Meeting room names can boost innovation and wellbeing

What’s in a (conference room) name?

Rather a lot, it turns out.

As surprising as it might sound, the simple act of naming meeting rooms can impact innovation, creativity and wellbeing in your organization.

Conference room names are a symbol of culture.

This was clear when Arianna Huffington highlighted the importance of meeting room names in her speech to Uber staff, amidst attempts to reform the company’s tarnished image: “And another important symbol of change,” she said, “the War Room has been renamed the Peace Room. Because everybody knows, peace is a lot more productive and sustainable than war.”


Conference room names reflect your brand values

Conference and meeting room names communicate your values and aspirations to employees and visitors. It may be one of the most cost-effective office design quick wins you can implement to inspire collaboration, innovation and creativity in your organization.

And who couldn’t do with a sprinkling of magic innovation dust?

Particularly those who are still working in environments that emphasize process efficiency and workforce control, twentieth-century-style, with stale meeting rooms that undermine creativity.


The need for meeting room transformation

Research shows we need all the help we can get, unveiling an opportunity for workplace designers – whether transformational Facilities Managers, HR professionals, or maverick managers – to remove barriers to creativity and inspire peak performance… by tweaking the meeting experience.

Adobe’s 2012 State of Create global benchmark study showed that 8 in 10 people feel that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth, yet only 1 in 4 believe they’re living up to their own creative potential. Lack of time was cited as the biggest barrier to creativity; and a third of respondents said they wished they had an environment where they could think creatively.

Meanwhile McKinsey’s research revealed that 84% of executives believe innovation is critical for their growth strategy, yet only 6% are satisfied with innovation performance – and very few know what the problem is or how to improve.

Many leading organizations are realizing that the simplest changes are often the most effective, not least because they actually get done!

Embarking on a conference room naming exercise is a good place to start.


Transforming your meeting room booking journey

Even before employees or visitors enter a meeting room, you can inject some fun and positivity into their day that sets the tone for the meeting. The conference room booking journey might begin in Outlook, or in your meeting room booking software or workplace scheduling app.

Browsing through a list of quirky room names when they’re arranging their meetings makes people feel connected to your organization and offers a simple way to spread positivity.


Creating a more positive employee experience

According to researcher J.M. George, negative moods move people to think and act negatively, leading to cynicism about others and their ideas, which spreads like a virus, damaging creativity, idea generation and problem solving capabilities.

That’s why it’s important to consider the meeting room booking journey from end to end.

J.M. George’s studies confirmed that a positive mood at work fosters ‘pro-social’ behaviours. In other words, we’re more helpful, provide better levels of service, collaborate more and go above and beyond the call of duty.

Fun conference names provide a feel-good nudge as you go about your business each day.


The importance of conference rooms in shaping identity

How people feel about the meeting room space, ‘place identity’, impacts the success of your workspace design as much as the space itself. As we become attached to places, we start to identify with them.

Researchers Brandi Pearce and Pamela Hinds claim that when employees identify with a space, they’re more engaged, more communicative with peers and feel a stronger sense of connection to the company.

Your office environment – including your meeting rooms and conference rooms – impact how your people see themselves.

“We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us” – Winston Churchill


If you want innovation, give people innovative meeting rooms

If our sense of who we are is influenced by our workplace – and we spend much of our time in meetings – it stands to reason that organizations who want to boost creativity and innovation must provide meeting rooms that make people feel like creative, innovative individuals.

We’re selling ourselves short if we hire talented innovators, only to shove them into boring spaces they can’t identify with and expect them to set the world on fire.

Meeting room names help provide this sense of identity, reflecting our cultural traits and communicating what’s important to the organization and the people who comprize it.

A top team of innovative product designers booking their project meetings in the ‘Steve Jobs’ room, as opposed to ‘room 57 on the first floor’, may find themselves conducting their meeting with a certain swagger. The swagger of those who are putting their ding in the universe, or skating to where the puck is going to be, perhaps. [Meeting Room Naming Tip: it wouldn’t hurt to plaster these Steve Jobs quotes all over the walls in your Steve Jobs room, so the name reflects the interior].


How conference room names influence performance

Conference room names may even help ‘prime’ people to do their best work.

A study by Dijksterhuis and van Knippenberg – made famous by Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Blink’ – indicated that performance can be ‘primed’. The researchers primed test subjects to think about what it’s like to be a soccer hooligan or a professor, before playing Trivial Pursuit. The people who spent time thinking about being a professor performed significantly better than that the soccer hooligan group.

There are 11 million meetings held every single day in the US alone, so imagine the impact of booking all these meetings, and spend all this time, in conference rooms that are dull, drab and resemble an episode of ‘The Office’, vs booking the ‘Buzz Aldrin’ room or having our team meeting in the ‘Albert Einstein’ innovation lab? [Hint: these are examples of meeting room names at Elon Musk’s space travel company, SpaceX].

Naming meeting rooms can communicate how they’re different, giving each room its own personality. You can also use conference room naming conventions to give employees a clue as to what they can expect to find in the room.


Using meeting room displays to support your brand

The meeting room booking experience – and of course the room itself – isn’t the only part of the journey where we can scream ‘this is a creative, innovative place to be’ – there’s also an opportunity to use meeting room displays outside each room.

Meeting room display screens enable people to see which rooms are available at a glance, while providing people with a visual cue that reminds everyone there’s always a space there for you when you need it.

