This article was written by Michael Everts, US Regional Manager at OfficeRnD, a coworking management platform for growing workspaces, and Co-Founder of SharedSpace.
Conference rooms today need to be agile and flexible in order to support working environments where physical barriers have been eroded.
Meeting rooms can be the most valuable and profitable asset of a flexible workspace.
A coworking space should offer a variety of meeting room environment to support different meeting types: impromptu, brainstorming, virtual, etc.
“Building the space in your image gives you the opportunity to uniquely showcase your brand vibe to guests. This is the feeling and essence of your space and much care and thought should be put into designing it. The same four white walls and windowless office that has worked in commercial real estate for the past 40 years is no longer viable nor attractive to your potential guest. Be creative, be different, and make your mark.”
– Michael Everts, US Regional Manager at OfficeRnD
Traditionally the conference room has been a large square table covered in wires, surrounded by chairs, a whiteboard, with a bulky television in the corner. These rooms were typically built and only used by one company at a time and were very rarely ever changed.
In coworking spaces today, conference rooms must be more agile and flexible to support working environments in which physical barriers have been eroded by the internet, causing more time spent in meetings than ever before. Moreover, meeting rooms are a significant profit asset for coworking spaces and improving their performance will not only improve member experience but will positively impact your revenue.
The majority of meetings today have only 2 – 3 people. Smaller meetings lead to faster decision making, and with more and more employees working remote, conference rooms, in general, have been shrinking in size. With many companies now working within an open floorplan it is vital that their employees have the private space in order to brainstorm and collaborate.
Ultimately, a conference room should have all the facilities and features required to make a meeting successful.
Variety of Environments
Coworking members perform many different types of work – whether writing a proposal or on a sales call – therefore, they will need a variety of environments to do their work effectively. Considering aspects like the location of your coworking space and the work style of your community will help you nail down how to plan and design your meeting rooms effectively.
It is important that your coworking location gives knowledge workers the correct physical space to do their best work. If your workspace doesn’t have the workspace they need, they will simply find another location that does.
When designing each space, it’s important to keep in mind the core function of the meeting room. For example, rooms that are focused on ideation and brainstorming might not even include a TV in the room at all, instead opting for a large whiteboard. Rooms with a focus on video conference should have a large display, with a centered camera to see all participants.
The furniture within the space also plays a huge role in room design and is arguably more important than the technology itself. A room with backless chairs and a high top table would normally be built for shorter impromptu meetings, where a room with a lounge sofa and coffee table would be designed for casual get together.
Pay close attention to the furniture you are selecting for your members and think about how it will impact the meeting experience.
Simplicity and usability of your space are one of the most important things to think about when designing conference rooms for your members.
You could have the most advanced and high tech conference room in the city – but if it is difficult to turn on the TV and switch the inputs, it will not be used to its fullest potential. It is imperative that the technology you outfit your conference rooms with is easily usable by both guests and staff.
Remember the more complicated a room is, the more time your staff will spend setting up and fixing issues for guests. Design your rooms to be simple, but impactful.
The most important physical connections your conference room must support are HDMI and Mini Displayport. While having wireless display technology is convenient, a dedicated cable is the most reliable and will guarantee your guests can always share their screen.
TV’s will output in HDMI – so whether you are running a cable directly from your TV, or from a nearby wall plate it is important that you have dongles available for your guests. HDMI to Mini Displayport dongles are needed the most within a space – and will connect with most Macs and PCs.
Newer computers are adopting USB C technology so an HDMI to USB C dongle would be helpful as well. Many coworking spaces will label the dongles with their business name or bright colors, so they don’t run away in someone’s laptop bag by accident.
While wireless connections are not as reliable as wired, they are often times more convenient.
For Apple customers, the Apple TV supports clients with Apple computers and iPhones. Other wireless screen sharing technologies do exist but many are not as reliable or require software to be downloaded.
Microsoft computers and many Android phones have standardized on the Miracast wireless display standard though Miracast is not as reliable as Airplay today. Miracast dongles that stick into your TV can be purchased online.
Make sure that there is physical signage in each room that directs guests on how to use the technology properly. Especially in rooms where setup is not obvious, the last thing you want is for guests to be frustrated and confused when using your room.
Aside from that, you might consider some kind of box or another container for all your cables and remotes. Whiteboards are an integral part of conference rooms and attractive looking glass boards have come down in price in recent years. Painting a wall with whiteboard paint is also an option – but these are often very difficult to clean on a regular basis.
Other accessories that you could use in your space, depending on its type, could include conference phones (though most people use their cellphones), a USB webcam for video calls, and power outlets for charging laptops.
Screen vs Projector
TV screens have become so affordable these days that outfitting conference rooms with large displays for content sharing is easier than ever before. A good rule of thumb when deciding on the size of the display is to make your display the size of the width of the table in the conference room.
Projectors are also an option for displays, but they are more expensive, and require more maintenance and expensive bulbs! Unless you have a very large space or a very large budget, a projector may not be the most cost-effective choice.
At the same time, projectors can leave a lasting impression in a meeting space, so if you are going for a wow factor, a projector could be the right route!
PRO TIP: Painting the wall behind your TV or projector a non-white color will make the colors in the display pop more.
Room Reservation Technology
Your space should incorporate some sort of room reservation technology to schedule meeting rooms to prevent your coworking space manager from dealing with conflicts between two businesses in the space who both thought they booked the room. Tablets that display upcoming bookings can be installed outside the rooms, and are generally powered through Power Over Ethernet (POE) cables.
Software platforms, such as OfficeRnD, can help manage the backend and frontend process of this experience and make it much easier for hosts and guests to book and schedule rooms.
Remember, a great meeting room is a tool in your members’ belt that will allow them to more effectively connect and communicate with their clients and their team. The better you can make your members look during their meetings, the more they will love your space and continue to bring more clients and new business.
This post is part of the ebook “The Ultimate Guide to Successfully Expanding Your Coworking Space”, which helps you nail down the expansion process from the initial evaluation of your current performance, through the analysis of the local market to the preparation for launch.