Meetings are generally viewed as boring, time-wasting affairs. They can be breeding grounds for contentious dynamics as co-workers fight to stand out from the crowd. While meetings can be helpful for collaboration, excessive, back-to-back sessions can leave people feeling micro-managed. This slows productivity to a halt and may stunt the growth of high-performers who, if given more white space, would otherwise thrive.
1. Ditch the Table
Meetings are traditionally held in uninspired, neutral-toned rooms with a large table and chairs in the middle. Square and rectangular tables subconsciously reinforce workplace hierarchy. When your aim is collaboration, putting everyone on equal footing is important. If collaboration is your goal, include a circular place in your meeting space.
Better yet, ditch the table completely. Arrange chairs in a circle, facing inward. Removing the table encourages open communication between colleagues and lightens up the formal atmosphere. If you need to distribute handouts or refer to charts during the meeting, consider alternative ways of displaying them: hang them on the walls around the room to encourage movement and spontaneous dialogue, for example.
2. Change Your Venue
Speaking of that uninspired, bland meeting room: why not ditch it altogether? Getting out of the office does wonders for everyone. Holding meetings at unconventional locations can foster excitement about a quick trip out of the office. Our ability to focus is directly linked to the novelty of the experience. Changing your meeting routine will promote focus and engagement among your co-workers. Consider other alternative locations as well, like coffee shops, downtown stress or a park.
3. Create Chill Vibes
Encourage your colleagues to de-stress by providing small, unobtrusive toys like stress balls and fidget spinners. Recent research into “fidget widgets” suggests that those who utilize them are better able to focus on their primary task. People who decompress, even for just a few minutes, with something creative and completely unrelated to their jobs are more productive in the long run. The theory is that as we become used to our environments we grow complacent and any stimuli introduced to that environment jolts us out of complacency to refocus our minds.