Though just a character in a child’s story, Goldilocks had the right idea in making sure the size of the bears’ furniture was “just right” for her comfort. If she were designing your modern conference room, she would be focused on getting the size and fit just right. Smart girl!
Your conference room is an integral part of your business. This is where decisions are made, teams collaborate, ideas are created, alliances are formed, and mergers of all kinds come to life—just to mention a few of its essential functions.
Having the wrong-size conference room table can exclude certain key people from meetings, and intimidate others. The wrong-size table may crowd the room and obstruct adequate space to maneuver. If your table is too small, not only will it represent a terrible misuse of space, it will look out of place visually, as well.
Conference room size: you’ve got what you’ve got
Let’s face it: when it comes to conference room size, most of us have little say. The conference room size we inherit is often the size we have to work with, unless you are among the select few who build their own office buildings. Even then, certain space limitations may affect how your space is ultimately used. Making your conference table fit into the space you have to work with is a key area for your planning and consideration.
Making it fit
In addition to getting the right-sized conference table, getting the right fit is also near the top of the list of things to consider—and the two are often not the same. Some modern conference rooms are long and narrow; others are rectangular and short; and still others are square. Some even have a shape of their own. Well, you don’t need to be an engineer to know that some sizes and shapes just won’t fit into many modern meeting rooms. Table shape is important, as well as size. How can you find the best solution for you?
Conference table function
Let’s start with function. One key component of function is determining the maximum number of people able to occupy your table at any given time. If it is a rectangular conference table you are considering, you’ll want to allow 36" of width per person. From time to time, in a pinch, you can get away with 30" per person—for short meetings with friendly people. The idea is to allow each individual their personal space. Round tables are a little more forgiving in this area.
In addition to inside table functionality, there is outside table functionality to consider. This means you need enough chair space to move both into the table space and outside of it. In addition, you must allow space for traversing around the perimeter of your conference table without it becoming an obstacle course. That space is normally comfortable at 42" to 48", from the table edge outward.
Making your function fit the room
After you have worked through all of your functional numbers, you must make your table fit into the space you have remaining. If you have 60" of potential table depth remaining, and 124" of length, you have the space to work with.
If the function of your room requires serving refreshments to guests, you may want to consider a credenza, or storage of some kind. Think through the items you need to store, and factor in furniture, tools, and equipment that need to fit into the remaining space. For this reason, some of our clients choose to have us build their credenzas with wine coolers and refrigeration. Consider the tools you need in order to run prepared, well-equipped meetings, i.e., writing and eating utensils, video and communication equipment, etc. Most storage credenzas are 24"D and between 72"L and 84"L. These are the measurements you’ll need to factor into your remaining space. Including a credenza into your conference room design means you will need to subtract the depth of the credenza from the length or depth of your conference room table. If storage is a big factor for you, consider wall storage, as well.
Manufacturers of standard, off-the-shelf office conference room furniture presume you do business in an average sort of way—so they build furniture for average people. If you are above-average, you’re stuck! If the space you have remaining after you have planned your space is 38", and standard furniture only comes in 48" (for example), do you have to make your business conform to the conference room furniture? THAT’S NUTS! Your modern conference room furniture should be there to serve your business—not the other way around.
You can hope and pray you’ll get lucky and make a standard-sized conference room table or credenza fit the way you want to do business, or you can sacrifice function. What a choice! At 90 Degree Office Concepts, it’s our feeling that your business should be done the way you want to do it. The size of your furniture should fit your space and your function exactly. You should not have to walk sideways in order to take your seat at your conference table, and you should not have to settle for sufficient space for ten people at your conference table when you really need space for twelve. You should not have to give up serving refreshments to visitors “just because.”
Making your modern conference room table fit is strictly a balance between employing the function you need with the space you have…and being creative in the process.
Call us at 90 Degree Office Concepts for the help you need to make your meeting spaces visually and functionally above-average!