To Flex or Not To Flex? - The Boardroom (Part 5)
These days very few boardrooms function solely as a room for board meetings. It actually works very hard at a lot of different things: ad-hoc one-to-ones, quarterly company updates, casual staff gatherings, lunch times, breakouts, team workshops, training, not to mention the “focussed working” take-over. The boardroom can have many guises, so the crucial questions to ask are these:
- How flexible do I need this space to be? (Can you use the same range of furniture / same room layout for all the different uses?)
- How often will it change uses? (often enough to make it worthwhile investing in some big-ticket items?)
If your answers to these questions are “very” and “regularly” then you will need to think about the following:
Folding walls – These are a great investment if you can justify their use. As one of the big-cost items in any meeting area, you need to make sure it’s a must before paying out.
- Correct planning and design is crucial as they affect the placement of floor boxes, ceiling grids and ventilation, and will need their own special cubby hole or alcove to be stored in when not in use.
- Think about acoustics too; the nature of their design allows more sound to travel between spaces. Speak to a specialist & get the specification right.
- Don’t just consider the cost of the wall itself. By splitting one room into two (or more) you will need to multiply your provision of IT, AV or air con, thereby increasing your spend in those areas too.
Storage – To create a well—functioning flexible space you should consider what happens to all the “extras” when they are not in use. A boardroom layout will require much less furniture than a theatre or conference style layout, so where do all the chairs go? Factor in some nifty storage space and you won’t feel like you’re holding your next board meeting in a furniture store.
Power & Data – A well-considered power & data scheme will be a real asset in the future of this space. If you require a room that splits into two or more spaces, then you will need multiple power and data points so that each can function independently. How you achieve this will depend, to a degree, on your Cat A fit out. With a suspended flooring system, the addition of a few extra floor boxes into your grid will not be too much of a hassle. For those with a solid floor it can mean a messy process involving chasing out conduits in a concrete slab. Think hard, therefore, about whether this is really necessary or desired.
Mobility is vital when aiming for maximum flexibility in this area. Think about how you will move and store your furniture when it is not in use. Will your chairs & tables have wheels? Or will you need a special trolley to cart them around? Can you stack your chairs and fold or stow your tables? Ticking these boxes will allow more freedom & take up less space.
Tables – There are many flexible table designs on the market. Unfortunately flexibility can preclude a “high-end” look but for those requiring both don’t panic: there are options out there (see our Yorkshire Housing case study for one example).
Another factor you may want to consider is integrated power and data. Flexibility doesn’t always mean having a room that can be segmented, but simply one space that works and adapts to the flow of its occupants. Having integrated power and data will mean you can quickly change the dynamics of a meeting, swap presenters etc, without scrabbling on the floor to plug in your neighbours laptop. This requirement can, again, reduce your options but there are solutions out there – you may just have to look a little harder.
Chairs – For a flexible chair solution you have three functions to consider: stacking, mobile or folding. As with tables, an “executive” boardroom chair may mean you have to compromise on flexibility and vice versa. But there are options out there. For those of us who are willing to think outside the box, there are products which incorporate technology and a writing surface, so you could even do away with the table all together. See our presentation at the end for more ideas.
As with some of the fit out and furniture points above, carefully consider your AV and IT needs before getting entrenched in decisions about chair colours. Integrated power and data and adequate floor boxes will mean trailing wires are a thing of the past, and nobody needs to worry about being close to a power socket on the wall.
Lastly, a good operating system for your AV requirements will enhance the “Boardroom Experience” Our partners AV2000 recommend Extron’s touch screen control panels, which allow the user to operate all equipment in one room with only a few button pushes. If you are an Apple advocate then look no further, Extron have developed their software to run on apple devices too so that all equipment can be controlled easily from an iPad.
Headline image courtesy of we-make-money-not-art on Flickr