From Science Fiction to Reality

How Future Meeting Rooms Will Revolutionize the Way We Collaborate

Imagine being in a virtual world where the boundaries between fantasy and reality blur, and you can communicate and collaborate with people from all over the world as if they were in the same room. This is the scenario depicted in the 2018 film "Ready Player One," where the protagonist Wade Watts enters the digital world of OASIS to participate in an epic adventure and a battle for control of this fantasy world. In one of the film's most memorable scenes, the characters gather in a virtual meeting room to discuss strategies and share information about their pursuit of the coveted "Easter Egg," which can give them power over OASIS. The scene shows how VR technology, although not yet as advanced as in the film, can revolutionize how we work and communicate remotely.

This fascinating vision of future meeting rooms is no longer just science fiction. In today's rapidly changing and globalized work environment, meeting rooms are evolving with advances in technology, and we can already see how virtual and augmented meeting rooms will change how we collaborate and communicate. In this article, we will explore how future meeting rooms are taking shape and what technologies will form the basis of these groundbreaking workspaces, starting in the virtual world:

Virtual and augmented meeting rooms

These future meeting rooms that we have just been introduced to utilize the latest technology in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to create more engaging and realistic meeting experiences. Here are some examples of related technology that can already be seen today:

Microsoft HoloLens

Microsoft HoloLens is an AR headset that allows users to interact with holograms in their physical environment. By using HoloLens, employees from different locations can participate in meetings, visualize and manipulate 3D models or prototypes, and collaborate on documents in real-time.

Oculus Rift and HTC Vive

These VR headsets offer high-resolution and realistic virtual environments that can be used to create virtual meeting rooms. With the help of these headsets, participants can feel as if they are physically present in the same room, even if they are located in different places around the world. This facilitates communication and collaboration and can lead to more effective meetings.

Facebooks's Horizon Workrooms

Facebook's Horizon Workrooms is a platform for virtual meetings where users can participate in VR meetings with their Oculus headsets. The platform allows users to create customized virtual workspaces and collaborate in real-time, using both VR technology and traditional video chats for those who do not have access to VR equipment.

Flexible spaces and modular furnitur

To meet the needs of an increasingly dynamic and flexible workforce, the meeting rooms of the future are designed to be adaptable and versatile. Flexible spaces and modular furniture play a crucial role in this change and offer a range of benefits for both employees and companies. Here are some really strong arguments for it:

Quick adaptation to different tasks

Flexible spaces and modular furniture make it easy to reorganize and adapt meeting rooms to different needs. This can mean quickly changing the layout of the room to support different types of meetings, such as brainstorming sessions, lectures, workshops, or more traditional conferences. This quick adaptability promotes a more responsive and efficient work environment.

Support for different work styles

By using flexible spaces and modular furniture, it is possible to create a work environment that supports a variety of work styles and tasks. This can include areas for individual work and concentration, spaces for informal meetings and conversations, as well as more relaxed environments for creative discussions and collaboration. In this way, employees can find the work environment that suits them best, thereby improving their productivity and well-being.

Efficient use of space

Flexible spaces and modular furniture can help companies make more efficient use of their office spaces. By creating multi-functional rooms that can be adapted to different needs, the need for separate and specialized spaces can be minimized, saving costs and resources. In addition, movable walls and modular furniture can be used to quickly create new workspaces and meeting rooms as the company grows or the need for more space arises.

Sustainability and reuse

Modular furniture is often designed to be durable and reusable, which means they can be moved and used in new configurations. This reduces the amount of waste generated when office environments are reorganized and contributes to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly workplace.

Some examples of modular furniture that already exist today include our own Pendax FlexWall Mobile range, which you can learn more about here at 

Smart technologies and automation

Smart technologies and automation are playing an increasingly important role in shaping the meeting rooms of the future. These innovations help improve efficiency, increase convenience, and create a more adaptable work environment. Let's take a look at some examples that illustrate how smart technologies and automation can be integrated into the meeting rooms of the future:

Room booking systems

By using digital room booking systems, employees can easily and efficiently book meeting rooms, view scheduled meetings, and find available times. These systems can also be integrated with the company's calendar program to automatically update meeting information and send reminders to participants.

