Chris Carmen  /   February 22, 2018

With so many elements involved in planning and relocating or expanding your office space, it is easy to overlook some of the most important functional items. One of the most underestimated variables is the amount, size, and type of meeting spaces that will be needed in today’s office. Meeting space must be considered and planned for, no matter what type of company, to prevent a myriad of problems later.  Under planning for meeting space can cause tension among employees and departments within the business, not to mention the negative impact on operations and the company’s overall efficiency.

The Wall Street Journal highlighted office tension in an article, noting that is common when a company has a shortage of meeting space. Company hierarchies, overbooking meeting space, meetings that run overtime, and squatters who treat a conference room like their personal space are all issues that are coming to a head as the number of time employees spend in meetings continues to increase by 8% to 10% each year since 2000. In fact, the average senior executive now spends 28 hours per week in meetings and the average mid-level manager spends an average of 21 hours in meetings.

Problems with too little meeting space can be prevented through adequate space planning prior a relocation or office expansion. A client of Carmen Commercial Real Estate Service, DWA Healthcare Communications, is currently expanding its office for the fifth time in 14 years; with construction complete later this year. Bill Brooks, DWA’s COO Emeritus and expansion project manager, ensures meeting space remains a priority in any office planning.

“Meeting demands are based on your business type,” said Brooks. “At the heart of executing DWA’s services is project management.  Therefore we have many project teams working simultaneously with a variety of deliverables.  As a result, there are lots of meetings both scheduled and ad hoc as well as for both large and small teams.”

In addition to traditional meeting rooms, DWA has chosen to incorporate more innovative ideas in its new office space, including the use of a sound masking system, informal manager’s workstations, and common area gathering spots.

“Sound attenuation or sound masking is the next step for us.  We’ve seen it at work in other companies and it’s perfect for our new space. The sound masking system, installed in the suite’s ceiling, broadcasts white noise throughout the suite.” said Brooks. “The system dampens conversation and general office noise, allowing us to avoid the necessity of building workstations with high walls solely for sound privacy.  This saves money in furniture and creates a more productive, less stressful environment.  Conversations and small meetings can be had at desks without disrupting employees in other areas of the office.”

The company also adopted, some time ago, “first come, first serve”  enclaves, which can function for small team meetings, supervisor/staff discussions. or client calls.  Other larger meeting rooms may be reserved through Outlook bookings.  DWA has also designated meeting rooms for client meetings.  These are furnished and equipped appropriately and scrupulously maintained but are also available for general company meetings.

In the course or working with CARMEN’s Tenant Representation and Office Tenant Advisory clients, we often hear about the issue of having too little meeting space. The problem has become increasingly common as a result of companies moving toward more open office space, which increases employee density.  With more employees working in workstations, the need for private space for personnel to have private phone conversations or meetings increases. In fact, it is one of the problems we help clients solve when assessing their needs for new office space. By creating more options for meeting space, a client’s needs can often be accommodated.  Of course, it depends on the specific nature of each business as to how much meeting space will be required, which we take into account during the initial assessment. If inadequate meeting space sounds like a familiar problem and you are ready to solve it, please contact us to learn how we can help.

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