Inspiring Meeting spaces

CHANGE IN WORKING ENVIRONMENTS

The nature of office work is changing. Remote workstations and ad hoc meetings are more and more common. Space needs for project-based work can change for each task. And mobile and remote working demand even more flexibility. Work is increasingly team-oriented, and in the future will be increasingly flexible. Advances in technology are what allow work to be more and more independent of place.

When work can be done anywhere, in any space, the office itself becomes a social hub for meetings, exchanging ideas and experiences, and social activities. It becomes more of a gathering place like a café or bazaar where colleagues meet to discuss projects and plans. The work itself is carried out away from the center, in more peaceful and quiet settings. The office then becomes a space for social interaction.

This means there is a growing need for group working spaces and conference rooms, as well as common spaces that can be used for gathering. This creates new possibilities and new potential for new design solutions.

 

FROM "OFFICE" TO "GATHERING PLACE"

A company can have many different kinds of gathering places to be used for meeting. They can be structured and designed in different ways to best facilitate communication work for each task. Planning begins with the customer’s organizational needs, with a focus on practices.  How is the space going to be used? Different kinds of gatherings require different kinds of spaces.  Spaces used for innovating will differ from those used mostly for seminars, for example, which will differ from those used for reporting, which in turn can differ from those used for presentations.  The mobility of furniture is important in every case though.

There is also the question of how to make use of existing spaces in creative new ways. Cafeterias, for example, are usually busy only during lunch.  How can we expand their functionality? Flexibility is the key to inspiring meeting spaces.

 

COMPANY PUBLIC SPACES

The lobby is a company public space that, like others, is in most cases used far less than it could be. Such spaces can be redesigned to support many different meeting activities and private communications. Company public spaces are very important for another reason – they are the ‘business card’ of the company.  Guests and visitors of all kinds form their impressions in such spaces.  All company public spaces should be carefully designed to reflect the company brand as effectively as possible.

The increase in working mobility means that more short-term tasks with customers and colleagues happen in company public spaces, too. They should therefore be designed with these two factors – brand image and short-term tasks – in mind.

Because users of such spaces do not sit for long periods of time, ergonomic considerations are not as important as awareness of the overall environment. There should be space for private calling and peaceful, undistracted working as well, though. Different types of acoustic elements can significantly improve such working environments.

 

VIRTUAL GATHERINGS

A virtual meeting is a really valuable way of coordinating remote teams  with real-time audio-video connections. Virtual meetings can be used for e-learning, team communication, information sharing, consultation, support and help-desk applications, health care, security, and for accessing expertise. Compared with face-to-face meetings, the benefits are many. Perhaps the most obvious is that eliminating the need for transportation reduces travel costs. Other benefits include improved communication, increased productivity, enhanced learning and expert participation, and reduced environmental costs. And saving workers time improves health – they aren’t exhausted by travel.

Designing Inspiring meeting spaces that use technology to the best advantage is something we at Martela are always improving upon.  We never forget that inspired employees create value.