August 2020

Month Archives

11 ways to have productive meetings

Making meetings more productive has become the holy grail in work culture. How many times have you come out of a meeting and thought ‘this could have been an email?’ What a post-COVID world has taught us is that there is a way to make meetings work even when we’re not all together. And with more virtual meetings taking place – from having to work from home or remotely – it has us compiling a list of the best, simple ways to have more productive meetings.

1. Review your meeting calls

Start by reviewing the criteria you have that calls for a meeting. You may have come to learn that some things can be organised and resolved by simple emails or a quickfire chat in the office or a WhatsApp group.

2. Use group chats

When it comes to remote working or working from home, group messaging apps (like the popular WhatsApp) have brought an easier way to get things done for companies. Whether you have staff who move around such as travelling to clients etc. a group chat can be a quicker and more productive way to keep everyone involved or to host a meeting.

3. Make them virtual

Virtual meetings are one of the most helpful ways to carry out meetings for remote workers. As a company, try sticking to one technology to keep it simple and so that everyone knows what to download, it could be Zoom, or it could be Google Meet. You don’t have to worry about costs with so many free resources.

4. Make them more specific

Only host meetings for those involved. This may work for you but not for others. If you’re a company whose team works closely together or a smaller business, whole-staff meetings may be the way. But for bigger companies or for tasks that are more specific, it may be better to keep them for only those involved. That way, they can be shorter and more productive and team members can simply fill others in with quick chats.

5. Create agendas and share in advance

Create quick agendas to help meetings be more productive so everyone is prepared and can bring their A game. This can help keep meetings free from awkward pauses or can help employees bring more thought-out ideas to the table.

6. Take mini minutes

Taking minutes can often leave one employee pressured to keep up or could cause them to fall behind as they may struggle to stay engaged. Minute taking is a productive way to summarise and keep everyone informed to avoid any key info being missed. Consider alternating the role of minute taker and reassure employees that notes should be kept short and sweet. 

7. Do standing and walking meetings

Don’t feel confined to your office desk all day. For those quicker meetings that don’t need a notebook, have employees stretch their legs and go for walks or encourage them to stand for more collaborative approaches. Being a bit more active and allowing your staff to move can re-energize them and spark ideas.

8. Productive presenting

If you need to make presentations, there are so many quick and free resources to help you bring your ideas to life and get the key facts and stats across. Download design apps or use websites to create simple presentations that can save time and prevent PowerPoint boredom.

9. Use gadgets

With so many great gadgets at our beck and call, it’s now easier than ever to speed up meetings and to make them more productive. It’s worth investing in some key technological items that can help meetings run smoother. Consider your budget and how suited some are to your company. For instance, if you’re a smaller team, you may have tablets for meetings for employees to interact with documents or to make it easier to view them. You don’t even have to break the bank as you could use voice recorders to help with retention (every smartphone has one).

10. Assign roles

An idea to help meetings run efficiently could be to assign roles. For instance, having an assigned summariser or minute taker takes care of the wrap-up of meetings. Designating someone who is good with technology to take charge of all the tech admin can also help meetings run more smoothly.  

11. Create a template

This doesn’t have to only mean creating presentation templates. It can be a good idea to create a general template for how you run meetings in your business. Linking in with assigning roles, you could hand out a template to all staff to show how all meetings should run so everyone knows what is expected of them. This could look something like a step-by-step outline to make them less time-wasting e.g. Meetings > Held in conference room 1 > Matt to set up projector > Lorna to hand out meeting notebooks and pens > Meeting host begins > Q&A from the rest of the team > Karen to summarise. 

Space Planning

Preparing for schools reopening

As of recently, the government has confirmed that schools will be reopening for the autumn term and has asked schools to prepare for all pupils to return full-time, and that includes nursery, too. What is also asked is that schools comply with health and safety laws, assessing risks and putting in place proportionate control measures. It’s vital that schools review their health and safety risk assessments and adapt and consider extra measures reacting to the current climate.

Protective measures for schools

The government has set out some extra, adapted measures to those already in place. The protective measures include:

  • More thorough hand and respiratory hygiene
  • Enhanced cleaning protocol
  • An active engagement with NHS Test and Trace
  • Requiring those who are ill to stay at home
  • Implement social distancing and serious efforts to reduce contact wherever possible

Social distancing in schools

When it comes to one of the main requirements – that has been drilled into us since the outbreak – social distancing is a tough one to manage when working in a school. The government understands this and it has given some pointers:

  • Arrange classrooms with forward-facing desks
  • Staff should maintain social distancing between each other and their pupils as much as possible
  • When grouping children, avoid contact between groups

Whilst it’s going to be a difficult protocol to maintain, the government takes this into account but stresses the importance of social distancing and to implement it wherever possible.

Adapting the school environment around coronavirus

The idea of using canteens, toilets and kitchens in the school environment, brings a chaotic scene to the mind. Hundreds of children will be in and out daily, so what can you do to help the school environment adapt?

Breakout areas

Consider more breakout areas around school. Many schools have already implemented these for intervention and guided reading groups but for the extra measures to consider, this will further help reduce contacts. There are many space-efficient tables to opt for. If this proves tricky, many intervention teachers take groups to outdoor areas too.

Have some canteen seats off limits

When it comes to canteens, it’s a good idea to reorganise the queuing system, you could opt for floor stamps like many retail shops have to signpost appropriate distancing. Also, for canteen tables it would be wise to have markers or signs to help break out groups on tables. Have some canteen seats off limits with seat signs. Consider setting up outdoor areas for even better ventilation.


Provide social distancing protective screens

For the ICT rooms or smaller areas where social distancing is more difficult, provide social distancing protective screens.

Keep toilets well stocked

For toilets, just like you should be checking already, make sure they are well stocked and have plenty ready in storage. This includes toilet paper, hand wash and hand sanitiser. It’s also a good idea to provide sanitary products for your female students and staff.

Make more space in classrooms

Make sure classrooms are adapted appropriately. Again this may be difficult but every little helps. If you have enough room and space, rejig the seating and use whatever you have in storage e.g. add some beanbags for extra seating space.


Reorganise lockers

It may be worthwhile reorganising lockers and breaking up units to help spread them out to help with those chaotic transitions between classes. And for school offices, make sure you have the best office storage

Hygiene in school

When it comes to thinking about long-term virus protection, consider these tips to help maintain hygiene in all school areas:

  • Make sure antibacterial wipes and hand sanitisers are available in classrooms, breakout areas and canteens. Wipe down sides and equipment before and after use. Don’t forget labs and chemistry equipment as well as desks and chairs
  • Give wipes and hand sanitiser to each student for their desk and encourage regular cleaning throughout the day
  • Review your cleaning protocol and make sure they are up-to-date with government guidelines
  • In canteen areas, make sure kitchen staff are extra protected. If they aren’t already, consider wearing different gloves when cleaning down and serving food. Also, consider face visors as well as face masks
  • Encourage pupils and parents to bring in their own hand sanitiser and face masks but it’s best to provide disposable masks on premises