Ergonomic Solution of the Month: Conference Room Effectiveness

Glass door and window into conference room

Ergonomic Solutions for Conference Rooms

What if your conference room could be transformed into a space of not only meetings, but of effective communication: a space where people enter to meet and exit with results? Whether used for meetings, presentations, small events or video conferencing, the changes you make can set the tone for your intended use and can affect the outcome of your meetings. Making proper selection and use of ergonomic furniture can transform your conference room into a place of effective, creative, inventive decisions and actions.

Ergonomic Furniture with Goals

What can ergonomic furniture do for your conference room? It can create an environment that not only sets a tone for the space, but also keeps people awake, energized and alert.

Meetings can often last too long as it is; meetings in uncomfortable furniture can be endless. To provide an inviting environment for productive use of conference space, that empowers people and generates creative ideas and effective actions, consider these 7 factors:

1.    Conference Space Use

Before we get to the end results of keeping people comfortable (and awake), we first need to do our homework.

To create the conference room that delivers the results you need, the first step is to define how the room will be used and by how many people. Focus on its intended uses, not its current ones.

For example, some conference rooms are used for:

  • Ongoing intense use
  • Multiple quick meetings for different sized groups
  • All day educational sessions
  • Classroom setting
Ergonomic Solutions for team work

Ergonomic Solutions for team work


2.    Number of People in Meetings

With our goal in mind of creating a space where people enter to meet and exit with results, we need to understand how many people we need to accommodate.

Make sure to account for company growth and different types of setups for the room. For example, you may need 10 people in Board meetings but 20 in training sessions.

3.    Size of Conference Space

Last piece of homework:

If you are working with an existing room, measure it to determine its size. You will need this information to determine how many people you can accommodate in the space.

If your room has not been built out, determine how much space you will need. This link offers a quick calculator that will show you that a conference room setup for 10 people requires about 400 square feet, while a classroom setup for 20 people requires 480 sf.

Typically, a 20′ × 15′ conference room seats 10 to 12 around a table with space for additional seating; while a 30′ × 20′ room seats 20 to 22.

4.    Ergonomic Furniture: Table Selection

And now, the fun part! It is time to select the ergonomic furniture that will help serve our purpose.

When selecting your ergonomic furniture, consider using 2 or more tables that can easily reconfigure to a variety of settings. These tables come in various shapes and sizes and can help you comfortably accommodate the varied uses of the space.

Also, consider how many people will be available to set up the room before each meeting. Do you have a full custodial staff or will it be the responsibility of a single Office Manager? Some tables can nest into each other and have casters that allow one person to easily reconfigure.

Dragging tables around can create wear and tear on the furniture, the flooring, and the person responsible for setting it up.

A few tips for tables and ergonomic furniture selection:

  • Make sure there’s enough space for the knees (so people aren’t bumping into the center posts) and open leg space (so people do not have to straddle the table legs).
  • If you’re going to have people sit on both sides of the table, make sure there’s enough leg room or fit two tables side by side (i.e. 2-18” tables for plenty of leg space and easy re-configuration).
  • If your space needs to serve longer meetings, ensure there is enough room to be seated comfortably for long periods.

5.    Ergonomic Furniture: Chair Selection

Like in real estate, there is the “location, location, location” motto, in conference rooms, it is “chairs, chairs, chairs.”

One of the most important pieces of ergonomic furniture in any conference room is the chair. The seats you choose will impact productivity.

A few tips for chairs and ergonomic furniture selection:

  • Plan for space on each side of chair (approximately 4”- be sure to include the outside measurement of the arms) so that people are able to push back without hitting the wall behind or bumping into the person beside them.
  • A chair with arms can be comfortable when having conversational meetings. However, for work-intensive meetings the typical “conference style arms” are too deep and can force awkward postures for table use.
  • A chair that can swivel easily to focus attention on the presenter is the best choice. It should have seat height, swivel, rock and lock features. If you can get a height adjustable back, even better!
  • A 4-post chair with casters and glide combination is for economical while allowing easy movement. There are also chairs that easily nest into each other and don’t require lifting or stacking. They are easy to store when not in use.
  • Sled base chairs are heavy and awkward to move.
  • High back executive conference offers a sharp look. Seat depth adjustment or a shorter seat with height adjustable arms or ¾ chair arms offers people back support while working on mobile devices during those longer meetings.

6.    Equipment, Storage Needs

Chairs (chairs, chairs) are critical, but there are other important factors too. When planning your conference room, consider the types of presentations that will be made there. Is there a need for a lectern? What about a projector? Video conferencing equipment? What are your electronic and wiring needs?

Do you need storage room for refreshments, support items, tools, presentation needs?

7.    Environment

A final bit that will seal the deal in making your conference room a productive and effective space is planning its environment.

Make sure the room is well-ventilated and has temperature control to optimize the comfort (and attention!) of meeting attendees. Select your paint colors, artwork, and lighting to facilitate the goals of the room’s uses.

By considering these factors when setting up your conference room, you can shift the energy and effectiveness of the space and get the results you need from meetings, trainings, video conferences, and events.


About Karen Burke

Karen is founder and president of Kare Products, specializing in active ergonomic solutions, products and office ergonomic consultations, since 1982.