Hosting Meetings Without Wasting Everyone’s Time

That word makes many of us cringe.

Some of us can recount days of endless meetings that never seemed to solve any problems, but they excel at preventing us from doing actual work.

According to Atlassian, employees attend, on average, 31 hours of meetings per month, but half of that time is wasted. $37 billion is spent annually on salaries for people to sit in pointless meetings.

In that study, participants were asked how they’ve felt about meetings or how they behaved during them. Here are their responses.

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We use meetings to facilitate discussion and collaborate. They shouldn’t get in the way of work, but that happens in businesses all over the world, no matter their size.

Nevertheless, some meetings are necessary. We have to talk to our teammates and face-to-face communication is fastest.

It’s smart to look for reasons to cut out meetings. If there’s no clear purpose, don’t waste everyone’s time. If you have to hold a meeting, however, you should take steps to make them productive.

Download this guide to help plan a productive, hassle-free meeting.

Restrict the number of attendees

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It seems like adding more people to a meeting will accomplish more work and present better ideas. In actuality, large meetings present a significant handicap.

Parkinson’s Law of Triviality, coined by historian and author Cyril Northcote Parkinson, tells us that people in groups tend to give an unreasonable amount of weight to pointless decisions. The law is based on an event where a committee was convened to debate the designs of a nuclear power plant.

But the group did not consist of engineers, physicists, builders or energy specialists, so they spent all of their time discussing a triviality they could understand: the materials needed to build a bike shed.

Today this practice is called “bikeshedding.” It applies to instances where a group focuses on a trivial component of a larger issue, or when someone present is compelled to say anything to justify their attendance, even if it adds no value.

You can prevent bikeshedding by only inviting people to your meetings who can add value to the topic. Don’t invite people to meetings just so they are informed. If their thoughts and opinions aren’t necessary, catch them up with meeting notes or a recap email.

But let’s say you have a lot of people who can provide value. It makes sense to invite a lot of thoughtful minds to a meeting, right? Surely many heads are better than one.

Actually, no. A University of Minnesota study found that group dynamics affect our behavior. When given a problem, people overwhelmingly come up with more creative and efficient solutions when they work alone. When others are around, we’re willing to conform to the group, even when we know the group is wrong.

Psychologist Solomon Asch proved this with an eye-opening study where subjects were given an easy vision test. When paid actors gave false answers, the subjects repeated those answers in order to conform to the group.

Even if someone’s opinion is relevant, that doesn’t mean they should be at the meeting. Brainstorming sessions don’t actually generate good ideas, because the dynamic of the group plays too strong an influence. A particularly influential person will dominate the meeting, causing everyone else to defer to them so absolutely that a meeting wasn’t necessary in the first place.

The solution, therefore, is to reduce the meeting attendance list as much as possible. Amazon limits meetings to the number of people who can consume two pizzas. Google harshly restricts meetings to 10 people. However you do it, keep people who can’t add value to a meeting out of it.

Schedule meetings during unproductive work time

It would be great if our employees were 100% productive all day long, but that just isn’t the case. We all have periods of the day where we’re more focused. Smart employees adjust their work habits so they exploit their high productive hours as much as possible.

Behavioral science tells us that for most people, those productive hours are the first two hours of the day after a person becomes fully awake. At this time, our bodies and minds are rested and we haven’t taken on a significant cognitive load of the day’s events.

And yet, most meetings are scheduled for morning time slots, even though productivity isn’t necessary. We don’t need 100% focus to discuss last month’s figures or update the team. This time is better spent in deep work, pushing through challenges and being creative.

Leave mornings for uninterrupted work. Resist the urge to schedule early or mid-morning meetings during this period because it can take a person 25 minutes to refocus on their original work. Protect your team’s morning burst of productivity by scheduling meetings after lunch when your team begins to lose steam. The optimal meeting time is 3 P.M. on Tuesdays.

Try to schedule meetings back-to-back as much as possible. This is called time-blocking. It puts your mind in absorption mode and leaves other portions of your day available for production.

Cut your meeting durations down

If you schedule 30 minutes for a discussion, but the attendees reach consensus in 15 minutes, what do most meeting organizers do? Do they cut the meeting short and send everyone away?

Generally, no. They spend the remaining 15 minutes seeming to work.

When you define a period of time for work, work has a convenient way of filling that slot, even though quality isn’t likely to improve. This is another law coined by Parkinson, succinctly called Parkinson’s Law.

