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Work Less. Work Better.

Admit it: you want to work less. And work smarter. You want to enjoy your free time, but you need to make good money. And of course you want keep learning and enjoy your career at the same time. Whether you work in a so-called creative industry or not, balancing personal autonomy with productivity and great teamwork is a challenge we all face. Is there a possible solution to this seemingly impossible equation?

Actually, yes. It takes planning, consistency and teamwork, but by properly structuring your time and work methodology, you just might be able to have it all. Here’s a plan of action:

Monday morning: Start focus

Begin by gathering all your team members in a room where you’ll spend 20 minutes reviewing “the challenges of the week.” Each person writes their three personal challenges for the week on a post-it, puts it on wall, and reads it aloud to the group. These challenges must be clear objectives with completion dates. Whether it is personal (I want my desktop cleaned by tomorrow night) or linked to others (I want to deliver that project to the client on Wednesday night), it must be something that can be accomplished. This works because it is a commitment you make in front of your teammates. To keep everyone motivated, the post-its remain on the wall the entire week.

Wednesday morning: Share with others

At Base Design, we call this the “Creative Meeting”, but it can be adapted to fit many types of businesses. This time, everyone is present, from the office manager to creative and financial directors, and you’ll spend about 3 hours getting on the same page about all aspects of the business. While that may sound like a long time, it’s a crucial way to “glue the team together.” It is the moment where ongoing projects, discoveries, research, presentations are shared and discussed. And other things will be shared as well: emotions, feelings and passion! The Creative Meeting is led by one person (it could be someone different each week) who is in charge of the agenda and the time keeping.

Importantly, the meeting starts with “the inclusions” where each participant openly responds to the following three questions: 1) What is my energy today? 2) What happened to me since last Wednesday? 3)What are my expectations for this meeting? 4) What will I bring to this meeting? As implied by its name, the inclusion method is a tremendous tool to include everybody and give everyone a voice of equal importance. The meeting ends, after all presentations, sharing and debates, with a round table of constructive feedback.

Thursday lunch: Forget work

The true feel-good, rendez-vous of the week. It’s a very simple concept: one staff member takes a turn cooking for the rest of the team. There’s no work, no agenda, just time to enjoy a meal and the company of your colleagues. Time your team spends getting to know each other as friends is as important as the time they spend collaborating as co-workers.

Friday afternoon: Look back

Time for a review of the week. Duration: variable. This is when the team gathers and each one gets to return to his or her Monday post-it. Did everyone fulfill their three challenges? Yes, great. No? Let’s analyze why, discuss it with the others and learn from it. Remember, the goal is to work less and better, and here’s an opportunity to discuss how to do just that.

The rest of the week? Full autonomy

We’re all adults here. Each member of the team is certainly mature enough to organize the time spent on their own projects and meetings (inside and outside the company) and combine it with the demands of their personal life in a way that works for them. No judgement, no second guessing. Just deliver good work on time, and everyone is happy.

Checking in, staying on the same page and cheering each other on at intervals during the week is something any business can implement to help their employees stay on the right track and achieve balance between their work and personal lives. By respecting these milestones with absolute discipline, you will see responsibility and autonomy raise naturally among your team members and these gatherings will become an essential and enjoyable way to support the well-being and efficiency of your team.

Written by Base partner Thierry Brunfaut.