Setting up a conference room: a conference room has many uses, which is why it needs to be planned properly. Especially in the customer area, a conference room is also a company’s flagship. However, it is not only a question of style and good design, but the equipment of a conference room must also be well thought out and selected.

Planning the conference room in advance

And indeed, as with classic workplace equipment, users should not adapt to the conference room, but rather the conference room should adapt to their users. This means that it should be clear in advance what requirements will be imposed on this meeting area, so the room should be designed and equipped accordingly.

First of all, it is important to know what the area will be used for. There are different purposes here, and of course several can apply within a company. Such purposes can be, for example:

  • holding smaller or larger meetings
  • conferences with external persons or even from abroad
  • meeting places internally
  • planning areas for projects
  • customer consultations / planning
  • trainings and courses
  • additional use as a dining area

In addition, you should ask yourselves what kind of company you are. A conference area in a large B2E company has different requirements than one in a creative company. The needs are different and should be met accordingly.

Once these questions have been clarified, it should be chosen which room provides the capacity for the needs. A room for 50 people requires a lot of space accordingly. This means that each person must have enough working space. In addition, there must be enough space for walkways. Some space is also needed for the conference leader, which should be more generous.

It is therefore better to plan more space than too little. We will be happy to help you with the planning!

It is also important that the technical needs can be met within the conference room:

  • sufficient power sockets, if necessary integrated in the table
  • enough connections for the technology
  • if a beamer is used: windows that can be darkened
  • ventilation facilities should be available
  • sufficient lighting in the room

Planning training rooms

Training rooms are the most difficult to plan. This is where the capacity is quickly underestimated. The width of the workplace gets estimated wrongly, there is too little space for additional furniture, or the space required for tables and chairs is wrongly planned.

A classic workstation in a training room requires 80 to 100 cm per person in width and 180 cm in depth including the chair (80 cm table depth and 100 cm space for the chair and the movement area). The situation is different for double workplaces where people sit opposite each other. Here, the Workplace Ordinance permits a tabletop depth of 60 cm.

Planning and organising a conference room - what to pay attention to 2

Example of planning a training room with escape routes (left, right, in the middle)

If we now assume an arrangement like in a school, the seating area for 100 participants requires the following capacities: for the escape route, 5 tables are placed next to each other with a minimum distance of one metre (better 1.5 metres with this many participants) on the right and on the left side of the wall and another escape route of likewise 1 to 1.5 metres is left in the middle. Thus, a room width of at least 12.5 metres is necessary with a table width of 80 cm (without cupboards on the walls).

Room width : 10 x 0.80 m (table width) + 3 x 1.5 m (for the escape routes) = 12,5 m

Every three rows (in this case 2 x 3 rows and a combination of four) there is another escape route. This means that with 10 rows of tables with a depth per row of 1.8 metres (see above) including 3 metres for 2 escape routes between the workplaces and also 3 metres for the end walls, the depth of a training room without a speaker area should be approx. 24 metres. Add approx. 3 metres for the area where the trainer interacts.

Room depth: 10 x 1.80 m (for 10 rows) + 3 m (2 escape routes in the middle) + 3 m (2 escape routes at the edge) + 3 m (speaker’s area)= 27 m

In addition, at least an additional 1.5 m should be planned on one side of the wall for sideboards and cupboards for any beverages that may be offered.
Finally, it is recommended that the ideal training room for planned 100 participants is not less than 400 square metres.
The same calculation for more frequently 30 participants (á 3 rows, 10 workplaces each with a central aisle in the row) would then have a square footage of 142.5 (without cupboards).

Room width (see arrangement above) = 12.5 m x room depth (3 x 1.8 m) + 3 m edges + 3 m speakers = 142,5 m²

It is different if no workplaces are provided to this extent, but only chairs. In this case, the space available for each chair is 0.65 metres. These chairs are also arranged in a maximum of 4 rows one behind the other and a maximum of 5 next to each other. Thus, a room width of 11 metres should be planned for 10 seats without cabinets and in depth (with a passage row of 0.45 metres) of 17 metres with an additional area of 3 metres for the training manager. Such a type of training room should then be 220 square metres. It should be noted, however, that these training sessions do not take place over a period of a whole day, as a desk not only makes it easier for the employee, but also has a positive effect on the sitting posture

This may sound more complicated than it is. In the end, it can be said that for 30 participants in a training course with one workstation, 160 square metres must be included. This measurement can be used to adjust any planning for the premises. However, it also shows that the rooms must have a certain capacity, which should be taken into account in the planning.

Determine / calculate the size of the conference room

This is about the capacity that a conference area with a large conference table as its centre requires. What do you need to consider here?

Klassischer Konferenztisch nach Planung von R. Bellmann

A classic conference table designed by R. Bellmann

Finally, it should also be asked how many participants should fit around a conference table. Let’s assume that 30 participants require a space of 30 x 0.65 metres. The conference table is also measured according to this dimension. With 30 participants, assuming 14 sitting opposite each other and 2 at the ends, the conference table should be 14 metres long x 0.65 metres. This requires a table length of at least 9 metres.

If 3 participants sit at the ends, as wide as the room may be, the table should definitely be 8 metres long, but also have a depth of 2 metres. In addition, another 1.5 metres of escape route should be taken into account on each side and another 3 metres for the conference leader. This means the room should have a width of (8 metres + 1.5 metres + 3 metres) 12.5 metres and a depth of (2 metres + 1.5 metres + 1.5 metres) 5 metres.

This way you can calculate your own dimensions. And once these are given and the room has been chosen, you can start planning the furnishings. Because there are also numerous aspects to consider.

Furnishing – what needs to be considered?

