Conference Table Buying Guide: What You Need to Know

Conference Table Buying Guide What You Need to Know

Conference tables play a significant role in facilitating productive discussions, decision-making processes, and collaborative work in a professional setting. These tables serve as a central gathering place for meetings, presentations, negotiations, and brainstorming sessions. Their importance lies not only in providing a physical space for participants to sit and engage but also in creating an environment conducive to effective communication and teamwork.

The purpose of this article is to explore the various aspects related to conference tables in a professional setting. It will delve into their design, functionality, and features that contribute to their effectiveness. Additionally, the article will discuss the benefits of using conference tables, such as enhancing communication, promoting inclusivity, and fostering creativity. Furthermore, it will highlight the different types of conference tables available and provide insights into selecting the appropriate table for specific needs.

By examining the significance of conference tables and understanding how they contribute to the overall success of meetings and collaborations, professionals can make informed decisions when it comes to choosing the right table for their workspace.

Types of Conference Table

Rectangular tables

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Rectangular tables are characterized by their long and straight shape, with equal sides and sharp corners. They are often made of materials such as wood, glass, or metal and come in various sizes to accommodate different meeting spaces. Key features of rectangular tables include:

a. Straightforward layout: The simple and linear design of rectangular tables provides a structured layout, making it easy to align chairs and set up equipment like laptops, projectors, or teleconferencing devices.

b. Ample workspace: Rectangular tables offer a generous amount of surface area, allowing participants to spread out documents, laptops, and other materials during meetings.

c. Cable management: Many rectangular tables come equipped with built-in cable management systems, providing a neat and organized solution for managing electrical and data cables.

d. Professional appearance: Rectangular tables often convey a formal and professional aesthetic, making them well-suited for formal meetings, presentations, and executive settings.

Due to their structured layout and formal appearance, rectangular tables are ideal for formal meetings and presentations. They create a clear hierarchy and help establish a focal point for the presenter or facilitator. The long sides of the table allow for easy viewing of presentations or shared materials, ensuring that all participants can engage and follow the discussion effectively.

Rectangular tables are commonly found in boardrooms, conference rooms, and executive meeting spaces where professionalism and order are essential. They provide a balanced and organized setting that complements the formal nature of important meetings, board discussions, or client presentations.

Round Tables

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Round tables, as the name suggests, are circular in shape with no sharp corners. They can be made of various materials such as wood, laminate, or glass and are available in different sizes to accommodate different group sizes. Key features of round tables include:

a. Equal seating arrangement: Round tables allow all participants to have an equal position and view, as there are no distinct “heads” or designated seats. This promotes a sense of equality and inclusiveness among attendees.

b. Enhanced communication: The absence of sharp corners in round tables facilitates better eye contact and communication among participants. Everyone can see each other’s facial expressions and body language, fostering a more collaborative and open discussion.

c. Flexibility in seating: Round tables offer flexibility in seating arrangements, as participants can easily turn to face each other or focus on a shared center point. This encourages interaction, active participation, and a more democratic exchange of ideas.

d. Space-efficient: Round tables can efficiently utilize space, especially in smaller meeting rooms, as they don’t require additional space for chairs to be placed around corners.

Round tables are well-suited for collaborative settings where teamwork, brainstorming, and open dialogue are essential. They encourage equal participation and collaboration by eliminating any visual hierarchy that rectangular tables might have. Round tables create a more intimate and inclusive atmosphere, facilitating discussions where all participants feel engaged and heard.

Boat-Shaped Tables

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Boat-shaped tables, also known as oval tables, combine elements of rectangular and round tables. They have a wider center section and taper toward the ends, resembling the shape of a boat or an ellipse. Boat-shaped tables share some features with both rectangular and round tables, including:

a. Balanced seating arrangement: Boat-shaped tables offer a balanced seating arrangement, similar to rectangular tables, with a clear focal point for presentations or discussions.

b. Collaborative atmosphere: The rounded ends of boat-shaped tables provide a similar sense of inclusiveness and collaboration found in round tables. They allow participants at the ends to face each other easily and encourage interaction.

c. Ample workspace: The wider center section of boat-shaped tables provides ample workspace, similar to rectangular tables. This allows for the spread of materials and easy access to shared resources during meetings.

d. Aesthetically pleasing: Boat-shaped tables often have an elegant and contemporary design that can enhance the visual appeal of a meeting space.

