Does Your Office Environment Match Your Office’s Personality?
People who know me say that I’m a fairly good interior decorator. At the very least, I can say that I take a lot of pride in my home and put considerable time and effort into making the environment warm and comfortable. Since most of us spend as much (or more) time at our office, it makes a lot of sense to create a space that employees want to spend time in thereby increasing workplace productivity…not a place that feels (or looks) like a prison.
I’m sure many start-up companies have followed a similar path to ours. In the beginning, space is an after-thought…there’s a ton of work to do, and not enough people to do it. Does anyone even have the time to look up from their desk to notice what color the walls are?! However, as your headcount grows, so does your need to put some thought into how your office space is designed and whether it matches your corporate personality.
Growth has certainly spawned some growing pains for us. Ask any Fpweb’er and they’ll tell you that we’ve never met a wall we were afraid to tear down! Our story goes something like this:
Our office space was originally composed of mostly private offices. By the time I arrived on the scene, we were starting to feel the pain of this configuration – teams were growing large enough that they needed to be able to hear each other, but how do you do that when a wall is in the way? So…down came the walls! Great idea, right?
Well, sorta. What we found is that collaboration is nice, but open areas can get noisy when you’re trying to focus on a complicated task and your office mate is on the phone with a customer. And multiply the distractions by 1,000 if you have more than one office mate (as most of our staff do). Another thing we learned is that our needs change throughout the day…and they’re likely different from our office mate’s at any given time. There are times when sitting near a teammate is great, but it sure would be nice to be able to squirrel away in a quiet area and do some heads-down work from time to time.
Another thing we learned is that our “teams” weren’t always limited to people assigned to the same department. Some of our departments are very integrated with others and it makes a lot of sense to have those groups sitting near each other. This realization spawned what we called “The Great Office Move of 2012” where almost every employee moved into a different area of the office. Although it was a big shake-up, we put a lot of thought into who should sit near whom, and the move has resulted in some great new collaborations.
Now that we’ve learned some lessons around who we are and how we work, we’ll be able to put them to good use when the time comes to move to new space. The next step is creating a truly inviting environment – one that balances comfort with inspiration. We’ve been inspired by the office designs at Google and 37signals, but there are many more to choose from.
Top 5 Tips For Redecorating Your Office Space:
- Private offices may be a thing of the past for most of your employees. If so, make sure to provide both collaborative areas and quiet spaces. Then make it easy for your employees to move between the areas during the day.
- Make your employees mobile – It should be easy for them to take their work from place to place without losing productivity. iPads and WiFi for everyone?
- Use color, plants and decorations to warm the space. The goal is to make your employees want to move about the office and utilize the entire space. And if people are moving, that means they’re interacting with different folks every day – which never hurts the development of your corporate culture!
- Keep each department’s “personality” in mind when designing their area – Marketing and Sales most likely need a much different environment than the Engineering or Executive team.
- Listen to your employees – they usually know what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to work.
I hope you can use the lessons we’ve learned here at Fpweb.net to help your own business. Although spending money on lamps, rugs and desks may not seem like a good return on investment, you’ll be amazed at the workforce you’ll attract and retain. Also, don’t be afraid to shake things up – you might find yourself out of your comfort zone, only to decide that you’ve ended up in an even better zone!