If you work in an office, you probably have at least one conference room in which most of your meetings are held. But what do you do when a great idea pops into your head on the fly and all of the boardrooms are booked? Do you risk sending an email that can be easily ignored? Do you hold a powwow in a co-worker’s tight, compact cubicle? The issue of a lack of conference room space has inspired a fairly new trend in corporate office design—the addition of small, casual meeting areas known as touchdown spaces. Here are five tips to consider if you’d like to add one of these little huddle points to your office.
Location, location, location. The location of your casual meeting space will be hugely important, so choose wisely. You’ll want to place it in an area that’s nearby the teams that will be using it the most, but make sure it’s not too close to any major distractions such as loud copiers or bustling training rooms.
Keep it quiet. Speaking of avoiding distractions, be aware of noise levels when selecting your space. You’ll most likely want to add it to an area wherein you will not be distracted by others around you and you will not be a distraction to them either. For example, meeting area in the middle of a call center might not be the best idea, as the surrounding noises can be distracting and take away from the conversation. Plus, your meetings will be distracting for employees at their desks, making it difficult for them to focus. Instead, try grouping casual meeting spaces by department. This way, all of the employees in the area are more likely to use that space together at the same time, eliminating or drastically reducing the opportunity for distracting situations.
Big ideas in a small package. Remember, this area is for quick, casual meetings between a few people, so be careful not to take up too much room in the office. A small grouping of two to four chairs surrounding a compact conference table or even a low coffee table is ideal, providing just enough space for quick, comfortable collaboration.
Leave it open. Possibly the most important thing to keep in mind when designing a casual meeting space is to keep it open. That is to say, do not allow this space to be reserved in advance, lest it become just another unreachable conference room. Incorporating multiple huddle areas in your office should minimize the chances of every conference room being booked at the same time, ensuring that all employees will be able to get together at the drop of a hat.
Do double duty. A casual meeting space can take many forms. For example, an employee lounge or outdoor break area can easily be transformed into a little conference space outside of the normal lunch period. Utilizing these small touchpoints for multiple purposes will help maximize the space available in your office.
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