30 Jul 2018

A few things your boss always wanted to know about meeting rooms (but was afraid to ask)

Why make an obscure reference to a 70s provocative comedy about sex when introducing a blog post about meeting rooms?

Both can either be very pleasurable experiences, or ones you wish you didn’t have. Watching movies and reading meeting room articles, that is.

Yes, it did sound wrong. Now let’s see what makes it right.

Welcome to the (dis)comfort zone

Ever been to a stuffy, dull, badly lit meeting room, sat on a squeaky chair designed to produce back pain and/or farting sounds behind a colossal boardroom-style table embellished with an artificial plant and a telephone from the previous century?

If you have, my sincere condolences for your loss. May your productivity and unborn ideas rest in peace. I’m sure the boss of that company is tugging at his suspenders in frustration, wondering why a telegram hasn’t arrived, announcing that a deal has been struck.

Then again, have you ever ventured into a fishbowl-type room that has giant bean bags set around a miniature glowing club table with VR helmets protruding from the ceiling above, all arranged in the latest Feng Shui fashion?

If so, you might have ended up concentrating considerably harder on how to master your complimentary lightsaber pen than what’s being discussed at the meeting. In this case, the CEO has obviously been spending more time choosing beard balms than worrying about his meeting rooms being a tad too distracting.

Like the Buddha said, there’s a middle way. You don’t have to have a hipster amusement park to be fresh, nor a 1950s snooze chamber to appear professional. Simply minimize distractions and experiment with various designs that could boost meeting room productivity.

Fly your true colours

As the king or queen of an organization, the boss should know that the meeting room is a gateway to his or her kingdom.

First off, visitors and clients expect to feel welcome. Bribing them with a selection of beverages and tasty snacks (preferably unhealthy ones) is almost guaranteed to draw them in. Once hooked, the door is closed and their first impression can begin.

Coming in for a meeting is a sensory experience – what you see should be what you get. For example, if you’re a high-end law firm that charges a fortune for your services, make sure your meeting rooms are furnished in a corresponding manner. By doing so, you’ll avoid clients thinking: “I’m paying these guys a million per minute to be counselled in a room with IKEA shelves and second-hand desk lamps.”

Again, the middle way is the answer. Just like an architect’s office doesn’t need to decorate its walls with posters of skyscrapers, an insurance agency can skip the strategic placement of leaflets depicting horrific road accidents and premature deaths of spouses. We get it. Now keep it simple. And tasteful.

A meeting room represents a company’s personality, values and goals. If it’s portrayed badly or too enthusiastically, the entire place’s reputation, and consequently its boss’s, could be at stake. So before heads start rolling – bosses, remember: Clothes maketh the man, meeting rooms maketh your company!

Dad, Joe’s stolen my meeting room again

Imagine a company as a train. The employees are its fuel, the meeting room is the engine, and the boss is the engineer, responsible for ensuring the thing stays on track. Then you have a bunch of rowdy passengers who keep pulling the emergency stop lever. These are: overbookings, interruptions, room hijackings, etc.

The boss surely has enough on his plate without having to deal with constant complaints involving scheduling-related shenanigans. Which is why room booking systems are an organized leader’s best friend.

Why? Digital signage allows everyone to reserve a room on the spot, check if it’s engaged, and send out invites to colleagues and clients. A company’s “meetingsitter”, if you will.

That’s great, but what about the seniors? Won’t the older members of staff, notorious for pestering their grandchildren with how to open an email, be on their employer’s back day and night with how these gadgets work? No. They’re so user-friendly your grandmother could book her afternoon tea with the neighbour and tell her all about how simple it was.

Useful IT thingamajigs therefore won’t only cleanse the office environment of bitterness and daily quarrels, they’ll substantially prolong your boss’s life and keep the train rolling at full steam ahead.