I just received my Google Calendar reminder from the boss that our 10:00 am meeting is starting soon. I send a Skype message to my coworkers to see if they are ready to begin and from different corners of the office they emerge and we make our way to our Hi-Tech Conference Room.
All the chairs are pushed in, the markers and pens are in the cup, the 55″ LCD T.V. linked to the Mac Pro is up and running and we’re ready to dive in head first. I flip on the lights and open the blinds so the bright blue paint glows in the sunlight, inviting us to settle in to a comfortable, creative and productive environment.
Today we’re meeting with our partner, Jos, in the Netherlands to get an update on European operations. We call him on Skype and in seconds a man on the other side of the world appears on the screen. He sounds and looks as clear as if he were just next door. Real time conversations across several time zones are amazing! In the past this communication would have required a host of specialized servers and phones and would have cost us an arm and a leg for a five minute call. But with a $20 webcam, a free subscription to Skype and a pretty sweet television hooked up to our Mac Pro we are cutting down geographical boundaries that would have seemed impossible a generation ago. Everything is instantaneous and within 30 minutes we have shared our ideas and constructed our plan. Jos signs off and retires for the evening while the team here in Minneapolis is ready to tackle a new day and put their plans into action!
We keep everything neat and clean in our conference room so that when the idea of a lifetime (or just that moment) hits, everything is ready to document the brilliance. Time wasted on cleaning up from the previous meeting, powering on and reorganizing, can be the demise of the next great idea. By the time the tools are out of the box the idea has fled and your left scratching your head. We keep the channel on the T.V. set to the internet so when we move the Bluetooth mouse or hit the space bar on the wireless keyboard everything fires up right where we need it. This way, when an idea hits while conversing at a coworkers desk or just walking down the hall, we can rush to the conference room and hash it out while the thought is still fresh. Changing the channel, replacing batteries or searching for a writing utensil only distracts from the original purpose of entering the room.
Whenever we are finished we make sure everything is back in it’s proper place and ready to go without a moments notice. New ideas are born and maturing constantly here so we always have our tools clean and immediately available.
These are the tools we employ that have worked well for us. Give them a try and see how much more productive, efficient and enjoyable your meetings can be!
- Bright light, natural if possible, and some nice paint. Make the room comfortable, somewhere you enjoy being because it feels good. Pick a color of paint that invites creativity and is easy on the eyes. We went with a light blue to match our company’s colors and because it nurtures creative thinking.
- A roundish table that seats 8-10 people. Comfortable chairs are crucial as not every meeting takes 30 minutes and you don’t want your team squirming around because their backs and bums are getting sore.
- A reliable telephone in the middle of the table so you do not miss that important call and so you can quickly and easily reach out to clients and customers as your ideas are developed.
- Wireless keyboard and mouse. Pass the controls around the room so when someone needs to show what they’ve been doing you don’t have to play musical chairs.
- Get a sweet T.V.! We went with a 55″ Samsung LCD. We keep the aspect ratio at 1280 so that everyone can clearly read any text.
- Connect that sweet T.V. to your computer. We use a Mac Pro and find it incredibly fast and reliable.
- Dry erase boards are timeless. We have two 4′x8′ white boards for quick notes, schematics, minutes and whatever other gibberish the boss is ranting about. A cylindrical mesh pen holder keeps our markers and pens from rolling on the floor, losing the caps and drying out.
Our high performance conference room is just one of the team building environments we’ve developed at our headquarters. We look forward to sharing more of our office spaces that we are so fond of.
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