Meetings aren’t all that popular. But they seem even worse when you experience them in hard chairs, in cold rooms, with equipment that’s positioned in a way that makes it hard to use.
If you’re interested in increasing employee productivity and engagement, you may want to start with your workspaces. According to the Steelcase 2016 Global Report, disengaged employees make up about a third of the workforce.
The good news is that the study also found that employee satisfaction and engagement are directly correlated to workplace satisfaction. Employees who are more satisfied with their workspace—including factors such as temperature, lighting, and furniture, as well as technology, mobility, and ease of collaboration—are more satisfied and engaged overall.
Steelcase found that of highly engaged employees, 96 percent were satisfied with their computer and other equipment, and 96 percent felt their workspace encouraged collaboration and teamwork. On the flip side, only 41 percent of disengaged employees were satisfied with their computer and equipment, and only 22 percent felt their workspace encouraged collaboration and teamwork.
So what does this mean for employers? It means that investing in room design upfront—especially when it comes to access to tools like video conferencing—will pay large dividends in engagement and productivity later on.
Common room design misconceptions
When it comes to room design, some think you should design the room first and think about your AV needs later.
However, retrofitting an existing room for AV requirements is more expensive than integrating AV from the start. And, in some cases, your room design might not even be able to accommodate your AV requirements and you’re back to the costly drawing board.
Your AV system interacts with everything in the room and, if possible, should be part of the design discussion even before construction starts.
Another common misconception is that room design and AV design considerations only matter for conference rooms and huddle spaces.
But, the Steelcase study found that 88 percent of highly engaged employees could choose where to work in the office based on the task, and 98 percent were able to move around to different workspaces throughout the day.
That means that engaging room design is not just critical for formal meeting rooms and huddle spaces, but also for lobbies, break rooms, individual offices, and elsewhere. Employees are happier if they can work anywhere, and that means you need a wide range of spaces equipped to support them.
According to the 2016 Gensler Design Forecast, a “collage” of workspace configurations is rapidly becoming the new normal, with an emphasis on versatile settings that can support fast-paced, project-centered work and a variety of modes. Putting all your room and AV design eggs in the conference room basket discourages engagement, productivity, and flexibility.
Room design pitfalls to avoid
Every company and every workspace has different AV and room design needs, but there are some universal pitfalls that should be avoided in every case.
- Don’t put aesthetics before quality. You want your workspaces to look nice, of course, but usability is more important. For example, ceiling microphones might interfere with the decoration’s vision, but they may also provide the best sound quality for productive, engaging meetings.
- Don’t discount the importance of furnishings. Your AV system interacts with everything in the room. Are there hard floors and other surfaces that will interfere with sound quality in the room? Is your table so big it places viewers too far from the display screen? Do you have somewhere to store your cables and wires?
- Don’t focus too much on “fixed technology.” According to the Steelcase report, 86 percent of global workers have landlines and 80 percent have desktop computers. Mobile technology can be an enabler for increased productivity and engagement, but many companies don’t take this into consideration when designing workspaces. Remember that the most highly engaged workers have the flexibility to choose where they work—both inside and outside the office. Room designs that don’t accommodate technologies like laptops, smartphones and tablets restrict that choice.
What the pros know
The rules of engaging room design are ever-evolving, but follow these pro tips and you’ll be on the right track.
- Make AV part of your room design from the beginning.
- Know your organization’s needs and design to meet them.
- Seek expert advice.