Our attention is limited anyway. Our attention spans last 15 minutes at the most and then our minds move on to other things that we deem more important. This effect becomes more dramatic if the attendees feel the meeting’s purpose has been fulfilled.

As economist and author John Kenneth Galbraith once said, “Meetings are a great trap… They are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.”

You can make your meetings more productive by scheduling them for no more than 15 minutes. Do not tack on any extra “just in case” time. Set a specific agenda so everyone knows what the meeting is working toward. If your meeting fulfills its purpose before the scheduled deadline, end the meeting right away and let people get back to work. (Pre-defined goals can actually cut time off meetings.)

If your meetings regularly run over their allotted time, you can speed them up by hosting them in locations without seating. Software teams need daily meetings to coordinate work, but they don’t want to devote a big portion part of the day, so they hold standup meetings. Walking meetings are useful to hasten the pace of a discussion, and they also inspire creativity.

Provide lots of documents

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Before you host or attend a meeting, ask yourself if it’s necessary. Plenty of meetings occur all over the world every day that never needed to happen in the first place.

In many cases, the meeting objective can be met with a simple email or document exchange. If the purpose of the meeting is to distribute information, that’s better done electronically.

Many discussions are best hosted online, as well. If you require in-depth responses from a group, use a chat or email thread (Slack is a great tool for this) to organize a discussion that doesn’t erode the quality of the information by forcing answers right now.

Provide as much material as possible at the start of the meeting so attendees show up prepared with thoughtful questions and valuable comments. Give them as much time as possible to consider the topic. Send this along with a clear goal for the meeting (i.e. “To identify and distribute project deliverables”) and agenda if possible.

During the meeting, have someone take minute notes. (No, not an actual minute-by-minute itinerary, but a general recap of the discussion and any decisions made.) They can be spread to people who didn’t attend the meeting, or used by attendees and other people in the organization as a reference. If you’ve never taken meeting minute notes before, here’s a great guide.

Finally, follow up your meetings with a quick email. Remind the attendees what was discussed, what decisions were made, and any actions items for teams or individuals.

Most importantly, use your follow up as an opportunity to solicit feedback. “Get a sense of whether or not your team thinks the purpose you set out to achieve at the beginning was actually fulfilled,” recommends Richard Feloni, management strategy expert with Business Insider. “Be open to suggestions on how the meeting can be improved.”

Not sure what the ideal meeting looks like? Use this free template!

Going forward

It’s smart to think of meetings like a tool. You wouldn’t use a tool if you didn’t need one, and you certainly wouldn’t use a tool longer than you necessary.

If you reduce your amount and duration of meetings, give them a clear purpose, and document them well, you’ll put a lot more time into your employee’s (and your own) hands for work.

Designing a Productive Office Environment

Your office is more than the place you do business. It’s the heart of your company. If the heart doesn’t pump energy to the rest of the body (you and your team), your work will suffer.

Productivity is on everyone’s mind these days. How do we get more done in less time? How do you improve the quality of your work without disrupting the balance of your lives?

You don’t need to hire an expensive office designer to create a productive work space. Nor do you need pricey office perks like ping-pong tables, nap pods, or beer fridges. For small, growing businesses, those aren’t options anyway.

In a turnkey office space, you don’t have the luxury of redesigning your space. Want to blow down that wall? A generous property owner may give you that freedom, but don’t count on it. They typically want to preserve the space so it’s easy to rent in the future.

But that doesn’t mean you can neglect office design. There’s overwhelming evidence that a carefully designed office can increase employee well-being, happiness, and productivity. You just need to make some basic changes.

Use this easy checklist to create your own productive office space.

Comfortable lighting

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Lighting is an often overlooked office feature. Poor or painful lighting can cause fatigue, headaches, and eyestrain. Working in poor lighting conditions over long periods of time can actually cause depression.

According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, consistent light exposure during the day makes workers sleep longer and better at night, feel inclined to participate in physical activities, and report a better quality of life.

Dr. Ivy Cheung, co-author of that study, told CNN that “light is the most important synchronizing agent for the brain and body.” It improves mood, communication, focus, and even regulates physiological functions, like blood pressure and heart rate.

It’s a simple formula: Healthy light = healthy people = better work.

Natural light is the best lighting for work, so for best results, open the blinds or use daylight color balanced CFL bulbs. They’re naturally energizing. Moods and productivity will improve.

