5 Creative Ways to Maximize Meeting Spaces
A company’s meeting spaces are where new products are born, brand identity is shaped, vital decisions are made and company culture is brought to life. With the right direction, you can transform unused areas of the office and replace mundane conference rooms with dynamic, aesthetically pleasing spaces to host the creative process. Let’s take a look at what some of the best companies did when they traded in their boring meeting rooms for vibrant spaces.
1. Install glass to support an open-concept philosophy
Openness and transparency are becoming more valued in work environments and new office meeting rooms can be created to reflect this. If your organization is in need of additional meeting space, you can use real-time floor plan views to visualize the optimal location for new glass-walled meeting areas. These new areas can be small and help maintain an open-concept layout while providing the sound barrier needed for collaboration. And just like they do at Squarespace, visual teams can make use of the glass to copy down ideas as they brainstorm.
2. Turn floor space into playful meeting areas
Breaking from traditional meeting formats by incorporating activity can foster creativity and inspire new ideas. It can create camaraderie among employees and bring some necessary out-of-the-chair activity to their day. Whether you have enough room to install an indoor court for sports like Google’s Zurich office, or simply an empty corner with open floor space and a white board, incorporating games, competitions or team-based activities in standing meetings can inspire collaboration and help break away from those ever-boring, round-table conference room discussions. As the facility manager, it’s your job to free up these spaces and encourage department heads to take advantage of their availability. By using space management tools in your everyday processes, you can scope out free floor space and understand where quick and informal meetings can take place in the most accessible and least disruptive way.
3. Create “destination” meeting spaces
As more and more people work from home or remote locations, the need for technology that supports virtual collaboration is greater than ever and will only continue to grow. When designing their Midtown Manhattan office, software provider Adobe found that employees desired purposeful meeting rooms equipped with plug-and-play technology that easily supported communication with other team members around the globe. As a facility manager, you can free up more desks in the office by creating well-connected meeting spaces made for employees who are collaborating in a digital space.
4. Incorporate seating for a company-wide town hall
When they realized their need for a “town hall” space, Yodle’s facilities team got creative and built a large feature staircase in the middle of the office. The stadium style seating serves as a central gathering area and informal meeting space for one-on-ones or small group collaboration. The Harvard Business Review reports that the area “has become one of the most actively used settings in the entire office. Managers note that the fact that people linger there after meetings has increased inter-group learning.” They also point out that this type of innovative, multi-purpose space can attract a higher number of quality job applicants. While the addition of a staircase may not suit your office space, having a central point for connection is certainly something that should be at the top of your list.
5. Don’t forget to keep it comfortable
Excellent meeting spaces aren’t just functional. They should also be warm and inviting—whether they're out-of-the-box designs or simply take advantage of your workplace’s immediate surroundings. Skype’s headquarters located in Northern California feature outdoor-inspired meeting spaces made to look like campsites that create a cozy feel as teams get down to business. The entire space is representative of the local culture—right down to the slate “rocks” that function as cushions. Adobe’s Utah campus takes a similar approach to the campsite concept with a more modern, minimalist design. Combining traditional conference rooms with bright, open spaces can work wonders for helping employees feel comfortable and inspired.
As a facility manager, you are the designer and keeper of your company’s home base. Watch how office members are meeting with one another closely and take time to listen to their needs. When you help design and create practical, inspired meeting spaces, you bring vitality to the office and promote success among the people in it.
Are you looking for more ways to stretch your meeting room space? We’ve come up with 4 alternatives to your typical in-house meeting rooms. We’ve even compared the benefits of each, so you can decide which one will work best for your team!
Photos: Shutterstock / Jacob Lund, Shutterstock / wavebreakmedia, Shutterstock / ESB Basic