According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, the conference room is no longer just a place to hold meetings and take conference calls – it’s a battleground.

Why? One reason the article cites; a lack of space. With private office space continuously dwindling, meeting rooms are now being utilized more than ever by more individuals. While many meetings used to take place in private offices, it simply isn’t an option in most modern day workplaces where private offices are a thing of the past. Instead, the conference room is used in its place. With more individuals using these conference rooms, the conflicts over them are on the rise. These conflicts come in the form of double booking conference rooms, going over your meeting time slot and having to boot coworkers and superiors from the conference room who go over time. This results in unneeded tensions in the office as well as a lot of confusion – both of which distract from work that needs to be done.


So how do we solve the battle over the conference rooms?


Have clearly defined conference room rules and etiquette


In order to dispel unneeded tensions and distractions, having a code of conduct for conference room usage can go a long way. It may feel a bit stilted, especially in a company with a more laid back culture, but it’s an effective method nonetheless. Ensure that everyone knows what the constraints are and how they are expected to act. This can be achieved through various means such as a company-wide email or a quick meeting detailing the issues and the new rules that will be put in place to solve them. For example, making it clear that meetings should not go over the reserved time can help people avoid clashes and also force more productive meetings. Constraints can be powerful motivators – knowing that they really only have a half hour to get everything done can keep people more on task during meetings.


Create more space for meetings


The most obvious way to solve this problem is to add more conference rooms. In some instances, this may be all that is needed. Perhaps there is an unused office that can easily be converted to a meeting space by adding the appropriate furniture items. Finding items in the right size for your room is absolutely vital. Feel free to read our Guide to Setting Up a Conference Room in order to ensure that the space will have everything that your workplace needs. However, we understand that for most businesses adding another conference room is not a simple prospect. Space comes at a premium and most of it is probably being used. If that’s the case, it’s time to think creatively about how you can use the space you currently have.


Think about the office building as a whole, not just your floor.


Many office buildings will have general conference rooms available for use. Some even offer these spaces free of charge – you simply have to sign up. Consider if this is an option for your company. There are also many furniture options that allow you to create separate office spaces. Using dividers and partitions allows you to section off a designated meeting space that teams can use when the other conference rooms are booked. Dividers don’t have to be boring either; LOFTwall creates incredibly stylish ways to divide and section off spaces.


Consider adding a collaborative functionality to the break room.


In most companies, the break room is occupied for only about two to three hours of the day. This means that for the other five to six hours, it stands almost completely empty. Outfitting your break room with multi-purpose furniture will allow teams to use the break room as a meeting space without disturbing anyone. Some such multi-functional furniture would include couches and adjustable height tables, like this option from Right Angle which does double duty as both a markerboard and working surface. With such products, employees can choose how to best use the furniture to suit their needs, whether collaborating or resting.


Need help finding conference room furniture that works? Call our furniture experts at (800) 558-1010 or peruse our full selection of conference furniture here.


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