Meeting rooms for a hybrid workplace
Learn about the benefits of meeting rooms for a hybrid workplace, what factors to consider when choosing a meeting room, and explore the top meeting room layout ideas.
As some employees continue to work remotely while others go into the office more regularly, a hybrid workplace is becoming more prevalent. However, hybridity comes with the challenge of maintaining a productive and collaborative environment, where communication is sustained between both sides of the workforce.
Hybrid meetings fulfill that role, bringing everyone together to discuss ideas, stay on top of project and company updates, and support a sense of shared company culture. An essential part of running productive hybrid meetings is finding a suitable meeting room that accommodates your needs. This post outlines the benefits of meeting rooms, what to look for in a meeting room for a hybrid workplace, and explores the top meeting room layout ideas.
What is a meeting room
At its most basic level, a meeting room is a space designed to hold meetings. Meetings rooms are not only restricted to formal gatherings between team members but can also be used for client meetings, training sessions, happy hours, lunch breaks, board meetings, etc.
Difference between meeting room and conference room
The term meeting room is quite broad and therefore used in reference to rooms of all shapes and sizes. However, a “meeting room” often refers to smaller rooms dedicated to gatherings between team members or between a restricted number of people.
On the other hand, the term “conference room” refers to larger rooms that can accommodate large audiences and possess space and equipment for presentations.
What is a virtual meeting room?
Historically, the term “meeting room” was reserved for the physical space. However, the digitalization of the workplace, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, means that it is no longer the case.
A virtual meeting room is an online space for gatherings that replicates its physical counterpart but in the virtual world. Although the concept of gathering underpins both physical and virtual meeting rooms, they possess vital differences. Thanks to virtual meeting platforms, virtual meeting rooms are easier to access, encourage interactions in different forms (by voice or text), and facilitate team collaboration but more heavily rely on each individual’s technology.
During the COVID-19 lockdowns, virtual meeting rooms were the only available option. Yet, with the lift of restrictions and the drive to return to offices, we increasingly see the advent of a hybrid workplace. In that line, meeting rooms are becoming hybrid, where part of the participants joins from the office, and another part joins virtually.
Benefits of meeting rooms
Meeting rooms can serve as spaces for collaboration and creativity, as team members across departments can get to know each other or brainstorm ideas on new projects
Particularly for client or sales meetings, having a meeting room that reflects a professional image is beneficial since it inspires trust from the outset.
A meeting room affords participants the benefit of privacy, which is particularly relevant if the gathering addresses sensitive information.
For most people, working and conducting meetings in a noisy environment is far from ideal. Meeting rooms can boost concentration and spark creativity as participants are isolated from distractions.
Meeting rooms are often equipped with high-quality A/V equipment and Wi-Fi, which facilitates the connection with virtual participants and reduces the risks of technical difficulties.
What to look for in a meeting room
In a hybrid workplace, it is more than likely that some participants will be tuning in to your meeting virtually. In that context, having a meeting room with projectors, high-quality cameras, an audio system, and a high-definition screen is a differential. Additionally, look for a meeting room that offers fast, reliable, and stable Wi-Fi, so the meeting proceeds smoothly.
Look for a meeting room that allows you to be flexible with the use of space. For instance, consider rooms where you can move furniture according to the type of meeting or the number of participants in your session. Additionally, look for flexible booking arrangements to book the room only the number of hours you will use it.
Think about how accessible your meeting room is for people with disabilities, and don’t assume everyone will easily find and get to the room.
As outlined above, one of the main benefits of meeting rooms is their ability to enhance focus thanks to isolation from noise. To achieve this, look for a soundproof meeting room located in a quiet part of your office, which will avoid interference from outside noise.
Finding a room with good lighting is imperative for both the participants in the physical space and the image projected to the virtual participants. Natural lighting can lift people’s spirits and energy, while a dark room can do the opposite and drain the energy out of the room and reflect poorly on virtual participants.
Meeting room layout ideas
A boardroom-style layout usually consists of an oval or rectangular-shaped table and meeting participants seated around it. This configuration is suited to structured meetings focussed around an agenda but can also involve open discussions where each participant voices their opinion. This layout can be used for video conferencing in hybrid meetings; however, capturing all participants on video may be challenging.
The hollow square layout consists of tables that form a rectangular shape but leave an open space in the middle. It facilitates communication and is suited to collaborative working around a specific project. Although it may not prove the best layout for hybrid meetings, the space in the middle can be used by a moderator to guide discussions.
A U-shape layout involves rectangular tables that form a “U,” with meeting participants seated on the outer sides. This meeting room layout is an excellent configuration for hybrid meetings as people attending in-person can all see a presentation or video relayed by virtual participants.
An auditorium meeting layout (also known as “theatre”) is made up of consecutive rows of seats facing a central stage reserved for a speaker or audio-visual presentation. This setup is best suited to one-way conferences or meetings, such as a product launch, a CEO announcement or quarterly update, or an educational session where the interaction between participants is minimal. If the presentation or content is relayed virtually to in-person viewers, it may be used in a hybrid setting.
A classroom layout is similar to the auditorium set up, but with tables in front of meeting participants. This configuration may suit training sessions led by a speaker but allows questions and interaction from the audience.
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