room with bulky, outdated tech solutions and ancient furniture doesn’t signal success when your clients come to visit you, nor will it foster good business practice.

A well-designed conference room, on the other hand, with state-of-the-art tech gear, modern details and a pinch of personality creates an atmosphere of relevancy and confidence.

Got an Airtame question? Reach out to our customer success team
Simone Hjorth
My job is to put together words in a delightful, entertaining, and sometimes moving way. 1 part techno enthusiast, 2 parts cat lover, 3 parts creative writer. Too many parts?

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