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Is the Future of Business Meetings Outside?

With the sun doing its best to cut through as Spring turns to Summer and the COVID restrictions easing off, it certainly feels as though we’re heading into brighter times.

With that said, business travel is unlikely to return to the pre-pandemic levels, but perhaps it is time to hang up your Zoom call and venture into London for an outdoor meeting.

Meeting in public has a set of good criteria – it’s free, ambient, and the fresh air provides a healthier environment to congregate. There are no stuffy, windowless meeting rooms. Instead, you can enjoy a green landscape, birds chirping, and everything you need for a relaxed meeting.

Not all public spaces are created equal for a meeting, though, so we’ve collated the essential features for an outdoor appointment and listed our top six recommended spots in London to convene your meeting.

Essential Features Of An Outdoor Meeting

But first, what are the essential features of your outdoor meeting?

1. Toilets

Whether or not you’re taking a picnic along to your meeting your attendees may have travelled some distance to arrive and proximity to toilets are the most important feature for a comfortable meeting.

toilet
access
2. Accessibility

Accessibility in the outdoor meeting realm means not only easy to get to but easy to find once you’re there. Some obvious landmarks or a small space where you can locate each other easy are important features.

3. Noise Level

Nothing will ruin your ambient meeting setting more than a regular train going over tracks nearby or the rumble of a big road.

noise level
food and drink outdoor
4. Access to Food and Drink

This could be nearby or on the way to the venue from the train station, but your attendees will be more relaxed with a cup of their favourite drink in hand, or at least access to free water fountains or jugs.

5. Ambience

Greenspace, birds chirping, flowers in bloom, butterflies fluttering about the gardens. These are the elements that may just enable some real blue-sky thinking.

flower

Below we have rated seven of our favourite outdoor meeting spots in London based on the above criteria.

1. The Royal Festival Hall

Score 9/10

Royal-Festival

The Royal Festival Hall is the top scorer among these options. It is located at Waterloo, with ample outdoor space on the terrace and overlooks the Thames.

The cafes offer food and drink for purchase, but there is also complimentary water inside.  

The only slight downfall may be the noise level, but there you can get swept up in the atmosphere.  

There are also ample toilets in the venue.  An additional advantage of being linked to a large indoor space is that you can always dash inside if the rain starts.  

2. St James’s Park

Score 8/10

Royal-Festival

It is hard to beat St James’s Park for a stunning, green location. The squirrels aren’t as aggressive as other parks in London, and the pelicans generally don’t bother you.

Like any meeting in a park, navigation can be difficult, which is why we recommend a spot nearby the restaurant Inn The Park. The last time we checked, the restaurant allowed park goers access to the toilets.

The disadvantage for any outdoor space like this is the weather, but this is the perfect place for an open meeting on a gorgeous spring day.

3. Bernie Spain Garden

Score 7/10

It is hard to beat St James’s Park for a stunning, green location. The squirrels aren’t as aggressive as other parks in London, and the pelicans generally don’t bother you.

Like any meeting in a park, navigation can be difficult, which is why we recommend a spot nearby the restaurant Inn The Park. The last time we checked, the restaurant allowed park goers access to the toilets.

The disadvantage for any outdoor space like this is the weather, but this is the perfect place for an open meeting on a gorgeous spring day.

4. The Barbican Speed Gardens

Score 7/10

Barbican

The Barbican Arts Centre is well served for inside and outside space. Like The Royal Festival Hall, there are toilets, access to water and cafes to purchase food and coffee from.

It is not as central as The Royal Festival Hall and leans slightly to the East of the city, though like its counterpart, it can provide shelter from the rain.

5. Bloomsbury Square

Score 6/10

Boomsburry

What London’s oldest square lacks in toilets or a café it makes up in romantic charm. Bloomsbury Square is a central location between Russell Square and Holborn.

There are no onsite toilets, but the ever-faithful Pret A Manger is around the corner.

Tucked away from the bustle of Southhampton Row, here you should get a peaceful experience for your meeting. And you can enjoy showing off your London prowess but giving them a quick update on Virginia Woolf and Ts Eliot – whose old offices are on the square.

There are plenty of cafes to stop along the way and pick up a coffee.

6. Lincolns Inn Fields

Score 6/10

Lincolns Inn Fields is a beautiful but busy green space tucked away in central London between Holborn and Kings Cross.

There are public facilities though we haven’t used them.

Navigation may prove difficult if you haven’t been there before. The space is a square with few landmarks, so accessibility might not be as easy as in other locations.

With that said, we’ve given this a bonus point for being in an incredibly convenient spot for commuters.

We hope this has encouraged you to consider an outdoor meeting. Going into our second year under Covid 19 has made many of us realise how much we took for granted in day-to-day interactions with each other.  

While many indoor locations remain closed, why not be adventurous and try a meeting outside?