The workplaces

So, you know that you need desks (or a conference table) and chairs. What do we recommend and what should you look out for?

Of course, it depends on how long the meetings will be. Longer meetings also require ergonomic solutions. Chairs that adapt to your body’s movements, tables that offer a comfortable seat height and a tidy work surface.

The longer the meetings, the more important it is to choose chairs with armrests so that the shoulders are relieved and do not cause back problems for the participants. In addition, a cantilever chair with a tilting option is a good choice so that participants do not have to sit rigidly in their seats. Comfortable high-quality chairs are also representative and therefore not only useful. It is best to choose the right conference chair for your case according to the recommended duration of sitting and the equipment.

Freischwinger mit Armlehnen R16

Cantilever chair with armrests R16

Equipment of the conference table

Conference tables should not be too high and not too low. The usual range is 72 to 74 centimetres. A tabletop made of glass or a glossy surface may look very noble, but from an ergonomic point of view it is very questionable. Light reflections can always disturb the eyes, so glass tops are not really recommended. Melamine-coated tabletops are common, real wood or veneer tabletops are particularly high-quality. With the frames, it is important to ensure that the table legs can be set back (or are centred) so that there is enough room for all participants to move around.

Then there are the specifications, which vary from meeting to meeting. Here, for example, there is the question of which technical necessities must be provided.

Elektrification in a conference room

How do your conferences take place? Do you work a lot with a beamer, laptops and such? Do the individual workstations need to be technically equipped, or does only the speaker need this option? After that, it should also be decided which table will be used and how the room will be set up. If each workstation needs electrification, it is advisable to arrange individual workstations in a circle or in a U-shape. This makes it easier to arrange cable outlets and cable trays for a tidy cable management.

Konferenztisch in U-Form, geplant von R.Bellmann

A conference table U-shaped, designed by R.Bellmann

For conferences in which less electrification is required, for example because only the conference leader’s laptop is used, one electric socket in the middle of the conference table is sufficient. Some manufacturers also offer more sockets and connections, so we recommend comparing them. It should also be ensured that any technical equipment used does not have any loose cables lying on walkways.

It is also important to use cable conduits under the table running to the sockets to ensure safety. The beamer, if one is used, should be attached to the ceiling, again this is safer and also will not take up space in the room. In addition, no participant will be disturbed by the warm exhaust air from the projector.

Considering external influences in a conference room

Often too little attention is paid to the correct lighting in a conference room. Especially meetings sometimes demand the highest level of attention. Incorrect illumination can quickly lead to tiredness and poor concentration. However, it is not only ideal lighting, either daylight or daylight luminaires, that is relevant; the option of darkening the room is also important. If beamers are used, this must be provided especially in the reference area so that the beamer image is clearly visible.

Further influences concern the acoustics. Most of the time, a conference is quiet, or a discussion is going on, so acoustic insulation is not necessarily needed. But there are external influences, such as open windows or an open conference area directly adjoining a kitchen, for example. In this case, it is important that the kitchen can be closed off so that noises from it do not disturb the consultations.

Windows should be kept closed during the conference, especially if conference rooms are located near major roads, railway stations etc. Airing the room beforehand or during breaks is more effective anyway, and no one gets a draught when sitting in the air stream. And to prevent signs of fatigue, effective ventilation is very important. Air-conditioning can also help, but it must be set correctly so that no participant ends up freezing.

Plants also help to improve the air quality. There have been many studies on this, including which plants are effective. Here in the conference room, plants also give a nicer feeling, not only in the style of the room, but also for the participants.

Other recommendable office furniture for conference rooms

As already mentioned, catering cabinets are very useful. Offering something to drink for conferences like water and coffee is important. Especially when dealing with customers, this is very important. It makes sense to have a sideboard or sliding-door cabinet in the room.

A standing desk at which the conference leader can place his or her documents is also a good idea. A whiteboard for better sketching is also very effective, along with an office trolley on which either a Polylux, a laptop or a printer can be placed. For many external participants, a coat rack is also very good so that clothes are close by but do not interfere with the place.

For meetings that take place within a certain time frame, it is also useful to place a wall clock. For conferences that extend into other time zones, a corresponding world clock is helpful.

Planning and organising a conference room - what to pay attention to 3

World clock, on time

Conclusion: planning and furnishing a conference room

A well-furnished conference room depends very much on planning in advance – especially on the local conditions. It is important, as we mentioned earlier, that the conference room adapts to the users rather than them having to adapt to the room.

In addition, it is important to consider which functions your conference area must have; this should always be taken into account during the initial planning. The aforementioned hints and recommendations are intended to make things easier for you and also to point out that certain aspects should be taken into consideration, also for the purposes of safety and well-being, regarding escape routes, tripping hazards, fatigue and overall concentration.

A good conference room, regardless of its representative status, is not only useful if the design is appropriate but also if the function comes first. After that, we can take care of internal style. But a few highlights can be included in the planning in advance with accessories and splashes of colour, such as offset doors on cabinets or coloured seats on conference chairs, plant pots in the corporate design, etc. pp.

The post "Planning and organising a conference room – what to pay attention to" written by:

Stephan Forstmann

Experte für Home Office und gesunde Büroarbeit

Stephan is from Dresden, Germany. He is a founding member of Deskonia since 2009.

Stephan is a home office worker since 2013 and became a home office expert. He shares his experience and publishes various tutorials for a better life at the office und creates tutorials on topics like ergonomics and communication.

In private, he is also very passionate about photography. He loves to chat about photography-gear and composition an. Stephan also published a lot of photography tutorials.

If you want to get in touch with Stephan, you can easily reach him via e-mail: forstmann@bueromoebel-experte.de.

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