Hybrid Workplace: 7 Tips for Creating Optimal Meeting Spaces

The hybrid workplace is here to stay, and organizations are looking for smart ways to support it over the long term. According to research from PwC, 57 percent of U.S. executives plan to invest in a conference room setup with enhanced virtual connectivity. When coworkers collaborate well in a hybrid working environment, they enjoy better working relationships and experience greater job satisfaction. Everyone can quickly get on the same page about what needs to be done, and the business is more productive as a result.

Businesses are recognizing the value of a hybrid working environment. However, successfully picking and installing a new conferencing solution for a meeting space requires advance planning. For starters, companies need the right technology for the teams involved. This is especially true in a hybrid context, in which colleagues are collaborating from multiple locations and settings. What's more, conferencing solutions must be tailored to the rooms to deliver the desired outcomes.

With careful advance planning, businesses can create optimal meeting spaces for their hybrid workplace environments. Here are seven tips to help IT and facilities managers do just that.

Four colleagues sit at a rectangular conference table, and speak to four colleagues over video.

The hybrid workplace has arrived, enabling businesses to create optimal meeting spaces for the modern working environment.

1. Identify Your Employees' Collaboration Needs

Different teams will likely have different collaboration requirements. For example, a smaller team that meets frequently might benefit from an all-in-one solution that's designed for a huddle space, whereas a larger team might require a fully integrated, high-performance system that was specifically created for a more spacious conference room. 

Once you understand how your various teams work and what they need to collaborate well, you can design a conference room setup to match.

2. Take a Fresh Look at Your Space

According to research from Microsoft, 66 percent of business decision-makers are considering redesigning physical spaces to better accommodate their hybrid workplace requirements. 

Because many employees are coming into the office specifically to collaborate with team members in small group settings, it's worth taking a fresh look at what a meeting space even looks like. Although formal conference rooms still have an important role to play at many companies, huddle spaces and flexible communal spaces are especially valuable for a hybrid workplace environment.

3. Consider Remote Workers' Needs

According to Microsoft, one in 10 employees doesn't have an adequate internet connection to do their job. With that in mind, make sure you're fully accounting for your remote workers' needs, too. 

Also consider how the hybrid work environment has changed how they interact with their coworkers. As the Microsoft report notes, workers felt a sense of inclusion when everyone was logging into the same virtual room. Remote workers may feel overlooked if the hybrid workspace makes it difficult for them to connect and share with their in-office colleagues.

4. Evaluate Other Offices' Requirements

If you will be conferencing with a regional or satellite office, check with them to make sure you understand how they collaborate and what they need to do it well. Like your main office, they too may have special spaces that can be re-envisioned for a hybrid work setting. Very likely, they have teams with unique collaboration requirements, as well.

5. Include Soundproofing

Even with a state-of-the-art conferencing room setup, not only can background noise be a distraction, but information shared may go beyond its intended reach. Both soundproofing and sound masking within a space makes it easier for everyone to hear and be heard, but also supports audio inteligibillity and provides a level of confidentiality — all adding to a more effective meeting, regardless of whether they're present in person or joining from a remote location. 

To round out the effectiveness of the space, lighting is a key factor that should be considered as well — both in conference spaces and remote work settings. While harsh lighting or overly dark conditions can make it hard for colleagues to see one another and interpret body language, proper lighting sets the stage for a smooth conversation.

6. Enable Integrated Conferencing

Choose a conferencing system that seamlessly integrates with unified communications platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet. This way, teams will have the best likelihood of collaborating effectively with one another, serving clients and keeping in touch with external partners. The learning curve will be gentler, too, allowing everyone to focus on the conversation instead of worrying about how to use the technology.

7. Consider a Conference Room Booking Solution

According to PwC, 50 percent of U.S. executives are planning to invest in hoteling applications, or room scheduling solutions, that let employees check conference room availability and book the resources they need in advance. 

A conference room booking solution can prevent double-bookings so no one gets caught without a place to have an important conversation.

Creating Meeting Spaces for the Hybrid Workplace

The hybrid workplace is here, and companies are re-envisioning the way work gets done at their organizations. As they do, they should carefully evaluate how well their conference spaces support collaboration among geographically distributed teams. 

With thoughtful advance planning, IT and facilities leaders can make sure they have optimal meeting spaces for their hybrid work environments.