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25 great ideas for making your team instantly more productive

19th Feb 15 6:24 am

Say goodbye to dreary meetings and the afternoon slump

Turbo-charge meetings

Notting Hill Carnival

Olga Nuryaeva, www.lenstore.co.uk: “At Lenstore we use ‘scrum’ meetings; short meetings where everyone stands up. It keeps meetings short and to the point. Sitting down is comfortable, so people feel less energised and can lose concentration easily.”

Barnaby Lashbrooke, founder of virtual workforce platform, Time etc: “Ban meetings. Talking about what you’re going to do is never as useful as actually doing it. If you do have meetings, make sure they aren’t scheduled for the sake of it.”

MeetingZone: “Holding a virtual meeting will save SMEs time and is far less disruptive. With so many good tools like Microsoft Lync, there are plenty of options available now.”

Oliver Black, director and founder, My Family Care: “Is the meeting short enough that can be done standing up? Allocate a time limit for the meeting and the conclusions you are going to reach. Be ruthless about these.”


Boost innovation

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder, FreeAgent: “We hold Hack Days, where everyone downs their tools on non-critical activity and gets stuck into brainstorming ideas and turning them into reality, working with those they wouldn’t normally work alongside and taking a crazy idea from start to finish. It’s fun, helps to foster good relationships across the company, fuels creativity and makes everyone feel they have an important part to play.”


Clearer communication & collaboration

Spelling words

Per Wising, director of research and development, Projectplace: “Coordinate projects using Kanban boards. Visually presenting key milestones will help make information much easier to process. Kanban boards, initially adopted by Toyota 60 years ago, provide a clear overview of a project’s workflow and indicate what each person or team is working on, allowing them to prioritise and encouraging collaboration.”

Adrian Lomas, founder & CEO, Blueleaf: “Your team really want to do a good job so they really need to know where the business is heading. Share details often. Here at Blueleaf we send a weekly communication to the whole team, and have a team meeting with the whole team every Monday to prepare for the week ahead.”

Stephen Duignan, VP of international marketing, LogMeIn: “According to leadership effectiveness expert Jaclyn Kostner, workforce teams that collaborate the most often are 36% more productive than teams with less collaboration (video). Encouraging regular or impromptu ‘meeting of the minds’ within your sales teams can lead to new innovation, creativity, and solutions to problems you may not have even known about.”

Per Wising, director of research and development, Projectplace: “Adopt the concept of “social business, where companies identify how employees and stakeholders wish to communicate and create a platform that enables a fluid sharing of information and inspires a collaborative working environment. Social business encourages people to be more engaged with the project.”


Improve energy levels

People bouncing on big balls

Gemma McNeilis, head of brand, Chiswick Park: “The Enjoy Work team at Chiswick Park supercharge the lunch hour to spread happiness throughout their 8,000-strong business campus.  While lunchtime high jinks such as 9m platform jumping, zorb football or urban gardening classes might seem distracting, 95% of the workers report enhanced productivity. Not to mention elevated afternoon energy levels, the buzz from learning a new skill and a sense of belonging to a thriving business community.”

Magdalena Bak-Maier, author of Get Productive and founder of www.MakeTimeCount.com:“Comfort-eating less nutritious snacks makes the brain sleepy and slow.  Consider investing a small amount of budget in having nutritious lunch or breakfast delivered to your office.”

Adrian Lomas, founder & CEO, Blueleaf: “Provide ways to have five mins of exercise.  A bouncy ball to sit on, a rebounder to bounce on while waiting for the printer.  Table tennis in a meeting room, or a scooter if your office is bigger.  They will be more productive after as their energy levels go up.”

Oliver Black, director and founder, My Family Care: “We now have fresh fruit available for the 70 people in our head office and don’t have that post-lunch slump any more.”

Magdalena Bak-Maier, author of Get Productive and founder of www.MakeTimeCount.com: “Mind the office temperature. Both too hot and too cold distract and demotivate. Have a flexible workstation next to a window where people can cool down if the office heats up, and have heaters available.”


Get things done… faster

Motorbike racing - fast growth

Simon Birkenhead, CEO, Axonix: Empower people to make quick decisions.Moving fast, even if you make the occasional mistake, is so much better than endless deliberation and escalation (which will minimise risk but mean you don’t actually get anything done).”

John Styring, CEO, IglooBooks:“Employ someone better than you in each area of your business. That way you maximise your time with the experts and don’t waste time getting up to speed.”

Barnaby Lashbrooke, founder of virtual workforce platform, Time etc: “Outsource as much as you can. Once you have a trusted and skilled team of freelancers to take on all those jobs you shouldn’t be doing – such as chasing late payments, tidying up databases or booking travel – the more time you have to focus on business development.”

Jo Harley, managing director, people engagement specialists Purple Cubed: “Sometimes people don’t delegate because they believe that they can do it better themselves. This means, however, they miss out on winning time back. To delegate effectively, the job must be properly explained – what needs to be done, why it needs to be done and timescales. Agree what a good outcome looks like and how reporting will work. Then leave well alone, except when asked for support, and get on with the more important jobs on your to-do list!”


Get flexible

Adrian Lomas, founder & CEO, Blueleaf: “If your team want to start work earlier and finish earlier, try it. What about working from home for a day a week? It increases performance, it increases trust, and it gives them a benefit they may not get at your compe

Tom Ball, founder, NearDesk :“Commuting every day sucks morale and wastes hours – but if you all work remotely, you miss out on spending time together as a team. Find a combination of remote time – where everyone has a great, productive space they enjoy working, which may include home. You also need together time – both formal “meeting room” days – and informal “hanging out” working in the same building days.”


Motivating the team & setting targets

London Pride 2014

Adrian Lomas, founder & CEO, Blueleaf: “Appraisals are dead. How can you feedback once a year to your team and expect to get the best from them? We at Blueleaf hold monthly GO sessions – goals and objectives – with each person, focusing on improving performance over the next month, linked to the company targets.”

Elin Twigge, Deputy Managing Director, PLMR: “Get all your team to do a Friday ‘Make or Break’ List, focusing minds on what absolutely has to be done before the weekend.  It filters out less pressing tasks and gives you the satisfaction of finishing the week with everything on your list ticked off … hopefully.”

Simon Birkenhead, Axonix CEO: Overcommunicate. Make sure everyone in the organisation knows what the strategic priorities of the business are, how the business is doing against these, and how their own work contributes to their success.”


Handy tech

John Coldicutt, CMO, KashFlow:“Many businesses are running old legacy systems which impact productivity, despite this being entirely avoidable. Take time to look new platforms such as cloud, which makes state-of-the-art technology available to all sizes of businesses. There’s no need for IT infrastructure other than the laptop, tablet, desktop or phone you consume it through. And what’s even better is that you pay for it as you go, cutting out those hugely expensive up-front costs.”

Simon Birkenhead, Axonix CEO: Buy Apple. They’re expensive but think about the cost of people’s wasted time when their Windows laptop crashes for the fifth time or is taken out by a virus.”



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