Not all small businesses have the luxury of being able to hire a professional to design their work environment in the most optimal way to beget the highest possible degree of productivity. Even still, there are many steps you can take as a small business owner to subtly overhaul your workspace, and those of your employees, to have a healthier, happier, more overall productive workday. Here are our top 5 strategies to do just that:
Whether you’re working at home and trying to mitigate sound from kids or pets, or in a busy office with 30 other people and awfully thin walls, controlling which sounds inhabit your workspace is important to productivity. What “sound control” means for your small business environment is going to be very specific to you, so we won’t issue too much general advice, save to say that taking time to address sound flow in the workplace is never time wasted. Maybe it means installing sound-absorbing panels in a room where lots of noise tends to occur, or maybe it means playing a mutually agreed upon playlist to keep energy high in a communal workspace, or maybe it just means figuring out what kind of sounds, white noise, or music keeps you motivated, and investing in a really good pair of headphones. Whatever solution fits for your business and your office, paying attention to aural harmony will smooth out your whole day.
Not just for setting the mood on a date! Having adequate light for any workspace is important, but if you want to truly step up the energy level in your office, go a step further and use daylight color balanced high powered CFL bulbs. The bulbs come as close to mimicking sunlight as possible, which is naturally energizing. It might seem like a small detail, but you can expect an overall big improvement in the atmosphere of your office. Increased productivity won’t be far behind.
Employee productivity (and your own) can only go so far as their physical body can carry them. At the end of a long workday, muscles in the neck and back start to ache, even headaches can set in. Carpal tunnel is a bummer. In the “there’s always more work to do” lives of small business owners and employees, more often than not, you stop working because you feel physically compelled to. Investing a little time and money into making sure that desks and computer screens are at appropriate heights, and that you have good office chairs. It’s not a terrible idea to have some work stations set up to be worked at while standing, just to give yourself or employees the option to switch it up.
Far too many offices are set up with little to no focus on how work is actually performed in the space. Maybe the copier is where it is because there was an available power supply and room for it to fit. Nevermind that it sits at the opposite end of the building from the receptionist, who uses it most frequently. And to get to it, she has to walk through three other people’s work spaces, creating noise and distraction multiple times per day. See what we mean? Your office space should be functioning in service to the people in your office, and how they work, not the other way around. It’s worth doing a little creative brainstorming to figure out ways to streamline the layout of your office.
Task-specific work stations
If you can make this alternative work environment practical for your business, it’s a fantastic, innovative way to conduct the day. Instead of having everyone do all their work in their own personal “area” – desk, office, etc. – try setting up different stations in your collective space that are for individual tasks. This works especially well if everyone in your business does similar things all day. For example, if your business involves putting together packets of information for clients, maybe you have one station specifically for printing, and another that has all the hole punches, staplers, folders, and other assembly materials, and still a third station for preparing outgoing mail. Having specialized stations that are available for everyone to use works for a few reasons: you don’t have to have multiple of the same item – like packing tape, or staplers – since everyone will be going to the same place to use them, and employees get a chance to leave their desk, stretch their legs, keep their blood flowing, and their view changing, all of which is fantastic for keeping the brain out of a slump. Also, when each area of the office is set up for only achieving certain specific things, you increase employee efficiency right away – if your employees aren’t stuck doing everything at their own desks all day, you have a much smaller chance of them zoning out in front of their computers. Task-specific work stations keep the office moving, busy, and productive.