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Private Meeting Rooms – WHY BOTHER?

Karen Kirby - greenshoot HR

Guest Blog By Karen Kirby: greenshoot HR

Karen Kirby from greenshoot HR specialises in helping business owners and managers to develop and implement effective HR systems and processes.


Guest blog by Karen Kirby: greenshoot HR

You may be very pleased to know that this blog is not about GDPR (directly) – if that disappoints you, you may need to look elsewhere. This is about the need to create privacy when having certain conversations, specifically HR conversations, but this can equally apply to business strategy discussions.


I, almost exclusively, work with micro businesses (smaller than small) and most of my clients have micro premises to match. Even where they do have a private office or larger meeting room, these are usually very close to offices or workspaces. I have had conversations where we have had to stop every few minutes as (fortunately) we can hear floorboards creaking outside the door, indicating that someone is hovering. I have even sat in a client’s office which is next to a cupboard with staff finding any excuse to use that cupboard, just to hear what’s going on.

I get that sometimes private or sensitive conversations happen without plan and I would recommend that where you feel a conversation is likely to be about another person and is of a sensitive and confidential nature, you plan to have this conversation out of earshot. This may mean that you arrange a meeting elsewhere – coffee shops, restaurants and bars are great, but they aren’t private. A fit-for-purpose meeting venue would be the best place.

I get that these conversations at times evolve and in those situations we all need to be mindful of where we are and who might be listening. Personally, I have a very loud voice and try as I might, I do forget and find it hard to whisper – and when we suddenly go quiet, it naturally raises the suspicion of the eavesdroppers. When this happens – move or re-schedule that conversation.

When you know you need to have a private conversation – in my world that would be a disciplinary or grievance hearing, redundancy consultations, HR strategy and planning meetings – if you do not have a suitable room on your premises, booking a meeting room off-site is a good idea. As well as providing privacy, it gives a degree of confidentiality to the meeting. I am an HR consultant and however much I want to be involved in positive HR matters, the reality is that my presence in the business usually means something negative is happening – so the eavesdroppers’ and gossips’ nosiness-antennae go into overdrive. Therefore, having a meeting off site makes it a much more private and neutral affair.

And so, to GDPR – indirectly. Data protection legislation has for many years looked to protect personal data in how we use, store, share and process it. Having meetings off site usually involves having to transport personal data outside of the workplace – in folders or on laptops and tablets. Please be mindful when booking your meeting room of the core data protection principles, and:

  • Only take the information you absolutely need for the conversation. You don’t need a person’s whole file to conduct a disciplinary or grievance hearing and at the meeting stage, you will not need addresses.
  • Check and double-check that you collect all papers and documents before you leave the room.
  • Shield such documents and screen from meeting venue staff.
  • Use a meeting venue that has secure Wi-Fi – or be mindful what might be accessed if you are using your cloud storage.
  • Secure the documents and equipment when in transit – especially if using public transport.

I use a wide range of meeting rooms for such purposes in hotels and meeting venues. Obviously, location is important. You don’t want to be miles away and when in Uttoxeter or when I need a central location (because participants are coming from far and wide), I use Heath House Conference Centre and Business Hub. Their meeting rooms can cater for two to twenty people (which you obviously wouldn’t have for a disciplinary hearing, but you might for a strategy meeting or panel interview). There is a reception area so the people involved can wait without being subjected to prying eyes and questions. There are extra rooms for breakout groups (useful in planning meetings with large numbers), adjournment discussions (for disciplinary, grievance and redundancy meetings), and additional space for selection tests or different panels in recruitment meetings.

To find out more about the private meeting rooms availble at Heath House Conference Centre, contact the events team at Heath House Conference Centre on 01889 567 014 alternativley take a look at the small private meeting rooms

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