Ergonomics and appearance

A person can’t be productive if their back hurts, their chair is too low, or if any of their equipment creates discomfort. Just using a computer can be painful, says OrthoInfo: “Under certain circumstances and for vulnerable individuals, frequent computer use that involves awkward postures, repetition, and forceful exertions may be related to nerve, muscle, tendon, and ligament damage.”

Supply your team with equipment that facilitates comfort for your specific working environment. For example, if your team spends hours sitting idly, you need ergonomic chairs for maximum comfort and monitors positioned parallel to the worker’s neck. But if your team is frequently moving, opt for standing desks (or desks that convert to different positions) for easy access and less body strain.

Encourage your team to take opportunities to adjust their bodies depending on their own needs. Let them stretch their legs with a short walk. If it’s all the same, consider taking a walk during meetings. Or, provide alternate types of seating based on their preferences.

Appearance is important if you regularly bring clients into your office. For instance, attorney clients expect large, heavy desks and shelves with legal books. Even if these objects aren’t necessary for a modern team, they build a perception your clients expect.

The right technology

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It doesn’t matter how positive you are, how talented of a leader you are, or how diligently your team works if you don’t have the right tools. Technology is key to building a competitive business.

This infographic from Intuit explains how much of an impact technology has on productivity.

  • Dual monitors can increase productivity from 9% to 50%.
  • Laptops instead of desktops improve productivity by 100 hours/year.
  • 69% of IT professionals say cloud computing improved their productivity.

I can’t tell you what the “right technology” means for your business. That would depend on what you do. But I recommend using newer devices, modern tools (like shared Google Docs over Word), and a strong Internet connection.

De-clutter-ize

According to Princeton University, “Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually suppressing their evoked activity throughout visual cortex, providing a neural correlate for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.”

That’s a fancy way of saying that clutter in your workspace negatively affects your ability to process information and stay focused.

The best way to reduce clutter is to digitize everything. Maintain all records electronically – just make sure to regularly back up your drives. Even calendars and notes should be replaced by apps so they aren’t lost, damaged, or misplaced, and can be shared.

Create a standard file naming convention across your company so anyone can find files on anyone’s computer or shared folders.

Anything paper that must remain should be clearly labeled and filed in a drawer or cabinet so it’s out of the way. Anything that doesn’t have immediate use or anticipated use should be archived.
Insist on a clean desk policy. Some employees may resist, but the increase in productivity will soon be apparent.

Spatial arrangement

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Often, offices are furnished quickly without much thought to the actual space. The movers drop a table against a wall and it stays there. You can enhance the productivity of your team by positioning items and equipment where they make sense.

For example, it doesn’t make sense to position Joe and Sue’s desk away from one another when they have to collaborate throughout the day. Every time they need to speak, they have to swivel around. It may take only a second, but over the day (and year), those wasted moments add up. Every unnecessary action costs something. Plus, they’ll be less inclined to speak to one another because it means repositioning and breaking from their current task. Over time, this handicaps your teams overall productivity. And that’s just one example of a tiny flaw that can do damage to your business.

And what about Eric the receptionist? He uses the copier several times an hour, but it’s on the other end of the office. Each time he needs it, he intrudes on other people’s workspace. It would make more sense to put it right near his desk.

Even if you have a simple turnkey space, you don’t have to stick to the original arrangement. Get creative with the furniture. Should everyone face each other? Should desk space be sacrificed for a conference table? Who should be near the door? There are countless permutations.

Temperature

A study by Careerbuilder found that working in an office that’s too hot or too cold affects productivity. Workers are easily distracted, prone to mistakes, and more concerned about alleviating discomfort than producing quality work.

What’s the right temperature? Software Advice conducted a study of office workers. They found that 50% of people are dissatisfied with the temperature in their workspace. Medium temperature preferences for men are about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas women prefer 72 degrees.

However, the correct temperature is the one your employees prefer. The only way to find out what they like is to ask them. Just make sure to match your required office attire to the temperature so employees can be dressed properly.

Setup a productive office environment of your own with our free checklist!

Productivity and simplicity

The single best way to be productive with life and business is to simplify what’s on your plate. Remove any tasks that aren’t necessary to burn through your to-do list.

The biggest advantage of a turnkey office space is how hands-off you can be. Instead of wasting your time dealing with contract negotiations, facilities maintenance, billing, and construction, you can write your rent check on the first of the month and let someone else worry about the details.

