Conference tables are a quintessential fixture in all offices. Every business needs a place where the staff can get together for meetings, brainstorm and explore ideas, make crucial decisions and also work collectively on assigned tasks as a team. While many great ideas over the last few decades have germinated in dorms, basements, and garages, they inevitably progress to a boardroom where the future of an enterprise is scripted across conference tables.
Companies need an ideal conference table. It cannot be too large or small. It cannot be too quaint or ordinary. It cannot be fragile in any way or too rigid to make way for maneuvers. The conference room or boardroom does not require many changes over time but there should be enough provisions to accommodate a varying number of people. Hence, it is imperative to make an informed decision the very first time. No business will want to change its conference table anytime in the near future unless a major renovation is underway. It is not one extra chair or a small desk that can be easily replaced.
The Right Approach to Choosing Conference Tables
There is only one right approach to choosing conference tables. It is a holistic one. You must factor in all your requirements. You should consider the branding you have conceived. The building your office is in, the interior décor of your floor, the specific aesthetics you want in your conference room and the purposes you shall use the facility for should have equal importance. Function is definitely more significant but aesthetics matter, especially when the staff should feel comfortable and somewhat proud of the facility and all the features inside.
Shapes of Conference Tables
Conference tables come in various shapes and sizes. It is easy to choose a particular shape when you have few choices since some conference rooms have very little flexibility. They will only look good or be able to accommodate a usual rectangular conference table. Some rooms may have odd shapes and that may actually be a blessing in disguise. You can experiment with your options. Many people prefer the classic round conference table. It is necessary to consider the pros and cons of the many shapes you will come across.
- Round tables are great for smaller rooms. They are compact and aesthetic. They can easily fit into small meeting spaces and conference rooms that do not have much space to spare for movement. Round tables are also appropriate for common areas where more casual meetings happen. Private offices can also have a round conference table, perhaps just sufficient for four people to have a serious meeting.
- Square tables come in various sizes. The moderately sized ones are good enough for small conference rooms. If you compare a round table for four with a square table for the same number of people, then you may find the extra work surface in the latter a bit more useful. Round tables have this inevitable flaw. The work surface is a bit less than square or rectangular designs. One of the advantages of square conference tables is a few can be aligned to make a larger table. You will have a grand rectangular setup and you can accommodate more people rather conveniently.
- Rectangular tables are very common and they are a natural choice for medium to large enterprises. If your office has a substantially large conference room, especially a formal one where many executive meetings will be hosted routinely, then you should definitely settle for a rectangular table. Rectangular tables come in many more dimensions than the square or round tables. You cannot have an excessively large round table. The same is true for square tables. Rectangular tables have no such limitation. You can accommodate as many as two dozen people at a rectangular conference table. There are designs that can seat fifty people or more.
- A fine balance between round, square and rectangular tables is the racetrack design. It is kind of an elliptical oval-shaped table. A racetrack table can seat more than a round one. It is a bit more stylish than a square table. Racetrack table can be large enough to seat many people but in a slightly smaller space than what a rectangular form will demand. Since the two ends of the table take less space, a smaller conference room that may look clogged with a rectangular table may be more functional with a racetrack design. Racetrack conference table provides optimum seating capacity without restricting movement in medium-sized conference rooms.
- Another popular variant is the boat-shaped table. It is neither a racetrack nor a rectangle but combines the best elements of both. Boat shaped designs can be as long as rectangular and racetrack tables. They provide more work surface than racetrack designs but pose less of a challenge to movement around the table than rectangular designs. One of the most noteworthy benefits of a boat shaped table, somewhat also assured by a racetrack design, is the ability of everyone seated to watch a presentation or see one another without having to strain their neck and back. Rectangular and square tables have every participant aligned in straight lines. A boat-shaped conference table has a wider middle and tapering on both ends so functionally it is much more convenient, especially for meetings wherein presentations or slideshows are an important element.
Important Questions you must Answer before Shopping
The two most important questions are what is the ideal size of the conference table for your office and how many people you must be able to seat for a given meeting. The two questions and answers are correlated. There is an easy way to understand how the size of a table determines the number of people you can seat. A table that is six feet long will seat six people. A table that is twenty feet long will seat twenty people. This is a rule of thumb. There are obviously a few exceptions, especially if you are going for a round table or a custom made racetrack, boat-shaped or rectangular design. Consult with an expert and choose the right size depending on the seating capacity you need.
It is relatively easy to find out the capping in terms of length and breadth. Make a note of the dimensions of the conference room. You have to leave three feet of space, if not more, around the perimeter of the conference table. Any less space and moving around the table will become difficult. So if you have a room that is twelve feet long and ten feet wide, then the table cannot be longer than six feet and wider than four feet.
Conference rooms can have cabinets, bookcases, shelves, and other furniture. If you have such fixtures, then the space consumed by those installations must also be factored in while deciding the size of the table. Do not forget to account for the chairs. The type of chair you have, the space every seated person would take and the quantum of space you need to have available for those presiding the meetings or addressing the attendants should be considered and accounted for.
Styles of Conference Tables
There are four major styles of conference tables. These are traditional, transitional, modern and standing or height adjustable styles. Standing height tables or adjustable height tables are popular choices of the day. These tables enable the attendants to stand or sit, as they please. They are good for health, especially in an era when sitting for eight to ten hours is common. Such tables add more flexibility. They are sleek and contemporary. They can make a conference room look quite trendy. Business owners can explore a plethora of style elements while exploring such type of conference tables.
Modern styles ensure simplicity and sleekness. Such tables have a polished appearance. They have clean straight lines. There is no clutter or bulk. Modern conference room tables look nifty and they can accentuate a state of the art setting. Such styles are a rage among technology companies and enterprises that want to have their pursuit for innovation get reflected in the choices of furniture, décor and other installations.
Transitional styles are versatile conference tables. They are a perfect combination of traditional and modern styles. They can be tasteful and classy while being sleek and multipurpose. Traditional styles are the grand conference tables that corporations and government agencies around the world have even today. These are still celebrated for obvious reasons. The crown molding, elegant touches, details that are perfectly planned and ensured, the aesthetic attributes and durability, all features of traditional conference tables make them a timeless favorite.
Whichever style, design and size you choose for your conference room table, you should have seating that complements. If you need storage cabinets, desks, and bookcases among other furniture, those too should complement the table. You can shop for all of these simultaneously or you must assess the compatibility at the time of buying each of these fixtures.