Generation Z are now holding important positions within companies and employers are shaping the workplace to suit their needs. Gen Z prefers working in collaborative and breakout areas. Having a collaborative meeting space is not only used by employees. It can also be used for a place to meet clients, to hold training sessions and for conducting interviews.
The focal point of any meeting room is the table and it can be challenging choosing one that meets all of these needs. Here are some considerations to help you to decide.
Placement & Space
The placement of the meeting table is the first consideration as the room’s centrepiece becomes the table itself. You need to be concerned about how much space you have to work with, ensuring you leave enough room for seating and equipment but also movement. Collaborative spaces now have smaller tables providing more space for people to move around and present.
The type of table dictates seating placement which can change the mood and how people collaborate in a room. Here are four meeting table shapes and how they can be used effectively.
Rounded meeting tables encourage collaboration, and not hierarchy. There is no obvious head or leader position therefore, no one has more power than anyone else. The important redeeming quality here is equality.
This shape of a round table is ideal for collaborative work environments, team building meetings and strategy planning groups as it promotes a common goal. This can also mean that it may be harder to come to a clear decision as round shaped tables discourages leadership.
Rectangular meeting tables are used from boardrooms to dining rooms. These kinds of tables are functional and a classic choice for the boardroom. It conveys hierarchy and power positions because those at the head(s) of the table can see everyone and more easily assert their authority. Increasing the length of table will increase the power distance respectively between those on the sides and those on the end. This is the reason why long tables are more likely used in executive board rooms, rather than collaborative sessions.
Long and Thin Tables
A table that is long and thin like a banquet dinner table tends to create an environment of “communication zones”. People at the one end of the table are discussing a specific topic while the people at the other end are holding a completely different conversation. Communication becomes harder and harder when attendees are too far apart. To conclude, a long thin table is not the ideal solution for businesses wishing to reach a valid conclusion.
A U-shape meeting table is beneficial during business presentations, video conferences, or product demos. The reasons why: the presenter will always be able to easily hand out materials to both sides of the table, while still maintaining face-to-face meeting requirements for a large group of attendees. These type of tables can save a lot of space and this efficiency can give the room a more “productive feel”. As soon as an attendee enters a meeting room that has a U-shaped meeting table, he/she will subconsciously be aware of the more information-based, investigative atmosphere.
What Else Should I Keep In Mind?
- Selecting the right chairs for your meeting space are just as important as the table. Do you want people to have long lasting comfort or do want to keep people on their toes? Comfortable seating can be used for longer negotiations or presentations but if you would like to keep meetings short then having more rigid seating can keep people from getting too comfy.
- It is always a good idea to provide refreshments for your attendees as hungry clients can easily lose concentration during long meetings. There are some creative tables that have been designed to include built in fridges and compartments for storing drinks.
- Why not get creative and break out of the norm. There are lots of unusual ideas for collaborative meeting tables including built in plants, ping pong table bolt-ons and table tops that you can draw on.
- Wire management boxes must be attached under a table, or run vertically alongside it to prevent possible accidents. You can now even create in-depth phone conference systems that provide mics for each seating position.
From internal meetings to long and difficult negotiations, you want to ensure that your conference room leaves an excellent impression on your attendees mind. You may not think that a table’s shape can have so much power but as illustrated throughout the article, a table can indeed change a group’s dynamics. Happy planning, good luck!
Paul Ramsey is the Director of OFAI Office Furniture. Paul’s 25 years of experience has given him an industry expertise of office furniture, and how to create a productive and ergonomic working environment.