If you’re ready to find your next office, start your search here.

4D Printing and a New Wave of Office Technology

Technology advancement never ceases to amaze business professionals when it comes to everyday practical use.  Remember the days where office equipment technology was at its infancy?  As the 21st century surges forward we as the workforce are becoming more reluctant to work in an environment where office equipment doesn’t provide a competitive edge. Office equipment has driven innovation in communications, working styles and even in the value placed on certain skill sets.  Geography is no longer a barrier to doing business, nor are business travelers cut off from communications infrastructure that support their work.  It is difficult to predict the office and landscape of the 21st century. Trends point to smarter and faster technology that will be capable of carrying out more complex functions with minimal human input.

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Additive manufacturing (3D printing) is itself an emerging technology and has in fact been around for over 30 years! It is continuously being reported that 3D printing is now becoming more mainstream, but is still very heavily underutilized in the business world, considering its potential.  The potential to economically and time efficiently 3D print ANYTHING is an irresistible proposition. 3D printed materials is not the end of the story though, there are techniques to create materials/objects which can be pre-programmed to operate in a certain way.  Pretty amazing technology, what if I told you there is technology being worked on that would make 3D printing a thing of the past?

4D printing may be bursting onto the scene and leaving people in absolute awe.  Think of 4D printing as the same as 3D printing with the addition of time. By adding time to 3D printing the concept of 4D printing is born. This enables objects to be pre-programmed in various ways to react to a range of different stimuli.

4D printing is futuristic and a very exciting future at that. 4D printing delivers the possibility of designing ANY transformable shape, which can be made from a large selection of materials. These different materials will have many different properties and a range of potential applications and uses. There is a real opportunity for the creation of dynamic self-assembling objects which could transform and be used in a wide range of industries and in a large number of applications.

Research has cited examples such as the water systems of office buildings reshaping itself to efficiently allow water to be processed with minimal cost.  That very same office building can house a company that develop 4D sportswear/sports equipment that adapts its shape to its user and how they are performing when their body temperature of environment changes around them.  The possibilities seem endless. As time goes on 4D printing may just end up being available at your finger tips literally.  The cup you drink from, the desk you use for your work station to office building production.

4D Printing will play a key role in future production.  Making this happen on a human scale, is much more challenging, particularly in more traditional industries, such as building construction.  There is potential,in using self-assembling materials in disaster areas or extreme environments where conventional construction is not feasible or too expensive however. We might one day experience a future of adaptive infrastructure. In extreme cases we can apply this technology to  geographic locations that are notorious for producing earthquakes.  Just imagine where technology has come from.  If we can help save lives based on a concept that originated over 30 years ago.  Maybe one day constructing a building from 4D printing will be the norm.  Now that is technology.

Is Telecommuting Good?

Working from home. A dream for some people, a time management nightmare for others.

It takes a kind of resilience and penchant for solitude to work from home. It can require a great deal of self-motivation, strong emailing skills, and of course a steady internet connection. Avoiding traffic, or the bus or train can be a virtue, yet the freedom to brainstorm and socialize with your coworkers without a screen is a difficult benefit to match.

The concept of telecommuting is relatively new. In the early 1970s, Jack Niles, a rocket scientist for NASA first coined the term when a colleague asked, “If you can put a man on the moon how come you can’t do something about traffic?” Niles’ first foray into telecommuting was with an insurance company in 1973. Since the personal computer still hadn’t come into existence yet, Niles worked from one of the satellite offices the company had set up.

The statistics of people who opt for the home desk rather than the office suite are rather surprising. According the think tank, Global Work Place Analytics, the average commuter is breaching middle aged, has a college degree, works for a company with 100 or more employees, and earns around $58,0000 a year. They estimate that about 50% of the U.S.’s full-time work force holds a position that allows for flexible at-home work.

The environmental benefits of telecommuting are unprecedented. Global Work Place Analytics says that if all U.S. full-time workers spent half the week working from home, their business would save $11,000 per person per year, workers would save between $2,000 and $7,000 a year, and “greenhouse gas reduction would be the equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce permanently off the road.”

However, it’s difficult to replicate the kind of creativity and productivity that an office produces by working at home alone. “I love being in an office and bouncing ideas off of my coworkers. Working in-house promotes a stronger sense of camaraderie within my team.” Says Alfred, who has been working for a San Francisco-based start up the last three years. Without the physical presence of an employee, it’s difficult to determine the caliber of their work, is the most common argument against telecommuting.

Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of Automattic, a company which permits more than half of its employees totelecommute has a different theory. “It’s easier to slack off in that office than if you’re working remotely. If you come into an office and are well-dressed and on time, you assume people are working because they look busy. At home, all you have is your output — did you commit the code, did you write the post, did you make the proposal? There’s no theater of physical proximity.”

The Best Apple Products Of All Time

Apple-Products

“Later this year, we’ve got the best product pipeline that I’ve seen in my 25 years at Apple.”

These words were said by Apple’s senior vice president, Eddy Cue just last month. Sitting in our office in New York City, the gang at Turnkey Office Space got to thinking – what are the best Apple products? The mega-corporation has produced so many with such speed and grandeur over the last quarter of century, it’s difficult to really consider what are an office’s most vital Apple devices and computers. Fortunately we were able to concoct a succinct yet comprehensive list of the most intuitive and intelligent Apple gadgets and contraptions.

1. Mac 128K. After an embarrassing failure with the Apple III, the Mac 128K had its promotional debut in a commercialduring the 1984 Superbowl. The sarcastically somber tagline “You’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984’” swayed thousands of consumers to rush to their local tech stores and drop a whopping $2,495 on this beige, boxy critter.

2. iMac. From 1998 to 2003 we graced our desks with these translucent gum drop-esque machines. They came in a variety of “flavors” – from Bondi Blue to Tangerine to Flower Power. Today the iMac has a totally different reputation than it did 10 years ago. The 6th generation iMac features a 5mm thick edge and full lamination, a process that minimizes the gap between the LCD panel and the glass, thus eliminating reflection from the screen. The latest iMac is 97% more energy efficient than the original version, and uses just .9 watt of electricity in sleep mode.

3. iPad Air. iPads have a great, natural command for business activities. The set of preinstalled apps streamline projects, presentations, and data in a way that many computers can’t. Keynote allows you to easily create beautiful and inventive presentations, Pages helps you generate powerful and illustrative reports, and Numbers lets you track and compile data by using tables and graphs. We chose the iPad Air over the traditional iPad because of its improved design and new front facing camera which features face detection and backside illumination.

4. iPhone. It would be weird if we didn’t include the iPhone on this list! The all-in-one phone, computer, organizer, GPS, camera etc… is an office’s no.1 lifeline. We made it number 4 because the monthly bill is a bit of a drag, but all of its resources make it a must-have.

How To Siphon Productivity From Food

It’s 2pm. You woke up this morning riveting with energy and zeal for whatever the day might bring.

Now you’re tired, cranky and worst of all, unmotivated. Why do our batteries drain so quickly? Despite the obvious reasons: stress, fatigue and sitting for long hours – ultimately there’s not a whole lot we can do to change our mid-day energy slumps. Juicing, fasting, 6am yoga… all legitimate efforts but in the end there needs to be an easier solution that doesn’t require lengthy exercise or starvation. We at Turnkey Office Space have curated a ‘Productivity Menu’ of sorts, with a wide range of food groups to keep you wide-eyed and working hard!

Hard-Boiled Egg. Eggs are cheap, fast to boil and easy to store and keep fresh. Boil half a dozen on Sunday and you’re all set for a daily mid-day snack the rest of the week. An 11:30am egg is the perfect food to take the edge off your hunger and it’ll prevent you from overeating during lunch. Eggs contain a high amount of choline, a nutrient that aids with memory and mood balance. It also helps prevent brain inflammation. However, dieters beware, choline is only found in the yolk!

Karen Ansel, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommends a surprising combo of chickpeas and green tea. She says, “Chickpeas are the ultimate food for brain function because they combine protein to keep you alert along with complex carbohydrates to fuel your brain. Because the carbs are digested slowly they give you a sustained energy release that keeps you energized and focused. Adding a little balsamic vinegar is the icing on the cake because it slows down carbohydrate digestion even more, prolonging that energy release. I’d then wash the whole thing down with a tall glass of iced green tea. Green tea contains the perfect combination of L-theanine, an amino acid shown to improve concentration and focus, as well as a small kick of caffeine, so it’s the ideal drink if you need to concentrate but don’t want the jitters of a cup of coffee.”

On a budget but want your daily dosage of vitamins and minerals? Look no further than Soylent, the latest hacker food to sweep the tech industry. Soylent is incredibly cheap drink to make, and all of the ingredients are available in bulk at your local health food store. Too busy to make it yourself? Pre-made one-month supply packages range from $255-300, which comes out to only $3 a meal!

