If you have a startup with a small office, dedicated conference rooms don’t cut it. You can try to make your space feel bigger than it actually is, but when it comes to getting work done, you need to make every square foot count. That means your conference room has to double as a war room. Rather than dedicating the room to general purpose meetings and overviews, the space should double as a creative brainstorming room for specific projects. Brainstorming in a “war room” can significantly improve your productivity and leave fewer things to memory. Here’s how you can make the switch.
Use whiteboards, and lots of them
Your current conference room probably has a whiteboard or two, but you’re going to need a lot more if you want it to operate as a war room.
One of the advantages of dedicated brainstorming rooms is that you can leave your information up permanently. Dedicate one whole board to a specific part of a project, and keep the information visible even when you’re not specifically working on it. This way, you’ll have easy access to topics you went over in previous meetings without having to dig through files (physically or digitally).
Of course, you’ll still need an erasable board for short-term meeting notes. If you’re limited on space, try using a portable whiteboard for meetings, and dedicate the large wall-mounted ones for long-term projects.
Maximize surface area
The biggest benefit of brainstorming in a war room is the ability to physically lay out information. While it’s a bit more cumbersome to move sticky notes and whiteboards around than to copy and paste in a digital file, physical data is far easier to skim and remember spatially.
Therefore, you don’t have to limit your surface area to whiteboards. Any surface that you can lay information on would work, including windows, walls and desks. Try placing relevant materials like design printouts, charts and sketches in different parts of the room. The more spread out your information is, the easier it’ll be to remember where everything is.
Make your furniture flexible
Ideally, your teammates and your furniture will be as flexible as your notes. If you’re using all of your wall space for notes, you’re going to have to walk around to access everything. War rooms are not a static environment. Wheeled chairs are a must, needless to say. On top of that, it helps to have wheeled (better yet, foldable) desks for easy rearrangement of the room.
If it’s not possible to make the furniture flexible by design, make sure each item is light enough to move. Heavy pieces of furniture are only going to get in your way, even if they look nice. Save it for a room that has a more static layout.
Given the current state of communications technology, much of what made conference rooms necessary is all but gone. Group chats and video calls make remote work a snap, and casual meetings can be conducted digitally as easily as they could be in person.
If space is limited, make the most of your conference room and double up on its functionality. With this war room layout, you’ll enjoy concrete benefits that can’t be replicated digitally.