Automatic adjustment of lighting and temperature

By using smart sensors and automation systems, meeting rooms can adjust lighting and temperature based on the number of people in the room and their activities. This helps create a comfortable working environment and reduces energy consumption, which is good for both the environment and the company's finances.

Voice assistants and AI-based tools

Voice assistants, such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, can be integrated into meeting rooms to help employees control lighting, audio, and other technical systems. AI-based tools can also be used to automatically transcribe meetings, translate between different languages, and create summaries of discussions, making communication and documentation easier. Whisper AI is a solution from Open AI that can already perform parts of this.

Automated conference technology

In the future, meeting rooms may be equipped with automated conference systems that automatically start and connect to video conferences, adjust camera angles, and zoom in on speakers to enhance the experience for remote participants. This makes it easier for teams to collaborate and communicate over long distances and reduces technical issues during meetings.

Presence detection and adaptation

Smart sensors can be used to detect when people enter and leave meeting rooms. This can be used to automatically update the room booking system and adjust resources such as lighting and climate control in real-time. Integrating smart technologies and automation into meeting rooms creates a more efficient, comfortable, and environmentally friendly work environment. These innovations will become increasingly important as the workplace becomes more digital and global, and they will help shape the meeting rooms and workplaces of the future. 

Green and sustainable meeting rooms

As environmental awareness increases and companies strive to reduce their carbon footprint, green and sustainable meeting rooms are becoming increasingly important. These eco-friendly workspaces focus on minimizing resource consumption, reducing waste, and creating a healthy and productive work environment. Here are some specific examples of how green and sustainable meeting rooms can be designed:

Energy-efficient technologies

By using energy-efficient technologies, such as LED lighting, smart thermostats, and solar panels, meeting rooms can reduce their energy consumption and therefore reduce the company's climate impact. These technologies can also help lower energy costs and improve the work environment.

Sustainable building materials

Green meeting rooms can be constructed with sustainable building materials such as recycled plastic, recycled wood, and environmentally friendly insulation materials. By using these materials, both resource consumption and waste generated during renovation or construction are reduced.

Natural elements and biophilic design

Integrating natural elements such as plants, water, and natural light into meeting rooms can create a more pleasant and healthy work environment. Biophilic design, which involves mimicking natural shapes and patterns in architecture, can also contribute to improving the well-being and productivity of employees.

Recycling and waste management

Green meeting rooms of the future will undoubtedly be designed with even greater focus on recycling and waste management. This could involve providing clearly marked recycling stations for paper, plastic, and other materials in more places, as well as using products made from recycled or recyclable materials.

Sustainable furniture

By choosing environmentally friendly and sustainable furniture, such as modular furniture made of recycled materials, the carbon footprint in meeting rooms is reduced, creating a more sustainable work environment. Durable and easy-to-repair furniture minimizes waste. By focusing on reduced resource consumption, waste reduction, and a healthy work environment, companies and organizations can both reduce their carbon footprint and improve productivity and employee well-being. These solutions also strengthen the brand and attract talents who value sustainability.

Future meeting rooms will be designed with both people's and the planet's well-being in mind. By implementing green and sustainable solutions in meeting rooms and work environments, companies and organizations contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future where economic growth and environmental considerations go hand in hand. Increased demand for certifications and eco-labels as evidence of sustainability criteria means that companies and organizations must actively work to meet these requirements and demonstrate their sustainability commitment.

Collaboration between architects, designers, technology providers, and companies is crucial for creating green and sustainable meeting rooms. Together, these stakeholders can develop innovative solutions and strategies to minimize resource consumption, reduce waste, and create a work environment that benefits both people and the planet.

Design for well-being and productivity

Future meeting rooms will also focus on creating a work environment that promotes well-being and productivity among employees. By designing meeting rooms that support both physical and mental health, companies and organizations can create a workplace where employees thrive and perform at their best. The following examples illustrate how meeting rooms can be designed to promote well-being and productivity:

Ergonomic furniture

By using ergonomic furniture such as adjustable chairs and desks, employee comfort can be improved while reducing the risk of work-related injuries and illnesses. Ergonomic furniture can also contribute to improving employee concentration and productivity.

Acoustics and soundproofing

Good acoustics and sound insulation are crucial for creating a work environment where employees can concentrate and collaborate effectively. By using professionally designed acoustic panels, sound-absorbing materials, and sound-insulated doors and windows, disruptive noise can be minimized and a calm and quiet work environment can be created. Please see FlexWall Mobile Acoustic as an example of an acoustic product in this category that is already available today.