Virtual Office Space Helps Broaden Company’s Reach

A leader in helping companies find office space, Turnkey Office Space, released a recent statement asserting that virtual offices are becoming a trend for companies who want to increase their exposure without establishing a permanent office location in a city.

Turnkey Office Space, a leading countrywide online search service for businesses in need of office space, recently released a statement about the growing popularity of utilizing virtual office space to help businesses broaden their customer reach.

Virtual offices offer companies professional business services without having to pay for the overhead costs of a permanent office location. Often utilized by start-up or growing companies because they are considerably cheaper than permanent locations, virtual offices help expand a company’s corporate identity. Companies that already have an office in one city but perhaps want to expand their presence into another also benefit from this strategy.

Co-founder Jonathan Bachrach believes appearance can be crucial when establishing trust with customers, vendors and industry peers. By giving the appearance of having a broad national reach, companies may find it easier to expand their customer base and to establish that level of trust that is so crucial for startups from the outset.

Virtual office packages include services and amenities such as a professional mailing address at a prestigious location with mail-forwarding; professional reception services to answer calls, send faxes, make copies, and schedule meetings; and access to day offices or meeting rooms a few days per month.

“Startups need all the leverage they can get,” said Bachrach. “Virtual offices help give new companies the presence they need at low, cost-effective rates. Associating your company with a Park Avenue or Beverly Hills address and having a receptionist answer your calls can be a great way to start getting noticed. Having multiple virtual offices in different cities is a great, cost-effective way to accomplish this.”

According to a recent March 5, 2014 article by News and Features Editor Jo Disney of Officing Today titled “So How Do you Run a Virtual Office, Anyway?” virtual offices are also ideal for anyone who wants to protect their home address. Plus, with the increase in digital office experience as technology continues to become more sophisticated, day-to-day communication, document sharing, presentations and keeping track of a team are all easily achieved virtually.

“The 21st century is all about efficiency and financial responsibility for businesses in a struggling economy,” said Bachrach. “A company transitioning away from a traditional office and into a virtual office will experience environmental benefits, increased productivity levels from staff and of course a large financial saving on office space. What more can you ask for?”

About Turnkey Office Space: Turnkey Office Space is a countrywide search and consulting services for companies seeking office space. They specialize in office suites, virtual offices, and co-working spaces. Turnkey can be reached via their website turnkeyofficespace.com and by phone at 1-888-282-8555.

How to Get Out of Work to Watch FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup. It only comes once every four years.

The most anticipated athletic event aside from The Olympics, The World Cup garners billions of viewers and inspires thousands of bar fights. This year The World Cup takes place in Brazil. For Brazilians, soccer is a kind of religion. Most schools throughout the country are holding midyear vacations for the inaugural game. During the tournament, banks are only open for four hours a day, and federal employees are dismissed at 12:30pm on days when Brazil is playing. Unfortunately, if you’re a soccer fan living in the US, you won’t receive the same privileges. Here are some cunning, crafty stories from actual stateside World Cup buffs on how they’re going to successfully get out of the office to watch the game.

David, risk consultant, “I resigned. I had been thinking of changing careers for a long time and had applied and gotten into grad school months earlier. I figured that if I quit, I could spend the next month hanging out with my friends just watching the games and relaxing before I start school in the fall. My boss totally believed me and still wrote me a reference!”

Bridget, sales executive, “My husband and I got married nearly ten years ago but we never had a honeymoon. I knew that Greece had a good chance to make it past the group stage, and felt like this would be the ultimate opportunity to celebrate our marriage and see my team play. In March, I started mentioning to my supervisor that I’d accrued enough vacation time to take off 11 days. Even though June is our big sales season, my boss understood and we immediately bought our tickets for São Paulo.

José, project coordinator, “I scheduled a fake root canal. I hadn’t called in sick once and felt like a root canal was an unquestionable excuse for taking a few days off. I’ve only been at my company for a month and a half so I’m only eligible for sick time not vacation time. Hopefully no one realized that I’m leaving right when Italy’s playing. I’ve been wearing myBalotelli jersey into the office a lot lately.”

Kevin, development manager, “I work for a really cool startup that lets you make your own schedule after you’ve been employed for a certain amount of time. Most of Argentina’s games are in the morning, so for the next month I’m working a 11:30-7:30 day. My boss is totally cool with it and we’re actually going to watch a couple of games together.”