Boat-shaped tables offer a middle ground between rectangular and round tables, combining the benefits of both. They are suitable for meetings that require a mix of formal structure and collaborative engagement. Boat-shaped tables can be found in conference rooms, executive suites, or collaborative work areas where a balance of formality and inclusiveness is desired.

Modular Tables

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Modular tables are designed with flexibility in mind. They consist of individual table segments that can be rearranged, connected, or expanded to accommodate different meeting setups. Key features of modular tables include:

a. Configurable design: The modular nature of these tables allows for various configurations, such as U-shape, L-shape, or boardroom style. They can be easily adjusted to meet the specific needs of a meeting or collaborative activity.

b. Scalability: Modular tables can adapt to different group sizes and meeting requirements. Additional segments can be added or removed, providing scalability and versatility.

c. Easy storage and transportation: The individual segments of modular tables can often be stacked or nested, enabling efficient storage and transportation when not in use.

d. Integration with technology: Many modular tables come equipped with built-in power outlets, data ports, and cable management solutions to support modern technology requirements in meetings.

Modular tables are ideal for dynamic work environments where meeting setups vary frequently. They are commonly used in training rooms, conference centers, and flexible workspaces where the configuration of the furniture needs to adapt to different activities and group sizes. Modular tables provide the flexibility to create a collaborative work environment or a more formal presentation setup, depending on the specific needs of each meeting.

Size Considerations

Seating capacity

When selecting a conference table, it is crucial to consider the seating capacity required for your meetings. Determine the average number of participants and the maximum number of attendees you anticipate. This will help you choose a table that can comfortably accommodate everyone.

To ensure a comfortable and productive meeting environment, it is important to consider the spacing between individuals. Allow sufficient space for each person to have elbow room and to move their chair in and out comfortably. A general guideline is to leave around 24 to 30 inches (61 to 76 cm) of table width per person.

Room dimensions

Before selecting a conference table, measure the dimensions of your meeting room to ensure a proper fit. Consider the length, width, and height of the room. Take note of any architectural features, such as doors, windows, or columns, that may impact the placement and size of the table.

In addition to accommodating the table, leave enough space for participants to move around the room comfortably. Allow clearance between the table and walls or other furniture to prevent a cramped environment. Consider the flow of foot traffic and ensure there is ample space for people to enter and exit the room without obstruction.

Materials and Durability

Wood is a popular material choice for conference tables due to its timeless appeal and durability. Different types of wood offer varying characteristics:

a. Hardwoods like oak, mahogany, or walnut are known for their sturdiness, durability, and elegant appearance.

b. Softwoods like pine or cedar may be more affordable options but may require additional maintenance to prevent scratches and dents.

Wood conference tables generally require regular maintenance to preserve their appearance and durability. Consider factors such as the type of finish, sealing, and cleaning requirements. Ensure that the wood is properly treated to resist stains, scratches, and water damage. Regular dusting and using appropriate cleaning products will help maintain the table’s longevity.

Laminate conference tables offer a cost-effective and versatile option. They are constructed with a synthetic material that is layered and bonded to a solid core. Advantages of laminate tables include:

a. Wide range of designs and finishes, including wood grain or solid colors.

b. Resistance to stains, scratches, and heat.

c. Affordability compared to solid wood or glass tables.

d. Low maintenance and easy cleaning.

However, laminate tables may not have the same aesthetic appeal as natural wood or glass tables, and they may not provide the same level of durability in high-impact environments.

Glass conference tables offer a sleek and modern aesthetic that can complement various office decors. They create a sense of openness and light in the room. Glass tables are usually made with tempered glass, which is stronger and safer than regular glass.