Lighting and natural daylight

Good lighting is important for promoting well-being and productivity among employees. By using natural daylight and energy-efficient lighting, a work environment can be created that is both comfortable and stimulating. It is also important to offer adjustable light levels and color temperatures to support different tasks and personal preferences.

Color and interior design

Color and interior design can have a significant impact on how people perceive and interact with their work environment. By choosing calming and energizing colors, as well as furniture that promotes creativity and collaboration, one can create a work environment that supports well-being and productivity. These are of course skills that interior designers already possess today, but in the future they will have a wider impact and benefit more people.

Zoning and privacy

By creating zones for different tasks and levels of collaboration, one can support the well-being and productivity of employees. This may involve providing separate areas for individual work and concentration, as well as open spaces for collaboration and creative discussions. By giving employees the opportunity to choose the work environment that suits them best, one can promote their engagement and performance.

Creating a work environment that supports physical and mental health improves employee well-being and productivity, which benefits a company's success and profitability. In this area as well, architects, designers, technology providers, and business leaders will need to collaborate to understand factors that affect well-being and productivity and design meeting rooms that address these needs. This may involve investment in research, development, and keeping up with trends and innovations in workplace design and technology.

By focusing on these aspects, companies and organizations create a workplace where employees thrive, perform, and contribute to the overall success and sustainability of the company.

Adaptation for a hybrid work model

Another important factor to consider when it comes to future meeting rooms is further adaptation to a hybrid work model. This work model involves a combination of on-site and remote work, giving employees greater flexibility and adaptability. To support this work model, meeting rooms need to be designed to enable smooth transitions between different work environments and ensure that all employees can communicate and collaborate effectively, regardless of their location. Some examples of this include:

Universal technology and platforms

To support a hybrid work model, it is important to use technology and platforms that are compatible and accessible for all employees, whether they work on-site or remotely. This may involve investing in unified communication tools, cloud-based solutions, and standardized software.

Flexible and adaptable spaces

To enable employees to easily switch between individual work, collaboration, and video conferencing, both on site and remotely, it is important that future meeting rooms are flexible and adaptable, so that they can be used for different purposes and tasks. This may, as previously noted, involve offering modular furniture, movable screens, and zone divisions that can be customized as needed. 

Accessibility and inclusion

A hybrid work model requires that meeting rooms are designed to be accessible and inclusive for all employees, regardless of where they are located. This may involve offering solutions to improve accessibility for people with disabilities, as well as ensuring that remote workers can participate in meetings and collaborate on equal terms with their on-site colleagues.

Security and privacy

In a hybrid work model, it is important to ensure that meeting rooms are secure and protect the privacy of employees. This may involve implementing security measures such as encryption, password protection, and firewalls, as well as educating employees on best practices for protecting sensitive information and avoiding security risks. There are also significant opportunities with future technologies such as quantum entanglement that may affect remote work and meetings in several ways. One example is quantum cryptography, which uses quantum entanglement for communication with high integrity over long distances.

By entangling two particles in two different locations, we will likely be able to create a quantum mechanical channel in the not-too-distant future that is impossible to eavesdrop on without disturbing the state of the particles. This can be used to secure remote work and remote meetings where secure communication is crucial.

Connected and networked infrastructure

To support a hybrid work model, meeting rooms need to be connected and online so that employees can communicate and collaborate effectively, regardless of their location. This will likely come naturally with further investment in high-speed internet, wireless networks, and smart technologies that enable employees to connect their devices and share information seamlessly and securely.

Evaluation and improvement

To ensure that meeting rooms are adapted for a hybrid work model, it is important to continuously evaluate and improve the work environment and technologies used. This may involve gathering feedback from employees, monitoring the use of meeting rooms and technology, and making adjustments and upgrades based on the insights and experiences collected.
By designing meeting rooms that support this working model, companies and organizations can create a flexible and adaptable work environment that enables effective communication and collaboration between employees, regardless of where they are located. This will not only help improve employee well-being and productivity, but also support the overall success and sustainability of the company.

So, Ready, Player One?

Mobility in Meeting Rooms and Conference Rooms.