The ability to make impromptu bookings, to pop in and discuss something, is vital to any innovative organization. Conference room displays make it clear whether a room is available, while giving you the opportunity to show off your funky meeting room name to employees and visitors. You can even make or edit a room booking through the meeting room display.

So… what will you call yours?


Top conference room name ideas and examples

Here’s some conference room namespiration to help you get the creative juices flowing…

How’s about naming your rooms after cities, movies, TV shows, famous scientists, artists or other innovators? Maybe you could try multiple themes or mashups?

Don’t forget, names reflect your company culture – your brand – so in most cases, it doesn’t hurt to have a sense of humour.

  • Instagram uses Game of Thrones names, while Atlassian references movies and literature
  • LinkedIn has rooms that reflect Bay Area neighborhoods like Golden Gate and Glen Canyon; others that reflect San Francisco writers like Ginsberg and Kerouac; video game themed rooms like Call of Duty: AW and Godzilla: Unleashed… and lots more.
  • BuzzFeed uses acronyms like OMG and WTF. They also have food-themed rooms like Waffle Fries and Grilled Cheese; celebrity-themed rooms like Jennifer Lawrence and Ryan Gosling… and other rooms that embody the boldness of their brand.
  • Etsy blends music and food themes with names like Bon Bon Jovi, Pjork and Red Velvet Underground.
  • Groupon has rooms with names like ‘It was canceled’, ‘Meet locker’ and ‘NO CEO’.
  • The New York Times calls their boardroom the Churchill Room because it contains a bust of Winston Churchill; and they have a Page One Room where the editors meet to decide which stories should go on page one.
  • Google has themes like New York City, with rooms named City Hall, Radio City and Washington Heights; and seasons, with rooms like Snowball, Sandcastle and Lemonade Stand.


The top 3 steps to naming your meeting rooms

Now that you’re feeling suitably inspired, let’s look at the 3 steps to boosting innovation by naming your conference rooms:

  1. Step 1 – assess the scope for (quick) change. If you have the authority to name and brand meeting rooms in your organization en masse, that’s great. But even if you don’t – or if you face a lengthy approvals process – that doesn’t mean you can’t make a start. To shrink the change, choose one room as your initial focus and find out which colleagues use it the most. If you use a meeting room booking system that provides data on workspace utilization, this could help you identify a well used room, as well as identifying who books the most meetings in it. Then you can make sure these users are involved in the naming process.
  2. Step 2 – plan out how to elicit feedback and participation from colleagues. Which existing communication channels can you leverage to talk about the project and get people excited? Should you send an all-company email? Or perhaps create a series of posts or a group on your internal social networking platform, sharing inspiring names and stories of what other companies have achieved? Maybe you can create physical artefacts like posters on conference room walls, to promote involvement in the meeting room naming initiative? Try using a simple survey tool, like Survey Monkey, to gather potential themes and feedback on those themes. Aim to democratically pick some overarching themes, then room names that fit within them.
  3. Step 3 – implement the change. If you use a workspace scheduling solution to book meeting rooms, desks and other facilities, configure it with your new room names. That way people can see the meeting room names when they use your conference room booking app. If your room booking system integrates with Outlook, avid Outlook users will also be able to see the new funky conference room names when they arrange their next get-together. Don’t forget to ensure your meeting room displays clearly show the name of each space, so employees and visitors can see at a glance whether they’re entering the ‘Neil Armstrong’ or ‘Strawberry Mojito’ room.


The importance of collaborative conference room naming

It’s important not to miss the trick of involving employees in your meeting room naming exercise.

A University of Exeter study showed that popular approaches to office space design often overlook the psychological needs of employees. They demonstrated that most organizations are missing out on the benefits that accrue when employees are included in decisions about their workspace. The research showed that people who are included in the design of their spaces come to identify both with that space and with the organization itself. Conversely, when employees have pre-determined space changes thrust upon them, they feel disempowered and are more likely to take a negative view of the change; and of the organization overall.

So don’t forget that conference room naming can be a great team-building opportunity.

At Facebook, involving employees in conference room naming is a long-standing tradition. First they pick themes for the conference room in their area, then they vote them up or down, before voting on names within that theme. As a result they end up with multiple themes, including ‘horrible life ideas’, with room names like Fighting Chuck Norris and Running with Scissors; and ‘star wars crossed with drinks’, with names like Brewbacca and Jar Jar Drinks.


Recap – the top 10 reasons why creative conference room names can transform your business

  1. Conference room names are a symbol of culture
  2. Conference room names communicate your values and aspirations to employees and visitors
  3. Naming your conference rooms can signal change and embody the transformation you’re trying to bring about
  4. Quirky, creative meeting room names can inject positivity and fun into the employee experience
  5. Conference room names can liven up the employee journey even before you show up to your meeting
  6. Conference room names that reflect our identity can make us feel more connected to the company
  7. Naming meeting rooms after innovators can provide inspiration and set the tone for innovation
  8. Clever meeting room names can ‘prime’ people for peak performance
  9. Meeting room displays can ‘advertize’ our funky spaces and make it clear which rooms are available
  10. Conference room naming offers an opportunity for team-building and employee involvement

Do you share our passion for creating workspaces that boost collaboration, innovation and productivity? Find out how much you could increase ‘Collaborative Velocity’ in your organization by optimizing space utilization – using this ROI calculator.

If you’d like to share ideas and discover how we can help, book a demo now.

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