Though not necessary, a conference room is generally larger (often seating a dozen or more employees). Conference rooms are used to conduct video conferences or conference calls with clients, vendors, and other people outside the office too. Whereas a regular meeting room is mostly used for intra-office discussions. Conference rooms contain Audio Visual equipment like a projector, TV, or computer to help conduct presentations, training, and demonstrations. Meeting rooms can just have a few chairs and a whiteboard. In conference rooms, one person can lead the meeting and speak to the rest of the group, while everybody is an equal participant in meeting rooms.
Despite all these differences, both the terms “meeting” and “conference” are often used interchangeably in the professional world.
With evolving office spaces and transitioning work culture, conference room needs and structures are also making a shift. However, the basic need remains the same, brainstorm, collaborate and share ideas. Some common conference room types include One-on-One Spaces for a more private and direct conversation. Some of such rooms are built-in areas as small as 16 square feet. Then, there is the comparatively newer concept of Huddle Spaces. These are more informal spaces for collaborative brainstorming with comfortable seating of 4-6 people.
Small and Large Conference rooms are a usual feature of most companies. An average small meeting room is about 150 square feet and is designed to accommodate up to six people.
Large conference rooms are generally reserved for around 500 square feet and are designed to accommodate 13-20 people. These rooms are also used for clients, formal meetings, onboarding, or training sessions. Large meeting rooms should also have a TV or projector and video conferencing technology.
Various factors determine the number of conference rooms required in an organization.
While in some industries like marketing, a lot of creative and verbal exchange is required between teams, in others, simple emails are enough to get the job done.
Some statistics show that in normal offices (where all employees have dedicated desks), the ratio of conference rooms to the number of employees should be closer to 1:20. However, not all conference rooms need to be of the same size. In an organization of say 100 people, you could have 5 rooms (1 Large, 2 Medium, and 2 Small that vary in style).
Some of the basic conference room etiquettes are -
Do not eat - While coffee, tea, or water are acceptable in the conference room, eating something between meetings is disrespectful.
Do not use the phone - Put the phone on silent and attend personal calls only once the conference is over.
Keep it clean and orderly - Make sure you don’t leave paper napkins, coffee mugs, or paper products on the floor. Clean the space so that the next group finds the room as clean as you did.
Don’t get too comfortable - Do not lean back in the chair or lower the height. Instead, sit up straight towards the front edge of the seat and look alert.
Keep the door closed - when a meeting is in session. Also, knock and ask for permission before entering a conference room during an ongoing meeting.
Reset before leaving - Arrange the chairs back, switch off the air conditioner, lights, and power devices you’ve used during the conference.
Make a booking for the conference room in advance so that everyone knows when you need the room and keep it vacant at that time.
Be punctual - Arrive and leave the conference room at the booked time. Don’t let people wait after your time is over.
Cancel your booking in advance if you don’t need the conference room for the meeting
Meeting or conference room availability can be communicated in the following manners -
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), in its Section 216.2, requires that interior and exterior signs identifying permanent rooms and spaces must have raised characters and braille. Therefore, if you think, the conference room signage is not likely to change over time and will serve the same function for more than 7 days, use a Braille Conference Room Sign. Even if an ADA sign is not required, it's always a good idea to make your space accessible to everyone.