October 2011 Archives

Five Conference Room Mistakes

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Make the most of your conference table investment, and avoid these five common mistakes:

The table is the wrong size for the conference room.
A table which is too large for a small conference room will feel cramped. If the overcrowding is extreme, it may even cause the room to be too warm during full meetings due to lack of airflow. On the other hand, a small conference table in a very large room will appear lost. Either way, a conference table which is the wrong size for the room may make meeting attendees feel uncomfortable. We recommend a minimum of 42" around the conference table on all sides. This leaves room for chairs and to move around the room. 48" of space is preferred for a spacious feel.

The conference room serves too many functions.
A formal conference room is often the least frequently used room in the office, and the temptation to use it for other purposes can be irrestistable. Your conference room can multi-task as long as you don't go overboard. For instance, storage in the conference room is fine, if it means tidy bookshelves full of reference volumes. But cardboard boxes stacked to the ceiling or the pile of "old computer parts to be recycled" should stay out of the conference room.

We once saw a conference room which also served as the connecting passage between two halves of an office suite! When the conference room was in use, employees were forced to exit the suite and walk all the way around to the back door to access the kitchen or bathroom. That was an attempt to economize which resulted in continual inefficiency and inconvenience.

Not enough space per person at the conference table.
Do you know the maximum number of people who will use your table at one time? We like to allow at least 30" per chair (28" minimum), and for an executive conference table, 36" per person spacing allows larger chairs and a more spacious feel. You don't want to buy a conference table designed for 10, and then find that you have 14 people shoulder-to-shoulder at your monthly meeting. 


On the other hand, you may be a small organization with only a few attendees at typical meetings, and only need to completely fill the table once a year or so. In that case we often recommend storing most of the chairs, only leaving enough chairs out for everyday meetings. Sitting at one end of the table, surrounded by empty chairs, may make your regular staff feel uncomfortable. Removing the extra chairs except when needed will help make your table feel like the right size even at smaller meetings.
See our Conference Table Seating page for more information.

The room is not set up for power and wiring in the conference table.
Before ordering a conference table, think about how the table will be used and whether power/data will be necessary. Ideally this decision will be made while the conference room is still in the planning stages, as floor outlets are often placed under the pedestals. If this is overlooked, or is impossible due to structural issues, cables can be run from the base of the pedestal to a wall outlet. But this is both unsightly and a potential safety hazard.
See our posts on Conference Table Power for more information.

The conference room is poorly lit.
Proper lighting is essential for a productive conference room. The harsh lighting often found in commercial office spaces may make attendees feel uncomfortable, while lighting that is too dim can leave attendees unable to focus during long meetings. Windows which bring in natural light can brighten a room, but they can also ruin meetings if the sun shines directly into the eyes of half the people at the conference table. If your conference room has windows, check the room at various times of the day to see if direct sunlight will be a problem. And if you have any concerns about the lighting in your conference room, consider hiring an interior designer or space planner.