What to think about when planning conference rooms

When planning an office move, or renovating an office, the planning of meeting rooms is key. This guide aims to give you some ideas on what to consider, from an IT point of view.The very first question, should always be, what is this room going to be used for?Think of every use case, e.g. one on one meetings, video conferencing, board meetings, office all hands, private phone calls etc. Once you understand exactly what the room is going to be used for, you can go about thinking of what is going to be required of this room.

TVs- There are many guides on line looking at size and positioning for a TV. However, these guides are usually aimed at residential living rooms. In a conference room, seating must be taken into account. Will users be sitting on a sofa or a chair? This will change the height of the TV.

In the same way that when you setup monitors on a desk, your resting eye level should be towards the top centre of the monitor, when people are sitting in a conference room, the TV should be at a comfortable level, that someone could sit there for 1, 2, or 3 hours without getting sore muscles.
Camera Positioning – To make video conferencing as immersive and natural as possible, it is important to get the camera positioning right. However, there are also other considerations, which in some cases, need to have a higher priority.
In our conference rooms, we like to position the camera just underneath the TV, mounted on the wall. This way, when someone is looking at the other person on the TV, their eyeline is just above the camera. Placing the camera on top of the TV often has the effect of looking down on people, which isn’t the best experience.
However! We have some exceptions to this rule. Low seating. In the past, we had a case where a meeting room had a low sofa, and a bean bag. The TV was lowered accordingly, and the camera was underneath the TV. During my testing of the system, everything worked great, picture was good, angle was good, a job well done. I then received a call from the client, 1 week later asking that we could move the camera on top of the TV. The reason being, I’m a man, I wasn’t wearing a skirt when testing the setup 😳. So camera positioning is important to think about.
Acoustics are really important to consider in a conference room also. The trend these days seems to be lots of glass in meeting rooms, big walls of the stuff. Whilst it looks great, and provides a sense of space, glass is a nightmare for acoustics.
Glass is a reflective surface, meaning that sound bounces off it very easily. For conference systems this can cause lots of audio issues. Microphones even on the best sound systems struggle to cope, as the sound bouncing around the room causes an echo, which is heard on the other side.
Choosing lots of soft furnishings in rooms such as these can make a huge difference. For example, thick curtains, even against a plain plasterboard wall, can look nice, and have a great impact on the reverberation. Sofas, soft fabric chairs, non glass/shiny desk surfaces all have their own impacts. Alternately, sound proofing tiles can be fitted to the ceilings or walls. These can also have a very positive impact.
Lastly, convenience. Do employees in your company often spend long periods of time in meetings? A great addition is permanently fixed chargers. Installing these is a great idea for 2 reasons. Firstly, people often forget chargers in their bags, and have to leave meetings part way through to grab them, secondly, people need to plug them in, which creates mess, and sometimes leads to other things being unplugged, causing a headache for the next user of the room.
Installing a range of chargers that poke out the centre of the table, such as iPhone, Android and Mac chargers means all a user needs to do is reach over and plug in, no mess!

Hopefully this post gives you a little more to think about. There are of course many other aspects to designing great conference rooms for great experiences. If you are considering moving office or maybe just improving some aspects of your conference rooms, we have dedicate IT Support staff, and conference room experts, get in touch!

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