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More than just a regular Cafeteria!

When it comes to multi-purpose rooms in larger enterprises, none is more popular than the Cafeteria that transforms into a Town Hall or a Live Event space

Businesses today are spread farther and wider apart than ever before – with many large organisations having hundreds or thousands of employees spread across multiple offices and geographies. While this widens the business reach and its ability to cater to local customer requirements, it also creates distances between collaborating teams and co-workers. With CEOs and CXOs of growing organisations struggling to have frequent face-to-face communication with their employees, Town Halls are proving to be an effective help in enabling pan-organisation interactions in real-time.

But finding room to create a large collaborative space for monthly Town Halls would be difficult for most organisations — given the high cost of commercial real estate. Hence, the cafeteria — which is the largest space in most offices — provides a great venue for use as a multi-purpose space that can host Town Halls and other live events. Most modern collaboration projects now feature a multi-purpose Cafeteria-cum-Town Hall, which is also used to host other events such as office parties and music concerts. This capability makes it a very versatile, multi-functional room that organisations can design to host a diverse range of events.

Cafeteria CUM Town Hall at Coca Cola (In cafeteria mode)
Cafeteria CUM Town Hall at Coca Cola (In cafeteria mode)

The Cafeteria

The corporate cafeteria is obviously a space where people come for meals and refreshments, but should also be designed as an informal collaboration space. It can feature quieter alcoves where people can participate in video/audio conference calls without disturbing others, or being disturbed. Entertainment or informational content should be available via a Digital Signage network, especially during key meal times. Intelligent lighting can lead to a reduction in the energy costs by making use of artificial lighting selectively and depending on the amount of natural lighting available.

Key design suggestion:

Digital signage using distributed displays with a media player for signage applications can be used to display rolling text, daily menus or company news. It can also play videos from a high-resolution IPTV/Set up Box (2K/4K).

Cafeteria CUM Town Hall (In Town Hall mode)
Cafeteria CUM Town Hall (In Town Hall mode)

The Town Hall

In the Town Hall mode, this multi-purpose room can have a podium or “stage” area from where senior executives can address the gathering. Flexible and mobile furniture reduces set up time and can be moved aside for standing or seated arrangements. Broadcast friendly lighting around the area of the podium will allow for excellent clarity in video broadcasts for participants in other locations. These broadcasts can be streamed or archived for later viewing by people unable to join.

Key design suggestion

The room should have a large display and secondary (smaller displays) to provide visibility where there are visual obstructions. Carefully select the placement of ample and appropriate input connectors near the screen. Auxiliary wall plates, both audio/video, should be available to connect external cameras by any third party user to shoot the event.

The Live Event space

But the Cafeteria-cum-Town Hall can be much more, and also transform into a venue for after-hours events and leisure activities organised by HR teams. Whether it’s a rock concert, quiz contest or a movie showing — this multifunctional space can more than fit the bill. With control for lighting and AV equipment tightly integrated, it makes these dynamic events simple to control and manage. It could also become the setting for more work-oriented events like investor conferences or media updates.

Key design suggestion

A control system can considerably simplify the challenges that come with conducting live events in makeshift venues like a cafeteria. It should be user-friendly and intuitive and allow the event managers to operate all the AV equipment from a single touch panel/user interface.

The multi-purpose Cafeteria-cum-Town Hall-cum-Event Space can be a very powerful tool for businesses that have embraced a truly collaborative way of working. But getting the design of this space right is the key to maximizing its utility to your business. Organisations that get this right can move closer to getting everyone onto the same page.

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