Entrepreneurs are usually very good at the core attributes of successful business ownership like vision and planning, and these are the elements of the business that motivate them to succeed. What they can sometimes neglect amongst the excitement of doing business is the environment in which they and their staff are working. Are you guilty of paying more attention to systems and profits than the efficient operation of your workspace and the comfort of your staff? If so, you’re missing a trick, because the better the working environment, the more productive your staff will be. Here are some ideas of where to start.
The extent to which you can alter the building you work from will depend upon whether you own, lease or rent the space. If you own it, then the only limitations are finance and any development restrictions or the requirement for permits. If it’s leased or rented, then you’ll be restricted by your contract and will likely have very little responsibility for the building. In this case, it’s always worth having a conversation with your landlord to discuss the possibility of improvements to the building. Examples would include upgrading double-glazed windows to more efficient modern units that provide better insulation and noise reduction or installing solar panels. You might not have thought about solar for your office building, but if you do some research, you’ll find there are some highly efficient specialist businesses offering their services in your local area, such as San Diego roofing companies, for example.
Have you looked at your walls lately? Are they still the same neutral color they were when you moved in? Imagine how much brighter and more welcoming your office would be if it had a bit of a makeover. Freshly painted walls and ceilings can make a huge difference to the ambiance of your workspace, lifting the spirits of you and your staff. You could ask the staff to look at possible ideas for new colors and have a vote on the final choice. Staff usually appreciate being consulted about what goes on around them, rather than having decisions foisted upon them, so you will be gaining respect by involving them in the decision-making process. Of course, you may not get a consensus, but if you chose the color yourself, you’d inevitably have dissenters anyway. At least if you’ve asked for staff input, they can’t complain that they weren’t consulted!
Once the walls are finished, you can look at other ideas for improving the office environment. Artworks add interest and a touch of class if well chosen, and needn’t be expensive to be effective. There are many new and unknown artists offering their work online, or you could visit local galleries and make use of home-grown talent. You may even have someone in your company who has an artistic flair. Photographs can make excellent talking points in the office and can be matched to the business for added effect.
Lighting and heating
Having good quality lighting can make a big difference to people’s well-being and productivity in the workplace. Too dull or too intense and lighting can cause headaches, eye strain, and irritability. You should perform an audit of all your lighting to ensure that it is the most appropriate for the work being carried out and the needs of the staff. Natural light is always preferable if you do have access to it, but if not, then artificial lighting that mimics the quality of natural light is best rather than harsh white lighting. The temperature of the office can be a bone of contention if you have some staff who prefer it warmer than others. It’s entirely possible to have one member of staff shivering in a big sweater whilst another is sweating in a vest top! Compromising is the best solution, to get the temperature as comfortable for the majority as possible. If you do have anyone who feels the cold, site their desk nearer to the radiator. If you have anyone who gets overheated, you could site them nearer the windows if that would help, or get them a desk fan to keep them cool.
Obviously, you don’t want the office space cluttered up with too many unnecessary items, but allowing your staff to personalize their space will help to keep them happy and motivated. Personal photos, stress balls, small toys or keepsakes; as long as the items don’t get in the way of the workstation then whatever helps to keep your staff cheerful should be encouraged. Plants are an excellent addition to the office or any indoor space. Not only will they look appealing and brighten up the office space, but they will help with the air quality by recycling carbon dioxide. Make sure there is a designated individual to care for the plants in your team, to ensure the plants stay alive and well. Making sure everything is pristine clean, including sparkling windows and facilities like bathrooms and kitchens, is another way to boost everyone’s spirits and make them feel that they have a pleasant working environment.
Is it worth the investment?
Some of the measures you can take will cost very little, yet could improve your business’s productivity by a significant amount. This increase in productivity will result in improved profitability, and therefore you will recoup your spending in a very short space of time. Larger investments like solar panels will take longer to provide a return on your investment but will be just as effective in the longer term
There’s no doubt that heading into work can be made far less of a drudge for your staff if they know they will be in a clean, well-lighted, welcoming environment where they have their own personalized space. Happy staff equates to more productive staff, and that, in turn, leads to increased revenue. You’ll also find that a pleasant environment can help reduce stress, which is important for everyone’s wellbeing including your own, so don’t leave your own office out of the makeover process.
Author: Alec Neufeld is a retired builder, now freelance writer and part-time general fix it man. He has strong opinions on the use of alternate energy and is also an avid sports enthusiast.