How A Well Designed Meeting Room Can Foster Collaborative Learning – Guest Post by Reno Macri
This guest blog about collaborative learning comes from Reno Macri, founder and director of Enigma Visual Solutions. To submit your own guest blog, first read the guidelines here.
When planning an office design project, it is surprisingly common for businesses to neglect the design of their meeting rooms. After all, in a typical office building, meeting rooms are not in constant use and many facility managers take the approach that the room simply needs to be big enough to fit people in.
However, meeting rooms actually have an important function, which we sometimes overlook. Meeting rooms allow for collaborative learning. Indeed, we rarely retain information unless we socialise it in some way. And, meeting rooms provide the ideal location to socialise. So how can a well designed meeting room foster collaborative learning?
Use of Collaborative Technology
In order to get the best collaborative learning results, it is important to include the right technology in your meeting room and in particular, visual aids are important. Depending on the nature of your work environment, the size of the room and your budget, these aids may vary from projection equipment to computers with large wall monitors.
“If a space has easy projection and teleconferencing capabilities, it gets nearly constant use, [while] spaces that are low on technology capabilities are used far less,” Steelcase explain in a white paper. “In an ideal collaborative work environment, there’s easy access to data and power throughout.”
Of course, in addition to technology like screens and computers, there remains a place for more traditional learning tools, like whiteboards. Again, the key is to ensure that all parts of the room have equal access, so everyone can both see and contribute information to the boards.
Aesthetic Appeal Without Clutter
In terms of the design itself, it is important for a meeting room to look pleasant and interesting. However, I recommend you avoid clutter and distracting design elements. Too many distractions can prove counter-productive when you’re trying to achieve quality collaborative learning.
Simple and clean designs tend to work best in this sort of environment. You can work with a commercial interior design company to achieve a clean design. Generally speaking, you should avoid too many large decorative items, like artworks, plants, and ornaments. That way you naturally draw attention to learning areas.
Many companies opt for a crisp white colour for meeting rooms, because it is non-distracting. However, for those who want to add colour, a 2007 study from the University of Texas suggests calm, restful blues and greens are able to improve efficiency and focus, while yellow can help to stimulate creativity.
The Importance of Visual Contact
The right level of visual contact is crucial. Visual contact is essential to create effective work environments for staff to learn, develop, and share ideas. Remember, a workspace that is too big will eliminate any feeling of intimacy and familiarity. A room that is too small will feel uncomfortable.
If your meeting room has a table setup, try to avoid an elongated table, to it’s easy for any two people to chat. Your design should facilitate as much eye contact as possible. It should also make conversation easy between any two people in the room.
In many cases, circular table layouts work best, with the chairs positioned around the table. The primary benefit of this layout is that it allows people to see each other easily. This helps staff retain their attention span for longer.
Reno is a founder and director of a leading exhibition and event company Enigma Visual Solutions, specialising in retail designs, graphic productions, signage systems, office refurbishment, event branding, office interior design services and much more. He specialises in experiential marketing and event productions. Follow Reno on Twitter.