8 Jul 2018

Meeting room design boosts productivity

Our mood matters. It affects the way we perceive the world around us and how we interact with our environment. In fact, it’s likely the most important ingredient of the human condition. And as we spend up to 50% of our workdays in meetings, these should be held in spaces where we feel good.

“Happiness, the feeling of positivity, really is the foundation of productivity,” says WeWork co-founder and CEO Miguel McKelvey.


But feeling good is a reciprocal phenomenon. Just as our mood is influenced by our job, the latter is influenced by us. Here are some tips on how to adapt our meeting areas to boost and maintain a productive and creative workflow.

One room doesn’t fit all.

The thing with meeting rooms is they involve different events with different objectives. This generates challenges and makes it hard to design and equip rooms so that they always meet the specific demands of their occupants.

Start by defining the needs of departments and individuals in the company and what sort of meetings you hold. Once you have an overview of needs, you should also look into past activities that took place in particular meeting rooms. This will give you an insight into how individual rooms worked or where they fell short. If you have several meeting rooms, a wise idea would be to design each according to function and purpose.

Size matters.

Each type of meeting room requires its own amount of space. Quick one-on-one sessions aren’t meant to take place in giant high-tech boardrooms, just as you don’t want scores of employees fruitlessly searching for a room that meets their technical requirements. That’s why we have focus rooms for phone calls and private discussions, huddle rooms for video conferencing or whiteboard brainstorming, conference rooms for larger meetings, most often with clients or external visitors.  

Bright colors, bright ideas.

Studies have found that bland colors (white, grey, and beige) induce feelings of sadness and depression. Calm colors (shades of blues and greens) promote productivity, focus, and relaxation. The palettes most found in nature promote an overall sense of well-being. Cheerful yellows are considered shades of optimism and are said to trigger creativity and innovation.

Round tables for rounded discussions, soft chairs for serious talks.

Round tables encourage discussion. Whether used for creative meetings to start larger projects or for internal presentations prior to meeting with clients, the round table makes it possible to inform, share knowledge, make plans and have equal standing while doing so.  In a large meeting room with a rectangular meeting table, soft conference chairs with arm rests can invite participants to a longer discussion on serious matters. In this way, you signal to participants that they can lean back comfortably and prepare for a longer sitting.

Keep your coffees and comps close at hand.

A useful approach to avoid interruptions caused by entering and exiting the room is to have certain necessities on standby. Stock a multimedia cabinet in each meeting room with chargers, cords, tablets, etc. Bring in drinks, like coffee or water, and snacks, such as fresh fruit or granola bars.

Lighten up.

It’s a common yet too often still neglected fact that people thrive in natural light.   Good lighting encourages satisfaction, which in turn improves productivity. Windows and eliminating fluorescent lighting is a must whenever possible. It goes without saying that blinds or shutters should be installed so screens can be seen.

You have the right to stand up.

To counteract negative side effects of hours-long inactivity, standing meeting rooms were introduced. These are a superb excuse for employees to stand up, increase circulation, move around and feel healthier while collaborating. Greater productivity guaranteed. The layout these rooms provide are often set up on the fringes of open office floor plans, using bar-height meeting tables, optional stools, and integrated tech.

Nothing like a nice stroll to get the productive juices pumping.

You have to admit that the best conversations are often those had during a relaxing walk. Which is why an increasing number of companies are adding covered green patios, rooftop gardens with group spaces, and landscaped paths for walking meetings. By immersing staff in natural surroundings that are available just outside your building’s doors and using a shared calendar to designate meeting points, you are sure to set the stage for a stream of original ideas and productive behaviour.   

What’s in a name?

“Companies that name their meeting rooms according to themes are doing so to communicate their values and organizational culture to their employees, customers, clients, and all who enter,” says organizational psychologist Sarah Brazaitis. Sounds legit. To foster creativity, it’s important to create an environment that screams originality and inventiveness. Selecting a cool name for your meeting space will make everyone feel at ease.

Smart is what smart does.

Equipment or amenities, such as projectors, interactive boards and a stable Wi-Fi connection, are a must in providing a more productive working experience. Another useful IT solution to employ is a room booking system. These allow for smoother sailing as far as efficiency, privacy and scheduling are concerned.

OK, you’ve got the know how. Now do as philosopher Alan Watts suggests and “stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence.” In other words, strive for a pleasant work environment and you just might find you enjoy it a lot more than you originally thought.