There’s a big project on the docket.
Trouble is, everyone works at home, or in satellite offices around the world. What’s a great way to get everyone together and go over the brief and start planning?
An at-the-ready web conferencing platform like OnConference Presents! lets you bring everyone together in one virtual “room.” Your telecommuters and team members in off-site locations can come together and participate in planning sessions and other critical meetings, avoiding the costs of paying everyone to travel to a central location.
They also get to return to their work stations right after the meeting, preventing further disruption in their work flow and productivity.
Get to work
Once you have everyone online and ready to go, it’s time to start brainstorming. You want to hear as many ideas as you can.
Ideas lead to innovation, and innovation leads to business success.
Here’s how to encourage everyone to offer input:
Boy, that sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is. Too often, we get lost in the presentation we want to make, delivering the points in the brief and neglecting to let our team members show us the way.
A question like “does anyone have thoughts on how to approach this?” might spur your group into offering a plan of attack.
2. Target your experts
You hired your staff for a reason: they know what they’re doing and they’re talented. Unleash them and their ideas by asking them specifically for their thoughts.
When you come to a point where someone has a particular specialty, single him out and give him the floor. He may not only have some thoughts, but you are also giving him a quiet praise for his efforts and ability.
3. Go back in time
Try bringing up similar projects your team has completed and allow them to critique the plan, the process and the results. You may find they come up with ways to improve and streamline this next project.
4. Use the poll feature
You may have a shy voice or two on your team. Those individuals are a little hesitant to add their voice but they have ways to share their input.
Last week, I did something different.
I packed up my laptop and left my apartment. I jumped in my trusty little SUV and made my way to the nearest coffee shop.
It was a change of pace from the dead silence of my house, which I sometimes break up with a Songza station or a Friends episode on Netflix.
People were chatting around me, smartphones were beeping, beans were grinding and milk was steaming.
I zipped through my writing in record time. Was it the ambient noises forcing me to focus more on my work? Was it the desire to get back to my Fortress of Solitude?
A 2012 study out of University of Chicago tested how ambient noises impacts creativity. The researchers played soundtracks at a variety of volumes and asked subjects to answer questions related to their creativity.
Ambient noise set to 70 decibels — the level most often found in coffee shops — led to 35 per cent improvement on creativity and productivity levels.
It isn’t just the noise levels that can promote creativity. The simple act of breaking out of your routine can spark the fire in your brain.
Wesley Verhoeve, the founder of Family Records and GNTLMN.com, writes about the intersection of life and technology at Fast Company.
“Even in the most awesome offices we can fall into a routine, and a routine is the enemy of creativity,” he says. “Changing your environment, even for just a day, brings new types of input and stimulation, which in turn stimulates creativity and inspiration.”
He also found less distractions at the coffee shop.
“Being surrounded by awesome team and officemates means being interruped for water cooler chats and work questions,” Verhoeve writes. “Being interrupted kills productivity. The coffee shop environment combines the benefit of anonymity with the dull buzz of exciting activity.”
Now, one must take care in making coffee-shop telecommuting a habit.
Always buy something, leave the conference calls and web conferences for when you’re at home, don’t stay too long, don’t hog space and be a friendly human being. After all, you never know who you might be sitting next to … a potential client or partner, perhaps?
It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the occasional surge of people seeking out their java fix. The University of Chicago researchers learned that very high noise levels can reduce information processing and creativity.
That must have been why I felt it necessary to hightail it out of there when the lunch crowd started to trickle in.