Recently, our client VaynerMedia moved into a new office space at 10 Hudson Yards in Manhattan. Naturally, the workplace was outfitted with offices and personal work areas, but it also featured meeting rooms—lots of meeting rooms for different kinds of conferencing, from two-person get-togethers for discussions among a handful of people to large, town hall-style meetings for company-wide agendas.
Providing a range of meeting and conferencing areas was a smart move. After all, to work efficiently, business teams need to confer in different capacities during the course of everyday work. More than that, individuals favor different types of conferencing arrangements to work their best, making the availability of various meeting options a smart business move.
In fact, VaynerMedia has gone as far as providing closed, open and semi-open communal meeting areas, including large café and pantry meet-up spaces with farm tables of different sizes for seated work; windowed nooks fitted for semi-exposed, small-scale meetings in the midst of open workstation layouts; and semiprivate divisions with high-back sofas and partitions centered around a coffee table for focused conferencing with partial acoustic capability. Beyond that, the firm’s enclosed meeting rooms double or triple as video conferencing spaces with touch television screens and high-scale connectivity options, all in response to the company’s employee density, past experiences, current needs and ongoing trends.
Like some high-tech, fashion and media companies, another one of our clients—a tech firm located at 387 Park Avenue South—had us incorporate stadium-style seating for larger gatherings and informal chats, along with a feature stairway that allows for spur-of-the-moment chats among crisscrossing colleagues. Even select financial services companies are going beyond their traditionally conservative leanings and embracing variable kinds of meeting options.
Consider this: Of the clients we’ve surveyed in the past two years, 35 percent of them requested huddle room designs for four to six people. Among the other meeting needs were conference rooms and pantry, telephone booth-style areas for mini-meetings, especially within the technology, advertising, media and information sector.
According to meeting room statistics from Knoll’s Metrics of Distributed Work report—of course there are statistics on that!—the utilization rate of small meeting rooms for two to seven people is about 20 percent higher than those for large and extra-large meeting rooms, meaning those for eight or more people. In fact, data collected by the report’s respondents, including corporate real estate and facilities directors, plus vice presidents, showed that extra-small meeting rooms had the highest usage rate at 73 percent, where one or two people could confer for coaching and interviewing sessions. Second in popularity of use were small meeting rooms, at 64 percent, for team meetings and brainstorming sessions among three to seven people. The usage rate of large meeting rooms was 54 percent, and extra-large spaces for 13 people or more was 44 percent.
Likewise, we’ve found that smaller spaces are in greater demand among our clients with four-person rooms the most desired, as the spaces’ size allow for the ultimate in flexibility, including a place for small group meetings, a quiet retreat for solo work by a staff member or visitor and the ability to convert them into a private office, if needed.
As for me, set me up in a four- to six-person conference room with full connectivity, including a smart computer and wall-mounted touch-screen monitor. Remember to give me plenty of room to roam the perimeter to keep my energy going and ideas flowing and offer staff solutions that keep people’s eyes up, not down on a table, to encourage engagement and interaction. But that’s me.
Talk with your clients or your team about their favorite ways to work in groups and which scenarios they like to avoid. In the end, it’s likely that a combination of flexible, multipurpose meeting solutions will serve them best, always with present and future direction in mind.