The ‘formal’ atmosphere is the workplaces of many organisations is fast disappearing paving the way for a more casual, yet “I mean business” look. At the same time, organisations have become much more prudent with their fit-out spends. When I design workplaces for modern multinationals, I am often challenged on these counts.
This picture of a recent project attempts to show how a conference room enables multi-tasking in a multi-seating format. If you want to have a formal meeting, you can use the table. If you want to ‘discuss things over a coffee’ the sofa-setting is a good option.
Of course this takes more space than a smaller room, and two sets of meetings are difficult. But the point is that such places are used only once in a while and with smart electrical and HVAC design, much can be saved by switching off lights and air-conditioning when not required.
Flooding workplaces with natural light has two primary benefits:
1. Power costs savings: Tremendous savings in the monthly power bill is seen, especially in regions and during seasons which sees a lot of sunlight.
2. Staff feels better: This is not often spoken about, but scientifically it has been shown that the body and mind works better if it is in sync with the time of the day.
Different strategies can be adopted to get natural light inside the workplace, a few popular ones being:
a) Large windows with retractable blinds/curtains: Blinds and curtains should be adjustable to allow the right amount of light in.
b) Light reflectors: Reflectors in sequence, often placed near the ceiling, can help get natural light in to zones far from the building perimeter.
c) Lighter colours: Using lighter colours inside the workplace, allows light to bounce off easily and spread across a larger area.
We have seen boardrooms of all sizes, shapes, colours and design. Some are traditional with heavy woodwork and some are contemporary with light furniture, and many in-between. The boardroom reflects the essence of the organisation and thus designs vary from organisation to organisation. However, when it comes to finishes, a few basic pointers can be helpful.
1. Go soft: Boardrooms play host to both confidential as well as heated professional arguments. Sound-proofing a boardroom is a must-do; the use of sound absorbing, soft materials is a good idea. For example, one can use fabric panelling on the walls, and carpeting on the floor. An excess of glossy surfaces may play havoc with the acoustics.
2. Black out blinds: Presentations over an audio visual system are common in boardrooms. It is a good idea to have blinds or curtains which have th
e ability to block out the light for the sake of good quality visuals.
3. Comfortable chairs: This is where the board will meet; so invest in some good chairs. Whilst the colour and finish need to be in sync with the rest of the finishes, soft chairs are recommended to bring in comfort in an otherwise serious atmosphere.