Finding your comfort zone : The Boardroom (Part 4)
If you read our previous Boardroom post about privacy and confidentiality, you’ll know we like you to think about your own space and ways of working before we suggest how to spend your hard-earned cash. So here goes:
Comfort = Good
- Boardroom meetings often require intense focus.
- They tend to be more formal than meetings held elsewhere in the workplace, often involving important visitors & clients.
- Let’s face it, board meetings can go on a bit.
For these reasons the boardroom needs to be welcoming with the minimum of distractions. Get your comfort level right and you will have a happy, engaged and focused team. But let us challenge you a moment …
Too comfortable = Bad
Whilst it is a widely accepted cultural norm that boardroom meetings can go on (and on, and on) we would like you to ask “why should they?” If we are really honest with ourselves, a large chunk of our time could be saved by being more efficient with our agendas and leaving the ego at the door. Shorter meetings will – over time – improve the bottom line.
Firstly: Think about where you host your meeting. Does it have to be in the boardroom? Could you meet in a more informal setting and free-up valuable space? Or even hold it standing or walking?? This Wall Street Journal article states “a study back in 1998 found that standing meetings were about a third shorter than sitting meetings and the quality of decision-making was about the same.”
Next: think about when you host your meeting. The same article suggests holding a meeting just before lunch to encourage quicker, more focused and efficient input from team members. Whether you think hunger is a motivating factor, or just a distraction, the timing of your meeting could make all the difference.
Where comfort is King we would recommend the following:
Let’s deal with the basics first:
Feeling like you are sitting in a greenhouse or a fridge/freezer is not conducive to a productive meeting. So, Can you open a window into your space? And do you have blinds to block out the light if needed? Sounds basic, but if your boardroom has no natural light or your glazing is fixed and you have no natural ventilation, you will need to think of introducing alternatives such as air conditioning, blinds, and dimmer switches.
Zoning: If you are endowed with a large boardroom, you may like to make the most of it by introducing additional break out space with soft seating. This is also beneficial if the room is used for long training sessions where breaks are necessary or lunch is served.
Planning: For those with just-enough space for a table and chairs, you may like to plan your room using the following guidelines:
- From the edge of the table leave 1100mm-1200mm to allow for chairs & circulation space.
- Decide on the length of your table by allowing 760mm per chair. (A minimum would be 710mm, a generous amount would be 910mm.)
- Guestimate the maximum number of people you will have around your table at any one time. E.g. A board of ten members, arranged with one at each end and four down each side would require a table length of 3040mm.
- Be aware that chairs differ in size of footprint. “Executive” chairs tend to be noticeably wider and have a larger footprint than a training chair. Which leads us nicely onto our next item…
Once you have addressed the ambient comfort and roughly planned your space, how and with what do you fill it?
: There are infinite options on the market, so here are some questions to help you decide what’s right for you:
• Do you need a flexible / stackable chair?
• Do you want an “executive” look or something more casual?
• Think about more than just the seat: does it need castors, arms, or an adjustable back?
From our experience in specifying furniture, we would recommend the following:
- Choose a cantilever chair for greater flexibility (compared to a chair with four legs). Flexibility is key in maintaining comfort as it allows the user to move more. Cantilever chairs can be stackable depending on your specification.
- Our top recommendation would be a hi-brid chair like the one above. So-called because it sits somewhere in between a task chair (with full flex and adjustability) and a traditional meeting room chair (with none of the above). This chair has a fixed back and arms, plenty of flex, castors and an adjustable height mechanism.
: If any of your team members have special requirements when it comes to ergonomics, you may want to think about introducing foot rests or lumbar support. These products are relatively cheap and easy ways to improve the comfort level in the boardroom, especially if you are not in a position to invest in all-new furniture.
: Homely touches like Plants lend a boardroom more personality, can be used for zoning if you have a large space and improve the air quality at no extra cost!