Traditional meeting rooms outdated, dull, and uninspiring: Office workers crave flexibility says new research

31% believe their office’s meeting rooms are dull and uninspiring

Traditional meeting rooms have had their day, according to the new Meeting Expectations report by K2 Space. The survey of 1,000 UK-based office workers undertaken by YouGov revealed that around a third (31%) think the meeting rooms in their office are dull and uninspiring, and 35% agree traditional meeting rooms, such as boardrooms, are outdated.

When respondents were asked what could be done to improve the quality of meetings conducted in their office, most agreed that having a variety of spaces that allow for different types of meetings is key:

  • 31% agreed the introduction of quiet rooms or spaces where they could take calls or concentrate without distraction would improve the quality of meetings
  • 20% said the introduction of informal meeting spaces, instead of dedicated formal meeting rooms would improve the quality of meetings
  • 18% said having a variety of different sized meeting rooms would improve the quality of meetings
  • 17% think utilising outdoor spaces would lead to more productive meetings
  • 11% would like tall desks to allow for standing meetings

Technology is also an important factor when it comes to meeting productivity, with a quarter (25%) agreeing that better integration of technology into existing meeting rooms would improve meeting quality. A similar number (21%) said they had been let down by technology whilst attending a virtual meeting in the past.

Co-founder of office design and fit-out specialist K2 Space, Mark Phillips, said:
“We have known for some time now that unnecessary meetings are a major drain on workplace productivity, at a huge cost to UK businesses. While much research has been done into number of meetings attended by employees and time spent in meetings, we were keen to explore how office workers feel about their physical meeting spaces specifically.

“Our research highlights the fact that while office design on the whole can be incredibly subjective, it is becoming increasingly important that business owners provide employees with a variety of meeting spaces that promote productivity and flexibility, as failing to do so can leave employees feeling unproductive and uninspired.”

Busy doing nothing
As a consequence of not having adequate or inspiring meeting spaces, a number of office workers admit to ‘switching off’ or turning their attentions to other things during meetings or conference calls:

  • 24% of office workers have messaged friends or family during a meeting or conference call
  • 29% of office workers have undertaken other work not relevant to the meeting
  • 18% of office workers have checked or posted on social media
  • 19% of office workers have browsed the internet for non-work purposes, including shopping online
  • 10% of office workers have fallen asleep or ‘dozed off’

Meeting Millennial expectations
A recurring theme throughout the research is that Millennials are generally the least content with the meeting spaces in their offices, and are therefore less engaged when compared with their older counterparts. For example, 35% of Millennials have texted friends or family during a meeting, compared
with just 10% of Boomers. 28% of Millennials have used their personal social media accounts during a meeting, compared with just 5% of Boomers. And, 30% of Millennials have browsed the internet for personal reasons (including shopping), compared with only 5% of Boomers.

Additionally, almost half (46%) of Millennials agree that traditional meeting rooms are outdated, compared with just 26% of Boomers, and a higher percentage (36%) think their current meeting rooms are dull and uninspiring. This highlights the challenge employers face in getting office design right for their multi-generational workforces.

Phillips continued: “What is evident from our research is that by and large, Millennials lack the spaces and resources to carry out their jobs effectively. By failing to meet the demands of this modern, digital-native workforce, employers risk underutilizing top talent.”

Other report findings:

  • Almost half (47%) of respondents agreed that the room where they were interviewed for a job would influence their opinion of whether or not to work for an organisation – this was particularly high amongst Millennials, at 53%
  • 14% said redesigning existing meeting rooms to make them more attractive, fun and inspiring would improve the quality of meetings
  • 27% actively avoid making telephone calls outside of a private space if they know people around can hear their conversation (higher with Millennials at 32%)
  • 16% believe the integration of a better system for booking meeting rooms would improve the quality of meetings in their office.

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