Teamwork & Collaboration

Think-Tank Rooms Primed for Innovating

The future of the workplace is evolving into a playground of possibilities. Collaboration of multiple parties was not the norm 20 years ago. The sole purpose in the business world was to get yourself ahead, not bring others along with you.

The trend has shifted with the new century from an individual to a team approach. In order to successfully collaborate, we need to create or be given the “tools” to succeed — and the environment to play in.

Think Tanks, which are collaboration rooms with an intimate relationship between design and technology, may be just that environment we’re increasingly seeing in today’s workplaces.

The purpose of these rooms is to exercise your brain in a stress-free environment.

After all, a mind performs better when your body and brain can release tension, right? And a collaborative work environment can certainly enhance creative thinking and allow for quick idea generation.

Here are a few characteristics of Think Tanks:

  • The best physical environments to allow for creativity are light and bright spaces, clutter free, with architectural and natural elements.
  • Lower ceilings improve performance in detail-orientated tasks, while higher ceilings encourage abstract creative thought.
  • In the right think-tank environment, punches of humor can spark the brain and bring out your creativity.
  • Thought-enhancing elements such as specific colors, lighting, games, and surfaces are all extremely important to a successful collaborative space.

As a senior in Auburn University’s Interior Design program, I collaborate with the Hotel at Auburn University and Conference Center. Each year, the hotel gives the senior hospitality studio a real project that will be implemented in the hotel.

One of the projects we are currently working on is a Think Tank for guests, Auburn professors, students, and the community to use to spark ideas, solve problems, and enhance collaborative creativity.

To facilitate the best design, I wanted to give the client something that wasn’t indigenous to the Auburn area. My first thought was the ocean. Auburn is located approximately 250 miles north of the Atlantic. I embraced this idea and coined my theme as a Think-Sub(marine).

Regardless of the direction or theme pursued, designing for these spaces typically requires the following elements:

Fun. Dartboards, puzzles, and board games are often found in these creative spaces to ease tension and stress. Basketball hoops, bean-bags, and foosball tables add an element of childhood and fun to the space. The purpose of this would be to spark the imagination of a child.

Mobility. Furniture must be flexible, comfortable, safe, and secure. Anything wobbly will distract the user and anything permanent will prevent personalization.

Technology embedded in furniture is innovative and saves space in small collaborative rooms.

Visuals. Visually, it is important to incorporate nature and expand the space. Windows are the effortless way to accomplish both, however, if windows are not feasible, painted nature murals or projection screens can be utilized. New surroundings allow for various ideas. Flexible furniture, adjustable lighting, and diverse room dà ©cor can create this effect.

Surfaces. Horizontal and vertical writing surfaces are mandatory in these areas. Ample writing space allows users to build on ideas and return to a previous step in the brainstorming process.

Technology. iPads, iPod docks, laptops, smart boards, video walls, and touch screens establish the tech logistics of these rooms. Having the most efficient,   latest-and-greatest instruments assists in the creative process.

Lighting. The most advantageous lighting for a Think Tank is natural sunlight and/or full spectrum fluorescents. This type of lighting will illuminate detail as well as color, enhance productivity, and decrease fatigue. Be certain to incorporate sufficient ambient and task lighting.

Ultimately, Think Tanks facilitate collaboration that can help people stay on track, experience fewer creative blocks, and fill in the missing pieces.   These creative spaces must facilitate communication among teammates, allow for personalization, and be adaptable to change.

And isn’t embracing change what good design is all about?

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