Welcoming Startup Meeting Spaces and How to Create Them

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MakeSpace office designed by Mary Davis

Over the past few years, I’ve played host or guest in startup offices here in New York City surely a hundred times or more. In that time I’ve begun to notice some bothersome patterns that I thought I’d share with you along with suggestions of best practices in startup office meeting space design.

The lights are on but….

The latest in startup hospitality seems to be to let people emerge from the elevators and have absolutely no one great them. The guest stands there awkwardly scanning the walls and listening for some sound of life until they catch the eye of whatever (usually female) employee is nearest to entrance and that person sets forth the chain reaction that connects host to guest.

In the absence of this interaction, the guest is prompted to type in  their information into an iPad, take a seat, and wait eagerly for the footsteps of someone who will come and retrieve them.

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People, can we stop the madness?!

Offices have receptionists because there is warmth and kindness in being received. Trust me, I have worked as a receptionist. It is not a great job, but humans welcoming and directing other humans is the right way to treat people. If you don’t want to have someone’s sole job be receptionist at your company, then making it a rotating duty amongst the team, but someone must be there to great and direct guests so:

Tip #1: Hire/be a receptionist.

Catch a signal

The first thing I usually need when I get to a new office is access to their wi-fi. Unfortunately, this is almost always the one thing the host never has. I’ve seen people run clear around their office trying to hunt down the password. Time is wasted, silliness ensues.

Tip #2: Just post the wi-fi password prominently in every meeting space. 

Tour de l’office

From confusing directions to elaborate lock, key, passcode systems, so many things have stood between me and getting into the bathroom when I am in a new office. Again, time is wasted and awkwardness ensues as I wind my way around people’s desks to get to the facilities. This is a toughie since this is likely one of the things that is hardest to control, but whenever possible…

Tip #3 Minimize the distance between the bathroom and the meeting room(s). 

Can you hear/see me now?

How much time have we all spent trying to get our screens mirrored or locating the right dongle for the office television. I’ve often had hosts ask me to send along my login or presentation so they could just present from their laptops which had already undergone to elaborate configuration to work with the company’s A/V setup. Then of course,  everything falls over when we add the confusing, laggy, and altogether bugginess of video conferences. While so much is still so wonky with modern, digital meetings, there is still a little within our control.

Tip #4 Leave clear A/V instructions and keep all necessary cables and adapters in every meeting room. 


So those are the top 4 things that drive me up the wall in startup offices. What about you?

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