Re-Imagining Meetings - The Art of Workplace Engagement

Meetings, we've all been there. Sat in a brightly lit, stuffy room while a colleague tries their best to keep you engaged as you slowly drift off. You're still hearing but you're not listening. Wouldn't it be great if there were solutions to make meetings more exciting, engaging and even fun?

One person at the top of the table with a PowerPoint, or a group crowded round print outs is never going to excite our information hungry brains. Neither is travelling in to the office for one meeting when you could otherwise be at home, in a collaborative space or lying on the beach. 

Technology, room design, lighting and furniture can all play a major role in keeping you and your colleagues engaged. Read on to find out more.

1. Location

People hangout together at coffee shop

Do you need to have your meeting in the usual place? Can you go outside, hire a space, allow people to dial in from other locations or have it in your favourite coffee shop. They say a change is as good a rest and this is very true when trying to keep your workforce happy. Allow them to work from somewhere different or meet in a place which is less 'officey' and you'll be surprised by the results. 

We love a meeting outside but this isn't always appropriate so we utilise collaborative work spaces, coffee shops, small function rooms and clients meeting rooms (you'd be amazed how many of your customers and clients are willing to share their space!). 

Be bold, think outside the meeting room.

2. Lighting

Natural light is one of the best ways to increase engagement in the workplace and meetings

Natural light is one of the best ways to increase engagement in the workplace and meetings

Can't move to another location? No problem, make your space as engaging as possible.

One of the quickest and easiest changes to make is your lighting. Fluorescent lighting has been shown to cause eye strain and even induce migraines, and dim lighting can lead to drowsiness, sore eyes and headaches. 

Aim to have your meeting in a room with large windows allowing natural light in. If this isn't possible, invest in some daylight bulbs for your lighting system and where possible use uplighters (both floor and ceiling). Daylight is uplifting!

You can read another blog on workspace lighting by Open Workspace Design here: http://www.openworkspacedesign.co.uk/2015/10/14/the-impact-of-office-lighting-on-health-and-productivity/ 

3. Technology

Touchscreen tables can help encourage participation, and can improve engagement in meetings

Touchscreen tables can help encourage participation, and can improve engagement in meetings

Now you've got your lighting set up, its time to think about how technology can make those meetings more exciting and engaging.

Video conferencing

Most of us have travelled to a meeting. The question you need to ask is 'Do I need to be there physically?'

The traditional video conference is a thing of the past. They are no longer only affordable to big business and only in one or two meeting rooms. Systems such as Skype for Business make virtual meetings affordable for all businesses and mean you can 'attend' your meetings from ANY location, on ANY device! Why does this increase engagement? It enables staff to be more flexible, making them healthier and happier. It also reduces the amount of time and money spent travelling between locations. Reducing travelling can lead to much higher productivity and engagement. The added bonus to the business is smaller travel budgets and staff spending more time working and less time travelling. 

Download our eBook on Skype for Business here 

Touchscreens 

Whiteboards are great for scribbling ideas and sticking up post it notes in a brainstorming meeting but how do you collect all the information at the end? Do you lose data? Can you make notes on the wall and present at the same time?

Large touchscreens can be used with software such as OneNote to collate meeting notes and ideas, and you can present a PowerPoint or project information at the same time. The ability for multiple users on the screen at once opens up many possibilities. 

Interactive Table

These are also touchscreens but they can be mounted in a table. Waterproof, able to have ten fingers or pens working at once, and mountable in a standard or fully bespoke table these are quickly becoming a must have. 

Quality Audio

You've got good visuals, and the all important good lighting, but the effects of these are limited if you don't have quality audio. Having the right audio for the task is simple but is often overlooked. For the majority of commercial installs we recommend ceiling speakers (most of which can be painted to match your interior design). Speakers from Extron or Monitor Audio provide superb quality across all frequencies meaning you can use the same speakers for your video conference, presentation and watching videos. Use your space for entertaining as well? No problem the right speakers will do all these jobs.

4. Furniture

Do you really need to sit down? A stand up meeting can increase productivity and decrease meeting length.

Do you really need to sit down? A stand up meeting can increase productivity and decrease meeting length.

Uncomfortable seating can affect our posture leading to drowsiness and disengagement. It can also be distracting as we wriggle and fidget to stay awake and constantly try to get comfortable. Providing chairs which have adjustable seat height and depth, and adjustable arms and lumber will ensure most people will be comfortable. If your design doesn't suit a traditional office chair, try to provide a range of seating so people can choose what is comfortable for them. 

Recent studies have shown that sitting for long periods is detrimental to our health. Consider having your meeting standing up. Stand up meetings have been proven to improve interpersonal relationships and enagagement (here's a paper on stand up meetings and productivity http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1948550614538463).