Extraordinary Team Blog

Effective Teams Require a Creative, Comfortable Environment

Posted by Kristin Arnold on October 10, 2009

I used to think teams could do great work anywhere.  Unfortunately, it just isn’t so.  I am continually amazed by how much a team is influenced by its surroundings.  Teams are able to form quicker and perform more effectively when they are in an environment conducive to team work.

Think about the meeting spaces where you have been the most productive, creative, and comfortable.   Look at the little things that send the subliminal message to each team member that their contribution is important and valued.  You just can’t lock a team up in a windowless room wallpapered with cinder blocks and expect miracles to occur!  To create a “team room,” consider:

Colors.  Select colors based on the overall feeling you are trying to create.  Try blues, purples or yellows for a “vibrant, creative” environment.  Some team rooms have variable colored lighting that can project a different shade on the walls, depending on the mood you are trying to create.

Flexible Tables.  Teams don’t need long, traditional boardroom tables.  Choose small, modular tables that allow teams to come together as one large team or pull apart to enable smaller groups to meet.

Great Chairs.  Don’t get the stackable kind.  Get comfortable chairs with lots of seat padding, adjustable height, and can tilt.  But don’t make them too comfy.  You want your team to work, not fall asleep.

Lighting.  Working surfaces such as walls and tables should be well lit.  Fluorescent lighting can be a strain on the eyes, so look for a combination of fluorescent (I prefer indirect fluorescent) and incandescent.  If you can, put them on “banks” of lights so you can dim the front, the back and provide spot lighting even during multimedia presentations.  Dimming features allow even more flexibility.  Don’t forget natural light through windows or skylights — just make sure you have a good “blackout shades!”

Smooth Walls.  Have lots and lots of wall space to hang flip charts, run large swaths of poster paper, and just otherwise be creative.  If you must hang pictures, don’t bolt them into the wall (I’ve always wondered — who would want to steal a piece of hotel art?).

Sound.  Install sound absorbent ceiling, wall, and floor materials to reduce noise and eavesdropping.

Technology.  Integrate the technology into the meeting room.  Keep in mind that technology is an enabler for interaction — not the primary reason to meet.

Accessible Outlets.  Team members want to plug in, dial up, and log in.  You need electrical outlets, phone connections, and high-speed internet access in the walls and, depending on the size of the room, in the floor.

Screens.  Retractable screens for overheads and multimedia presentations are preferred, since you can put them away at the flip of a switch.

Clock.  Most people want to know what time it is.  Put your clock in the back of the room where everyone can see it.

Aroma:  Aromatherapy has hit it big in many corporate meeting rooms.  Try a combination of essential oils such as geranium, lemon, jasmine, and lavender to stimulate creativity, concentration, and relieve stress.

I am convinced that the small creature comforts enable teams to work more effectively together.  As you design your team room, create a welcoming and supportive environment for teams to do great work.

Question:  What are your ideas for creating a the best environment for your team?

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