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4 design changes for your meeting room to inspire collaboration

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Collaboration in meetings leads to better ideas and smarter decision making across your organisation. But collaboration is not always easy, especially if people don’t feel like their voices are being heard.

With a well-designed meeting room, you can transform your space into one that makes collaboration a priority. These changes and updates can help spark more interaction and idea sharing in every single meeting.

1. Establish a cell phone-free zone

According to some accounts, we check our phones an average of 28 times per day. This unconscious habit can bleed into meetings, plummeting productivity and collaboration as well as making those speaking feel as though their ideas aren't valid or worth listening to. 

Stop this distraction before it starts. Ask that everyone place their phone in a tray or basket by the door when they enter. By removing the temptation to check phones, all meeting participants will be more likely to stay focused and actively engaged in the conversation.

2. Get people talking and writing

How you furnish and even stock your meeting room with supplies can help people feel more comfortable sharing their ideas. Analogue writing materials encourage people to turn away from their computer screens and actively participate with the group.

From whiteboards on the walls to stacks of various-sized Post-its® at the centre of the table, the more writing surfaces, the better. People can sketch or jot down ideas quickly. And don’t forget the writing utensils! Think Dry Erase markers, colourful pens, pencils and permanent markers. These should be within easy reach so meeting participants can start writing the moment inspiration hits.

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3. Embrace the round table

Consider how a rectangular table can illuminate power dynamics. People naturally take sides. Members of one team gravitate towards sitting together on one side, automatically creating an “us” versus “them” dynamic. The most senior person will likely sit towards the head. People seated at one side might veer into side conversations, which boxes out those seated at the other end.

For true collaboration to happen, everyone needs to feel equal and visible. Research shows that sitting at a round table creates a better sense of belonging and leads to less antagonism. With a circular seating arrangement, everyone can see each other. Side-conversations are more difficult. There are no sides, encouraging intermingling between teams. From the moment people take their seats, the meeting will already be off to a more collaborative start.

Explore Staples solutions for office furniture to find the perfect meeting room set up for your business. 

4. Incorporate pops of colour

A monotone meeting space can feel uninspiring. The colour of decor and furniture can have an impact on people’s moods. Consider incorporating bits of colour into your meeting room, be it through furniture, wall art or accessories. Colour will not only liven up the space, but also could lead to better meeting outcomes. A University of British Columbia study found the effects of certain colours on people’s productivity. Blue helps people increase their creativity, while red help enhances their attention to detail.

Ready to give boost collaboration across your office? Start with shared spaces like meeting rooms, and you’ll soon begin to see the positive effects of people working more cohesively together. 

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