Trim team noise — 1. Organize meeting rooms

While a lot of time can be saved the way we run meetings, organizing meeting rooms is a good start.

One of my team members asked me, “Why do I pay so much attention to small details in the meeting room?”

I told him that it is equal to having one additional hire in the team.

He smiled and asked, “How?”

I asked him to choose any meeting room in the building. We both walked to one of the meeting rooms that he pointed. I showed him a clean board, and the set of items always kept ready, as shown in the picture below. I asked him to pick any marker and write. It wrote well.

I started explaining to him that when I joined the company one year back and attended meetings every day, I observed the below:

  • Boards were not clean, and dusters were missing.
  • Many of the board markers were not writing.
  • Post-it, notepads, pens, pencils, and other note-taking utils were missing.
  • HDMI cables were either missing or not working.
  • Remote team members were struggling to hear and see us.
  • Members are not aware of the meeting end time.
Math: 
(sum of time taken in hours to fix the above list * sum of total number of people in each meeting * total number of meetings per day * number of working days per year) * additional stress and distraction coefficient = the total number of unproductive hours per year.

I could convince him that the above number of unproductive hours can be equal to a good hire.

Our continuously improving practices:

  • We have a contract with a company for maintenance. I created an excel checklist which has a list of refill and cleaning items. It will be signed every day by our maintenance staff. Any new observation get appended to the sheet.
  • Remote team members and people working from home were struggling to hear and see us. We now have standup pods as shown in the image below. It has a wide-angle webcam for better viewing and a handy bluetooth speaker and mic. Only the person with the mic can talk, which improved one conversation at a time.
Standup Pod
  • I use a timer on my phone for most of the meetings that I attend. Sometimes after the first 30 minutes, I ask the group if we can extend it for another 10 minutes. To simulate the same, we are planning to keep big timers in each meeting room, which beeps after 30 minutes. Another idea is to restrict booking of the meeting rooms to 30 minutes only.
  • After a meeting, we made a practice of switching off the lights. Apart from the energy savings, it is visually simple to see a free meeting room and pick one.
While a lot of time can be saved the way we run meetings, the design and organization of meeting rooms is a good start.

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