Rethinking the Value of Meeting Spaces for Organisations in these Challenging Times for Commercial Real Estate


Understanding future trends has always been at the forefront of public and private sectors priorities. The events of 2020 have taught us that changes may happen faster and be even more unpredictable than we previously thought.

Critical thinking and keen observation allow us to draw conclusions about the emerging trends in our professional spaces. This article is about one particular aspect of commercial real estate which has a significant impact on the quality of organisational operation; meeting rooms.

Let’s take a look into the future of meetings rooms in an evolving professional environment. We believe the value of meeting space is changing on three levels and in this article, we explore these changes and make suggestions about possible solutions.

Level 1. Downsizing to Go Upmarket

Commercial Real Estate is about the dollar value per square meter and the quality of the space.

Since people and organisations are re-engineering working arrangements and allowing people to partly work from home, there is a growing trend of businesses downsizing their office space to reduce unused floor space and therefore, wasted money.

In the process of downsizing, there is a question on everyone’s mind about how much meeting space will be required in this new environment. Many businesses are finding their meeting rooms empty as people continue to work remotely and utilise video-conferencing more often.

Many are also viewing it as an opportunity to upgrade to a smaller, more modern office space.

It’s tough to decide the best course of action when meeting rooms serve to fulfil many important purposes, including:

  • > Management meetings: planning, reporting, strategising and more
  • > Team meetings: project setting, reporting, updates, team building etc
  • > Training & Upskilling
  • > One-on-one meetings, performance reviews, interviews
  • > Meeting suppliers and customers
  • > Product/service launches, announcements
  • > Dealing with personal or team challenges

The key requirement these all have in common is the need for a quiet space where conversations can be held in private when necessary.

Level 2. Value of People Present in the Office is Changing

Up until the events of 2020 we hadn’t considered what the purpose of having all employees working in the office is. In a typical business environment, it has simply always been an expectation.

Of course, they are there to do their job, but as we all discovered, work still gets done remotely. It’s now time to re-think maximising the value of the times when your team is all together, a concept that has become a luxury in recent times.

Organisational phycologists might have their own opinions, yet from a common-sense perspective, conducting team activities should be high on the agenda when the whole team is together in person. It’s much easier to connect in a face-to-face scenario, and while colleagues still communicate and see each other daily, even digitally, there’s nothing quite like catching up in person.

A standard office meeting room doesn’t tend to cater to the whole team. Typically you're looking at one medium-sized table with a set number of chairs, as previously these rooms were used for smaller gatherings. What you need is specialised real estate, with the capability to host groups of all sizes.

Level 3. Reasons to Work in the Office are Changing

One of the biggest benefits of working remotely is the precious time saved when there is no commute to and from the office each day. As property prices increase, people are moving further away from central cities, meaning even more time spent commuting for work when offices re-opened. It has become clear to many there is an urgent need to re-think the reasons why people need to be present in the office.

While many are becoming accustomed to doing business over video conferencing, there is still massive value to be gained from close, in-person communication.

It has a lot of benefits including:

  • > A faster decision-making process
  • > Ease of explanation, especially when there is a new solution or new idea on the table
  • > Quality of communication, as we know video conferencing is not always perfect especially when more than 3 people are involved
  • > Opportunity for better presentation, especially when a tactile experience is important (for example when physical objects are involved)
  • > Better quality training for soft skills where emotions and body language is an essential part of the training

To many it feels like organisations are now being challenged to create new forms of team interactions to increase productivity and quality of results, somehow taking into account remote workers. At the same time, bringing teams together holds the promise of faster problem-solving.

Observing the commercial real estate situation as many offices downsize, we believe an issue business may soon face will be a shortage of appropriate spaces to exercise their much-needed team activities.