Meeting Rooms of the Future: Faster Decision-Making, Reduced Waste

How do you counter dwindling attention spans, connectivity snafus, tech glitches during crucial pitches, and collaboration where most business decisions happen: remotely? In a not-so-distant future, meeting rooms will use your staff and clients’ digital habit to your advantage, enabling faster decision-making, richer collaborations, instant access and payoff.

It’s not just a matter of opinion, but a phenomenon evidenced by studies at home and abroad. In this post, we highlight findings of two research projects: the “Meeting Room of the Future” study by the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC), and “Future Meeting Space” research by the European Association of Event Centres, Fraunhoffer Institute of Industrial Engineering, and German Convention Bureau.

The bottom line: Meeting rooms will be built for experiences, instant access and gratification. Recurring themes include the following:

Experience Creation

Three out of four meeting planners surveyed by IACC reported their current role requires more experience creation now than just two years ago, reports MeetingsNet.

It makes sense. Authors behind “Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing” argue we’ve entered an era where organizations compete first and foremost based on experiences, which can sway audiences more than any other factors, including cost or quality.

Put simply, enhanced meeting experiences will get you to open wallets and business decisions faster.

To achieve that, organizations are investing in home-style, unconference-like settings, designed to put attendees at ease, foster creativity and richer interactions. That might include “fireside chat” seating, lounge areas, moveable tech, wired furniture, interactive white boards, and more — even refreshments.

Wired (of course)

As you’d expect, high-quality broadband Internet remains the number-one priority, writes MeetingsNet, with IACC survey respondents investing heavily in bandwidth, AV equipment, and collaborative technology above all else.

Instant access is particularly important as workers connect from the road, home or off-site facilities. After all, on-the-go decision-making demands on-the-go access. No more waiting hours or days for information before you can proceed with a project or next step in a sale or client relationship.

Co-Working & Hybrid Spaces

Co-working spaces and lounges enable attendees to be more autonomous, and yet remain focused on meeting goals, says the German Convention Bureau. Built for more informal, extended stays, these spaces “mean more opportunities to network and share knowledge informally.”

Researchers also predict hybrid spaces that combine physical and digital meeting rooms. “Both sets of participants have access to identical content, knowledge sharing and program flow in real time,” they explain. Tuned in via laptops, desktops, smartphones or tablets, remote participants can still engage in discussions, but at a significant time and cost savings.

Your Next Steps

What would your meeting rooms of the future look like? Start by understanding how you communicate today, and what obstacles hinder that communication.

Put another way: Thinking about the last few meetings you’ve attended, what factors served as tripping points, sabotaging a pitch or delaying next steps because participants lacked information, access, or someone’s input? How can you prevent those factors from hindering future meetings?

Then partner with a reputable provider to design, develop, install and support the solution that will get you there.

If nothing else, what is one thing you can improve in the next few weeks? And what will it cost you — in manpower, productivity, lost time or opportunity — to do nothing about it?