5 of the best: funky new management tools
From colour-changing sleep pods to digital lunchboxes, Insights takes a look at five of the most innovative and quirky tools on the market to help managers be the best they can beJermaine Haughton
The demands of the modern workplace require managers not just to oversee and delegate the work of their staff, but to also be responsible for the motivation, creativity and responsiveness of their team. Not to mention multitasking on more than three or four projects at the same time.
Gadgets and apps have been developed to support managers in dealing with these challenges, and here Insights reviews five of the coolest, funkiest and most innovative management tools on the market.
Created by Valerie Corcias and Dominique Kelly, founders of designer accessories and apparel firm Pantone Universe, My Coocoon provides workers with padded, comfy pods with a surrounding orb that changes colour to match the user’s mood, using a smart-connected app.
Intended to act as a gentle and intimate space for staff to regain confidence and concentration while completing their work, the start-up’s founders believe the product’s unique use of colour therapy can be the ideal calming effect for managers and their teams.
Last year the installation spent two months in Canary Wharf. “It stayed in an incubator with people working on financial technology,” said Kelly. “All the staff changed their way of working, and they changed the way they connected with work and with other people”
Research is divided on the impact colour therapy can have on improving an individual's handling of pressure and stress, but some experts are convinced by its benefits.
Ingrid Collins, a consultant psychologist, said: "We know that the cells of the human body are constructed from atoms and that each atom consists of particles of energy in constant motion. We are therefore at the most fundamental level made of energy and information, so when we add a particular colour we are adding energy into our lives."
Collaboration and engagement are two buzzwords managers up-and-down the country refer to on a daily basis. Klaxoon’s cross-device platform is an example of a new tool which helps bring those terms into reality.
Consisting of a collection of tools that facilitate interactivity, Klaxoon Session allows users to simply plug in their content and be ready to offer simple, playful and effective activities to a group, including quizzes, surveys, challenges, brainstorming activities or live messaging to up to 1,000 participants.
Research from Epson and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) has found workers waste two hours and 39 minutes in meetings every week, and it's costing businesses an estimated £26bn a year.
Repetition of information, lack of focus amongst attendees and unstructured agendas were seen as the top time-wasters in meetings closely followed by technology.
Through Klaxoon, company presentations or meetings can take into account delegates’ opinions and interests, as managers can launch surveys to determine how many people understood the content.
Prepd Pack attempts to make lunch easier, healthier and digital by using its sealed multi-configuration lunch boxes and app to help users plan, prepare and track the nutritional value of their lunches.
While breakfast is commonly considered the most important meal of the day, lunch is not far behind. Often providing a much-needed break away the office, having a nutritional meal is essential to avoiding an afternoon slump.
Beverly Beuermann-King, a Canadian stress and wellness expert, believes that how we handle our lunch breaks has a huge impact on how we feel for the rest of the day.
“It is about using our energy wisely and replenishing that energy so that we have a rhythm to life,” she said. “We know that our digestion needs time to do its thing properly. We also know our bodies need down time in the middle of stressful situations to recoup energy and be able to refocus.”
The Prepd app contains easy to follow meal plans, making it easier to cook lunch for multiple days at a time, and prepare a week’s worth of lunches in under an hour.
Furthermore, workers who are trying to lose weight can benefit from the Prepd App providing instant access to the calories and ingredients within the meal, as well as feedback about their diet.
At a time when 13% of workers seldom or never' take time for lunch at all, Prepd is useful for reminding managers that lunch can be simple, cost-effective and not time-consuming,
A key networking tool, Charlie can help managers prepare for key meetings, and corporate social events by giving them essential background information on whoever they are about to meet.
Gathering together data from a range of sources, including social media and news sites, Charlie automatically sends users a one‐page profile on the people they’re set to talk to, before they even meet them.
This gives managers a vital advantage, allowing them to identify the key interests and motivations of the subject, the best way to open up a fruitful discussion and make the all-important, great first impression.
Research shows that most people decide whether or not they like you within the first seven seconds of meeting, spending the rest of the conversation internally justifying their initial reaction, so hitting the right note at the beginning of a meeting is essential.
Livescribe 3 Smartpen
Connected to iOS and Android devices, the Smartpen is a fast and easy way of digitising note-taking.
Designed to work and write like a premium ballpoint pen, the Livescribe 3 Smartpen uses Bluetooth to send everything that is written by the user straight to their smartphone or tablet.
Whether you’re on the commute and an idea pops into your head, or you’re at a major client meeting receiving feedback, taking notes is an invaluable part of a manager’s life.
Therefore, by storing and organising everything the user has written on paper, arranging notes chronologically, syncing recorded audio to the written or drawn words and allowing for the sending and sharing of PDF's of notes, Livescribe helps managers build up a easily-accessible bank of knowledge and information that they can access at any point.