Setting up a specially designed and dedicated "war room" where work groups can collaborate with a minimum of distraction is one of the best steps a business owner can take to improve the group's focus and productivity. As evidence, a University of Michigan study found that productivity was two-to-four times higher in businesses requiring work groups and teams to work together in a dedicated common area instead of collaborating virtually from behind closed office doors or in private cubicles. The key to achieving the same result for your business lies in properly configuring and setting up a collaborative war room environment.
Configuration and Set-Up
Conduct a war room needs analysis. Identify the team or teams that will use the room, why and how often. List common and specialized equipment that work groups will need. For example, a design team that operates from a war room exclusively and permanently has significantly different needs than two or more management teams using the room for strategy planning one or two days each week.
Designate the room to use as a dedicated war room. A good choice is an unused conference room or office with enough surface area to accommodate the team and equipment a war room requires. If the room is included in a regular schedule for other uses, remove it from the list. Install locks on the doors to make sure both the room and the confidential material within it are secure. Get a “do not disturb” sign to ensure the team is not interrupted while war room sessions are in progress.
Cover the walls with as many whiteboards as you can. War room teams -- especially design teams -- use whiteboards for everything from story diagrams to research notes. Support a variety of work modes by furnishing the war room with moveable furniture. Flexible furniture such as rolling desks, stackable chairs and rolling whiteboards make war rooms reconfigurable. This is useful when the team needs open space as well when team members require desks. Provide good overhead lighting as well as portable task lighting fixtures.
Promote optimal productivity by supplying the best technology your business can afford. This includes laptop computers with webcams, wireless Internet access, a high-quality conference phone and one or more wall mounted plasma screens. A ceiling-mounted projector, overhead projection equipment and laser pointers are also important. Install and maintain a well-stocked office supply cabinet as well.
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