While glass tables are visually appealing, they do require specific care and maintenance considerations:

a. Regular cleaning is necessary to maintain a polished appearance and remove fingerprints or smudges.

b. Glass tables may be more prone to scratches and visible dust or debris.

c. Consider the thickness and quality of the glass to ensure durability and safety.

d. Glass tables can be heavy, so ensure that the supporting structure is strong and stable.

Shape and Design

  1. Matching the table with the overall office decor

When selecting a conference table, consider the existing office decor and design aesthetics. Choose a table that complements the overall style, whether it’s modern, contemporary, traditional, or a specific theme. Harmonizing the table with the surrounding environment creates a cohesive and visually appealing workspace.

  1. Contemporary vs. traditional designs

Consider the desired impression and atmosphere you want to create in your conference room. Contemporary designs often feature clean lines, minimalist aesthetics, and sleek materials like glass or metal. Traditional designs may incorporate more ornate details, wood finishes, and a formal appearance. Select a design that aligns with your organization’s culture and the purpose of the conference room.

Wire management and connectivity features

  1. Built-in power outlets and data ports

In today’s technology-driven world, having convenient access to power outlets and data ports is essential for meetings. Look for conference tables that come with built-in power outlets and data ports. These features enable participants to connect laptops, charge devices, and access data easily, minimizing the need for unsightly cords and adapters on the table surface.

  1. Cable management solutions

Effective cable management is crucial to maintain a clean and organized workspace. Look for conference tables that offer built-in cable management solutions, such as grommets, wire trays, or channels. These features help conceal and manage cables, reducing clutter and creating a safer environment.

Setting a budget range

Before selecting a conference table, establish a budget range based on your organization’s financial constraints and priorities. Consider the value, longevity, and functionality that the table will provide over time. Be prepared to allocate funds for additional features or accessories that are important to your specific needs.

While budget is a consideration, it’s important to balance cost with the quality and functionality of the conference table. Investing in a well-constructed and durable table can provide long-term cost savings by minimizing the need for frequent replacements or repairs. Consider the materials, construction, warranty, and reputation of the manufacturer when evaluating the overall value of the table.

Additional Features and Accessories

Along with the conference table, consider the chairs or seating options that will accompany it. Look for chairs that provide ergonomic support, comfort, and a cohesive design aesthetic. Consider the number of chairs needed and ensure they fit well around the table without compromising comfort or movement.

If storage is a requirement, consider conference tables that offer built-in storage options such as drawers, shelves, or cabinets. These can be convenient for storing documents, meeting supplies, or equipment, keeping the workspace organized and clutter-free.

Depending on your specific needs, explore additional accessories that can enhance the functionality of the conference table. This may include tabletop grommets for cable management, built-in audiovisual equipment like screens or projectors, or other features that streamline the meeting experience. Evaluate these accessories based on their relevance and value for your organization.

When purchasing a conference table, several key factors should be taken into account:

  1. Types of tables: Consider the different shapes and designs available, such as rectangular, round, boat-shaped, or modular tables, and choose the one that best suits your meeting requirements.
  2. Size considerations: Determine the seating capacity needed and consider the room dimensions to ensure a proper fit and allow sufficient space for movement.
  3. Materials and durability: Evaluate the pros and cons of different materials, such as wood, laminate, or glass, and choose based on aesthetics, maintenance requirements, and durability.
  4. Shape and design: Consider the style that matches your office decor and the desired atmosphere, whether contemporary or traditional. Also, assess the wire management and connectivity features available to ensure a clean and organized workspace.
  5. Budget considerations: Set a budget range and balance cost with quality and functionality, considering the long-term value of the conference table.
  6. Additional features and accessories: Explore options for chairs and seating, storage solutions, and accessories that can enhance the functionality and productivity of the conference table setup.

Every organization has unique needs and requirements for their conference table. By carefully considering the factors discussed, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your organization’s culture, budget, and functionality requirements. Prioritize the features that are most important to your meetings and select a conference table that fosters collaboration, professionalism, and productivity in your professional setting.