When we think of boardrooms, we think of meetings, and when we think of meetings, the word ‘boring’ comes to mind.
But who said boardrooms should be the coldest, darkest and most boring parts of an office?
This is where award-winning ideas come to life, deals are closed, talent is acquired and mergers are made.
Simply put, the activities of a boardroom breathe life into a business.
Why not then spice yours up to create an ambience that encourages investors to offer that support you so much need or inspire employees to generate the best ideas?
Lucas Mungai, an Interior Designer specialising in commercial spaces, says that a boardroom speaks a lot about a business.
An investor would draw significant conclusions just by glancing at your boardroom. Mungai offers these ideas on how to maximise the functionality and aesthetics of a boardroom:
The most basic considerations when setting up a boardroom should be ventilation and light, noting that it is easy to confuse darkness with privacy.
Subsequently, most business owners choose the darkest corner of an office space for the boardroom.
On the contrary, boardrooms need natural lighting and plenty of natural air as these two elements boost moods.
Besides, you don’t want potential business partners fainting due to lack of air in the meeting room.
It is also important to consider the traffic flow in an office. If an organisation often hosts guests and clients in the boardroom, the meeting room should be easily accessible without having to pass through a battalion of glaring eyes, especially in an open-floor office.
Guests should also be accorded privacy and a quiet environment. To maximise on privacy, keep the boardroom away from where most of the employees sit.
Adding a carpet may also help contain sound while augmenting the aesthetics. A carpet has acoustic qualities that contain sound within a space.
Space is also a significant consideration. Think about the number of people who will use the boardroom, the furniture you will need and the amount of space required.
You’ll need enough space to allow movement in case someone has to walk in or leave during a meeting.
Also, in case you decide to expand or refurnish your boardroom, will you be able to move the old furniture out or will you need to demolish the door?
Once the basics are in place, it is time to spice up. There are no standard ideas when it comes to accessorising and even designing a boardroom.
It is about ensuring the stakeholders’ needs and preferences are catered for.
With this in mind, note down the kind of people who use the boardroom often and consider their personalities, as well as nature of their engagements in the boardroom.
For instance, if you are setting up a boardroom for creatives, Mungai suggests unprecedented creativity. Think outside the box to motivate them to generate limitless ideas.
A boring boardroom will not only discourage them from sharing their bold ideas, but it may also encourage them to seek employment in dynamic organisations, where they belong.
You are therefore allowed to defy common rules that dictate choice of colours, design and furnishings.
How about you go for an unfinished rustic table with visible patches of tree bark and rough edges?
If accessorising for stakeholders whose profession involves frequent conflict and high pressure, you need to find a way to relieve the pressure and reduce the conflict.
The most obvious tactic is to have a round table which pulls stakeholders in a meeting closer together, rather than a rectangular table which creates the illusion of opposing sides.
A circular table create a focal point as its occupants huddle together in discussion, rather than argument.
Mungai, however, says there are other creative ways to turn a war zone into a peaceful space. For instance, he has worked on a boardroom that housed a kitchenette as part of its design.
When a meeting gets heated up, people can simply decompress by preparing a beverage, a fruit or a snack.
Food is a natural stress reliever and will, therefore, ease the pressure resulting from a heated argument or a lecture on sales targets.
He also recommends installing hidden speakers in the ceiling, which can play soft instrumental music to calm people down just before a meeting commences.
Adding life in the form of plants or fish would also change the dynamics of engagement in a boardroom.
“People connect well to live objects that remind them that they’re human and are likely to make favourable decisions under such influence,” explains Mungai.
Elements of nature
You don’t require an entire aquarium, a small fish in a clear jar or bowl sitting in the middle of a table could be all you need to close your next deal.
Besides, elements of nature such as plants and fish tend to put people at ease. Such a zen-like environment will enable interviewees, for instance, to express themselves freely.
It will also relieve tension in a meeting. When choosing the colours, pay attention to their overall effects. Different colours will create different moods in a space.
Yellow, for instance, whether used in lighting, accessories or furniture, is considered a mood killer.
It is impossible for employees to generate ideas when surrounded by the colour yellow.
Blue, however, is not only safe, but is universally accepted as a cool colour. Use blue on accessories and furniture pieces if dealing with a relatively rigid demographic of stakeholders.
Other safe colours include green and neutral colours such as grey, brown and beige. Red is an alarming colour which could easily intimidate stakeholders.
You do not want to fire an employee while they are staring at a red wall in a meeting room. It is not encouraging at all.
Overall, consider the age group that uses the boardroom. In a recruitment boardroom or a co-working space that caters to lots of young people, bold colours are acceptable, but if your stakeholders are individuals in their 40s and above, you may want to tone down the colours to be on the safe side.
Finally, don’t forget to add an artistic statement piece, such as a painting or a sculpture.
Such pieces make your business unforgettable to anyone you interact with, whether a job seeker, a potential customer or an investor.
Choose a piece that summarises what your business stands for.
It could be simplistic and powerful, like a road or path that winds and disappears into the unknown, to signify progress, motion or a masterpiece that speaks sophistication.