people collaborating in a meeting room

Brainstorm Room: Can It Improve Your Business? (2021)

Jane Young, Posted December 11, 2020

Today you’re going to learn precisely what a Brainstorming Room is and how it can improve your business.

The Design

Brainstorm rooms are often designed to have a casual atmosphere, with the intention of making employees comfortable and sparking idea flow.

Turnstone, a company that makes simple furnishings for the workplace, put together a list of recommendations on design. When it comes to furniture they write, “It’s important to create furniture arrangements that encourage collaboration. The space should offer comfortable seating and a variety of postures…” The site goes on to list these four design tips…

  • Lounge seating signals the space is open and relaxed, making employees feel comfortable and encouraging informal conversations.
  • Include ottomans or stools, like turnstone’s Buoy for an active sitting option.
  • Provide standing height tables with stools to encourage employees to switch postures, keeping them engaged.
  • Tables with casters allow the team to easily rearrange the room as they see fit for the task at hand.

The room should be designed to meet your organization’s specific needs. That being said, Hygger says a great “war room” should have lots of surface area, space for dedicated projects, as many whiteboards as you can provide and flexible furniture.

Why it works

These rooms are a great place for members of a team to meet and get on the same page. The space can be used for groups of any size and are meant to facilitate idea flow.

This Medium article on the importance of having a  war room says, “One of the simplest tricks I’ve learned is that a dedicated work space with walls — a war room — always helps us do better work. The walls of a war room can extend a team’s memory, provide a canvas for shared note-taking, and act as long-term storage for works in progress.”

The article goes on to share why these type of rooms are so effective. “War rooms help your team work better together. When you capture every decision and put it on the wall, you don’t have to wonder if everyone is on the same page. The room is the page. The more you put on the walls, the more shared understanding you build.”

Benefits Of Space

Commercial interior design and project management company Contour lists 3 benefits of what they call “break out spaces,” including productivity, creativity and well-being. On brainstorming in these spaces, the company writes, “Creative ideas flow in a more relaxed environment. A dedicated space for idea collaboration will benefit employee morale and productivity.”

An article by the company Hygger entitled, “Agile Best Practices: Why Your Team Needs a War Room”  lists the following 5 benefits of providing your workers with this type of space.

1. Direct verbal communication between team members that saves time on phone conversations and emails

2. Increased team commitment and feeling of togetherness

3. Increased responsibility

4. Single source of information for leaders, team members, contributors, and other project stakeholders

5. Increased awareness of performance and other project metrics due to high-level data analysis and visualization

All Part of Activity Based Working (ABW)

These rooms fit into an activity based working style.

WeWork describes ABW as, “a work style that allows employees to choose from a variety of settings according to the nature of what they are doing, combined with a workplace experience that empowers them to use those spaces throughout the day.”

The philosophy behind this type of work environment is that workers are more productive if “they have the right spaces for the tasks they need to accomplish.”

New research conducted by Veldhoen + Company found that companies who transition to Activity Based Working experience a roughly 17% increase in overall workplace satisfaction. That study also found the following:

  • 13% increase in individual productivity
  • 8% growth in team productivity
  • 11% gains in organization culture
  • 4% boost in sense of community in the workplace

To learn more about ABW and agile working check out our webinar.

Brainstorming Remotely

Is your company currently remote? Or partially remote? Brainstorming can definitely happen virtually as well.

The Harvard Business Review just recently published an article on ways to brainstorm remotely. The article lays out an organized approach to tackling remote strategizing. To get started the article says this, “…start your brainstorming process by having each person generate potential solutions on their own, or perhaps have them work in small groups to think about possibilities. What you want to avoid is having the entire group start throwing out ideas at one another—which isn’t ideal in a remote environment anyway.” The article then goes on to say, “After that initial stage, collect the solutions that have been generated and send them around to the group to build on them. Create a shared document with the preliminary ideas that everyone can edit and invite people to further develop the initial proposals.”

Increasing Idea Flow

Looking for more ways to increase the flow of ideas. Forbes has a list of 15 ways to help facilitate better brainstorming. That list includes, managers sharing their ideas last, focusing on only one thing at a time, breaking into small groups, and withholding any judgement.

Researchers at Northern Illinois University did a study in 2018 that uncovered some hidden benefits of brainstorming including promoting teamwork. The researchers saying, ““Brainstorming can be used to help a team buy into and implement a plan of action,” Henningsen said. “Or it can be used to simply build cohesiveness, which in turn can lessen employee turnover and increase employee commitment.”

Smartway2 is a workplace scheduling system that helps enable peak performance from employees. Using it is easy and can help to pave the way towards a “culture of innovation.”

Click here to sign up for a demo.

Jane Young
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Jane Young