Paris is in London, New York is in Amsterdam, and Everyone is Confused

ConfRoom_450x300For years I’ve been advising people to avoid using colorful names for their conference rooms. For years many haven’t been listening.

Whether I visit hotels in Toronto where the rooms are called “Hong Kong”, “Singapore”, “San Francisco” and the like, or visit businesses in Colorado where the rooms are called “Mt. Evans”, “Mt. Shavano” and “Pyramid Peak”, the results are always the same – people have no idea where their meeting room is. While these creative names may seem more colorful or may pay better tribute to the local attractions they require room users to either memorize where every room is or refer to a map / guide – which they then have to search for as well.

Even worse than not knowing, when geographical names are used they create double confusion when they have videoconferencing capabilities (which every new room being built today should be able to support as I’ve blogged about before.) Can you imagine having to tell people that their call with Paris is in the Amsterdam room, or New York is in San Francisco? I’ve lived through those situations. While they might seem trivial, believe me, they’re not funny when people are in the wrong room and missing their meeting.

The right answer for conference room names — regardless of traditional office layouts or modern open-plan ones — is the simplest. Start in one corner with the floor number and the letter A, then go clockwise through the alphabet. When a user finds themselves at room 12D they know 12C is somewhere to the left and 12E is somewhere to the right. No map or memorization skills are needed. (If you have more than 26 conference rooms on a floor your organization is having too many meetings — get outside and enjoy the sunshine once in a while.)

Please use this free advice to plan your future spaces and/or print this blog to present to any architect that offers cute but impractical suggestions. Or if needed, send me a note and I’ll happily get involved in your project and do it on your behalf. I’m told I can hold my own in an argument — as long as I can find the room the planning meeting is being held in.

This post originally appeared on David’s blog. It’s reprinted here with his permission.

About David Danto

David Danto has over 30 years of experience providing problem-solving leadership and innovation in media and unified communications technologies for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds, including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, FNN, Morgan Stanley, NYU, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase. He now works with Dimension Data as Principal Consultant for the collaboration, multimedia, video and AV disciplines. He is also the IMCCA’s Director of Emerging Technology.

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