Senior executives in many companies would like to make meetings more efficient and enhance the intellectual performance of their staff. However, whether this succeeds or not depends on more than just a clear meeting structure and good moderation. The way the conference room is furnished also plays a crucial role. Current data on the health problems associated with office work indicate the need for conference and meeting workplaces to permit one thing above all others: back-friendly behaviour and plenty of incentives to keep moving around.
This is best achieved with furniture that reduces the time spent sitting down and encourages people to stand more or to keep changing between standing and sitting. Height-adjustable conference desks are just one good example here. A desk that can be adjusted quickly and easily without making much noise will meet the needs of all employees. It should be possible to adjust the lifting capacity of the desk to the specific loads that apply in the individual company. Plenty of space to keep moving and changing working posture together with lots of legroom are other prerequisites for healthy meeting locations.
Although not absolutely vital, it is also advisable to include collision prevention to rule out any crushing and shearing risks. Simple, well-structured cable routing also makes sense. After all, cables lying around on the floor are a nuisance as well as posing a considerable accident risk. As an optional feature, a foot rest can help to reduce standing pressures. Companies where laptops and tablets are used during conferences should look for desks with incorporated user-friendly interfaces.
Extra tip: When meetings are frequently held with different numbers of participants, thought should be given to mobile conference desks. The furniture can be varied and combined at will, depending on whether the conference is being organised in small groups or large groups or whether room changes will be necessary. Mobile partitions for example are appropriate for breaking up large conference rooms and making it more pleasant - and thus also more efficient - to work in smaller groups. When purchasing such items, the partitions should always have lockable castors for easier handling.
Studies show that stand-up meetings are particularly efficient. If high desks are not adjustable in height (in which case they should be equipped with a comfortable foot rest), the conference room needs to have high desk chairs for standing or sitting at the high desk, depending on individual needs. The participants will all be on eye level. However, only high desk chairs with easily operated adjustment possibilities are suitable. Fully variable adjustment of the sitting height is particularly important, together with a height-adjustable foot ring so that the feet can be supported or rested comfortably. All conference participants can behave according to their own individual needs and adjust their posture as necessary.
Ideally, the seat and backrest of the high desk chair should be designed to prevent perspiration. Furthermore, an ergonomically shaped backrest should also be ideally adapted to the spinal column and not leave any pressure marks. It also helps for the seat to have a cushioning effect to prevent jolting of the spine on sitting down. A tilting seat will tip the pelvis forward slightly when shifting weight towards the desk, resulting in a natural position for the spinal column.
The high desk chair can be complemented by stand-up aids and activating standing seats. They can be used in many various ways and encourage people to alternate between standing and dynamic sitting.
Despite all the proven advantages of stand-up meetings, people still tend to sit down at most conferences. Individually adjustable chairs are still however unfortunately the exception. This is not so bad as long as participants can sit on well-designed multipurpose chairs. However, these need to have special properties and should only be used for a limited time, because they will be being used by people of all different shapes and sizes.
Multipurpose chairs should offer the widest possible range of ergonomic properties as this is the only way to offer anatomically correct support for the many different users. They should also encourage active sitting. This requires a dynamic design for the back rest and seat. An anatomically shaped backrest and permeable padding ensure that these will be back-friendly chairs.
Progressive digitisation is also changing the structure of meetings. Interactive centres allow participants to share content through integrated video and telephone connections so that team members who are not on site can also take part in the meeting. The interactive centre integrates the hardware and allows for great flexibility as a mobile unit. It should be adjustable in height with a user-focused ergonomic design.
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