We’ve been discussing the emerging trend of re-imaging office space to provide for better working conditions, use of advanced technology, and evolving work styles. You may be wondering how you could begin to re-image your own office space to join in this new trend. Of course, much of the answer depends on your business and type of office space, but any office space can be evolved to some extent. Here are some areas to begin reviewing for re-imaging:
Break Down Walls: If your company’s office space is divided into small cubicles with moveable wall partitions, this can be a great place to start re-imaging. Discuss with your employees what areas they would feel more comfortable with as open areas where those performing like types of work could have easier interaction. If you have a totally open office layout, would the workers prefer to have some areas partitioned so that there are “quiet areas” for working when deep concentration is needed.
Take it Outside: Place an outdoor table and chairs set or sets in an area where they will be safe. This can be a fenced in area or, if you do not have such an area, consider concrete tables and benches since they are not popular theft items. If you permit smoking during breaks, you very likely already have some similar area already established. When weather permits, hold meetings outdoors and permit other meeting facilitators to do the same. The feeling of freedom and pleasure of fresh air and sunshine can really change how people interact in meetings. This type of setting can open up ideas and brainstorming to improve outcomes of meetings. The added pleasure of the venue will bring smiles and openness to new ideas.
Consider Telecommuting: Depending on how much face time is required, you may find that you could offer employees the opportunity to work from home on an established schedule. Many companies, both large and tiny, have begun allowing workers to schedule one day per week to work from home and it has proven to be an excellent change that improves morale. However, there are some employees which simply do not like to work from home because of children’s’ interruptions or personal preference. Those employees should have the option not to participate in the telecommuting program.
Work in Comfort: You likely already have a break room or lounge for employees. You may have other areas in the office space that are more comfortable than a desk. Allow your workers to use this space for any work that can be performed on their laptop computer or for making business-related phone calls. The break from sitting at a desk can really motivate the employees to perform above average.
Think Tank: If you have the space available, consider creating a pleasant area with plants and perhaps a fish tank where workers can focus on free form thinking to create outside-the-box solutions to problems. If you don’t have space for such an area, allow workers to bring in plants, small water fountains, or other items that they find help them focus on creative thinking. Google, Microsoft, and many other companies have found the idea of an area for thinking to be very effective.
Be Open to Employee Suggestions: Ask employees what other re-imaging ideas they feel would greatly improve comfort, job satisfaction, and creative thinking. Your employees know what they want in their office space and can help you with ideas to economically re-image the space in which they spend a large portion of their lives. Be open to ideas which are affordable and do not require extensive remodeling. One of the greatest job satisfactions to an employee is the feeling of being heard by the business owner and seeing the ideas submitted being implemented.
Changes do not have to be huge to re-image an office space and work style and most small businesses may not be able to implement huge changes, but even small changes in the way business is performed can bring big pay-offs in motivation, satisfaction, longevity, and productivity. If you will be seeking a new home for your business in the near future, keep the ideas of re-imaging in mind and search for a location which will facilitate the new ways of interacting in the workplace. Your bottom line will let you know how much these changes are appreciated by your employees.
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