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The boardroom of the future

22 Feb 2017, Posted by Leah Barnard in Latest News

The idea of the boardroom is changing. The stagnant notion of a closed-off space with officials in suits sitting around a table is falling away. Instead, the concept of collaboration is taking over. It’s the buzz word of the future, and the key concept businesses should be thinking about when updating their boardrooms. Meeting are no longer defined by the boardroom table: instead, companies are opting for open and transparent spaces, and leaders want to be seen and be a part of their companies.

 

TRENDS

Moving forward, it’s not about the formal boardroom any more. The type of meeting and form of collaboration is defining the new boardroom space. Current trends see smaller meeting rooms and even lounge-like spaces, with meeting pods and informal collaborative areas, where meetings can happen quickly and effortlessly. These informal boardrooms are social hubs, inspiring creativity.

But what does this mean for the boardroom of the future? There has to be a fine balance when creating a space that can both function as a boardroom and a collaborative area. Key points to consider include the use of technology, how people communicate with one another, location, infrastructure and furniture.

How people work is changing continuously, and the advent of technology had created a form of flexibility that has eliminated the rigidity of the past. Organisations needs innovation, creative thinking and to move faster than before. The trend is to create beautiful spaces where people can thrive – workspaces that balance the firmly rational with the wildly imaginative.

The new entrepreneur works smarter and works anywhere. More and more, technology is becoming a defining characteristic of a space. Its molding how and where people work. Connectivity and the ease of technology are paramount. A basic need of the future boardroom is to be wireless. People want to be able to connect easily, to any person and in any other part of the world at any given time.

It’s important to remember that in this day and age, most people sitting in the hypothetical future boardroom won’t even have their own desk and chair. They will work from a space that suits them best and ultimately allows them to be more flexible and efficient.

Fun Fact, Know More has shown that 69% of people who are not happy with their work environment will not use their full ability and will come across as disengaged. Providing employees with an environment that allows them to choose how they collaborate, where they work, where they will sit and relax is paramount. Ultimately, an office design needs to be tailored to optimise an employee’s skill set and drive enthusiasm for their work.

 

SUSTAINABILITY IN BUSINESS

People are also concerned for the environment. Sustainability and how best to optimise a space to work for the environment, is constantly being addressed. When considering the ideas behind a boardroom, or a collaborative space, it’s important to remember that you may be meeting with people outside of your company’s area. Back in the day, it would have been the norm for both parties to travel to one common location. Now people want to travel less, which means video conferencing is playing a larger role in work communications. However it’s key to remember that head office will never disappear, as it’s a visual representation of a company’s brand and status. In some ways, so is the boardroom.

While boardrooms don’t have to confirm the way they did before, there still needs to be a balance between the new and traditional – the image of a boardroom and what it represents will never completely disappear. It’s also not to say that the traditional boardroom will fall away completely. If companies have the space and means, the traditional boardroom (one that is technologically equipped) will be incorporated into the office design.

Businesses are also very cognisant of having spaces that aren’t used often and many are creating smaller rooms that can join together to make a larger room.  Offices are also governed by so many different age groups, so it’s paramount to ask who is going to be sitting in the boardroom of tomorrow and what do they want to achieve from the space?

Primarily, people want to innovate and have strategy sessions, meaning boardrooms need to have that flexibility built into them. The larger technical aspect of a boardroom will see the installation of flat screen (for work to be projected on) and audio and visual equipment. The latest technologies allow anyone from anywhere to connect to projector and screen to showcase their presentation or their work.

Even then, it’s no longer just about creating a functional space, but also about creating a collaborative environment that works in conjunction with the digital environment. It’s also about understanding the lighting, airflow and acoustics of the space, and using that to enhance the technology.

The furniture in the workspace will more than likely make use of ‘green’ materials, which will maximise both the economic and environmental performance of the space. Products need to be in line with environmental regulations, and materials used (such as woods, paints, finished) need to be volatile organic compound free. The future boardroom will focus on interior solutions that are considered energy efficient and use recyclable products.

 

BIGGER ISN’T BEST

It ultimately comes down to this – bigger isn’t always better. Your typical boardroom used to be able to seat 30 people at a time, with one main table at the centre.

Calling for employees and clients to come together in one space, we are now no longer seeing a typical boardroom. Instead, spaces are smaller, more fluid, and the environment is enhanced by the technology used. Collaboration is happening with people all over the world, and this is being done is spaces that are both economically, ergonomically and eco-consciously optimised.

If the boardroom does not represent new thinking, it is unlikely that organisations will be able to compete successfully in today’s collaborative and tech-driven economy. Forward-thinking companies that take the time to embrace the power of open innovation, social collaboration, data analytics and emerging technologies stand to gain great strategic advantage over their competitors.

Advancements in technology are creating a new foundation to cover market trends, forecast and customer expectations. So is it possible that collaboration, rather than competition, has the power to accelerate growth and generate higher revenues?

It’s also about creating a space true to the company’s ethos. A personal touch is key to any meeting, and this is where designing or adapting a space according to the company’s brand will come in. This is no different for the future boardroom, which will be flexible but true to the brand.

A boardroom establishes a key image. If the company wants open, transparent spaces, a boardroom will be moulded to fit that image. Sure, they may have glass doors that can be closed when privacy is needed. In general, though, it seems the future boardroom may mean opting rather for smaller meeting pods that allow people to easily come together and inspire creativity.

Even though the timeline isn’t exact and trends are constantly changing, this new collaborative approach has already started rolling out. It’s the buzz word of the future and people are already buzzing around in the new spaces and collaborating in the future boardroom.