The Architecture of Productivity

A building’s environmental design is intrinsic to the livelihood of a business.

Whether it’s an open-floor plan, cubicles, an executive or private suite, the most critical facet of an office’s design is its ability to evoke creativity, and a truly successful working space encourages and inspires collaborative brainstorming.

MIT’s Building 20 was probably one of the most famous interactive offices. Built in 1943 during World War II to house a radiation lab, the long, factory-esque wooden building eventually became known as “the magical incubator”. Building 20 was the former of home to the university’s nuclear science and acoustics labs, the linguistic and philosophy departments, the integrated studies program, the ROTC and dozens upon dozens of other programs. Its infrastructure violated fire code and was intended to be demolished after the war, yet instead became known as one academia’s most celebrated facilities.

There was nothing aesthetically attractive about Building 20. It had a leaky roof and there was no HVAC system or heat. The hallways were narrow and dark. Yet, it’s horizontal design nurtured creative conversations amongst its workers. Conventional office architecture features a vertical layout whereas Building 20’s was horizontal. Typically, a chance encounter with a colleague in an elevator lasts as brief as the elevator ride. However, Building 20’s long corridors were ideal environments for extensive, impromptu scientific discussions.

Linguist Noam Chomsky, who worked in Building 20 for decades, called it “a fantastic environment. It looked like it was going to fall apart. But it was extremely interactive. There was a mixture of people who later became separate departments interacting informally all the time. You would walk down the corridor and meet people and have a discussion.”

Building 20 is a testament to the power of basic human communication over social technology. The offices fostered a long list of scientific discoveries, from the physics of microwaves, the first video games, hi-fi technology, and high-speed photography.

In 1998 Building 20 was demolished and Prtizker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry began designs for The Stata Center. What stands today could not be more different than Building 20. The Stata Center is a cartoonish structure, a goofy, futuristic design with awkwardly protruding walls and mish-mashing colors. However, according to architecture critic, Robert Campbell, “the building is alive. You can feel part of a community that is working hard… There’s connectivity. There are even windows in the fire stairs.

Is your office building lacking inspiration? Check our Turnkey’s listings for innovative work environments.

Top 5 Apps for Office Meetings

Is your office looking for new ways to stay more digitally organized?

Are your cubicle mates getting frustrated using FaceTime for conferences? Does your business want to expedite productivity and enhance work practices? There’s a lot of wisdom entrenched in app technology that can seriously strengthen the caliber of a workforce. We’ve got a excellent list of apps that guarantee to improve administrational tasks and accelerate meetings, no matter what realm of business you’re in: non-profit, start-up, franchise, or an internet-based company, these apps have been tested for success.

1. iThoughts (iPhone and iPad)

This app is great for project management and meetings. iThoughts eliminates the need for spreadsheets and charts. Its easy and simple interface allows workers to quickly plan and create comprehensive assignments, tasks, and schedules. Just tap and drag to create project bubbles and repeat to add details and assign staff.
2. Lync (PC, Windows Phone, iPhone, and iPad). It’s like the executive assistant you always wish you had. Lync’s agenda feature allows you to cut to the chase at meetings with its striking list of talking points visible to all participants. With just one click, Lync lets you easily host virtual meetings with up to 5 people. It also includes the share screen feature, which on Skype requires a paid account to access.

3. Meeting Pad (iPhone and iPad)

For project managers and coordinators who work in fields with heavy technical and equipment focuses, Meeting Pad is excellent for enforcing deadlines, organizing staff, budget details, and project progress. It also allows users to input audio recording and includes a feature for taking notes. The calendar can easily link up with your iCal and Google calendar. There’s also a DropBox integration element, so you don’t have worry about loosing files.

4. GotoMeeting (iPhone and iPad)

GotoMeeting allows you to schedule and conduct virtual meetings, no-frills style, think of it as a more basic version of Lync. If you want to make your discussions secret, it has the capability of putting passwords on your schedule details. Similarly to Lync, it’s easy to show slide presentations, spreadsheets, and reports with participants.

5. OneNote (PC, Windows Phone, iPhone, and iPad)

This concept of OneNote is a notepad with infinite pages that you’ll never loose. Its pages are easy to share which makes it great for work teams that are brainstorming collaboratively but can’t physically meet up. There’s also the video and audio feature that allows you to record when typing isn’t possible.