Startups have become kind of synonymous with “cool” office design. The exposed ducts, and wide open spaces are commonplace in the tech scene, where employees can sometimes be spotted working from the couch. At any given gaming or tech startup, you’re likely to find a fully stocked fridge and big cushy chairs.
Is all this design worth it?
Some anecdotal evidence suggests startups are great places for community building and that workers tend to form friendships that last throughout their careers there. Just ask the founder of Maptia, who moved his company to a beachfront office property in Morocco to keep his love of surfing alive. If keeping your employees happy means investing in their workspace, consider which improvements are likely to have the best impact.
Contract work is becoming more commonplace, especially amongst small businesses where individuals often share the work burden with another contractor. In this case, virtual office design is just as important for productivity. Keep a Google Doc with a task list that your contractor can access at his or her schedule. Encourage freelancers you work with to change their scenery and exercise too. Moving around in a new space is a surefire way to get creative juices flowing.
For some, coworking is another approach to the small business in-home office. Rent space in trendy parts of your city to get a full day of new scenery. Coworking is also great for collaboration. Talk with others about the challenging projects you’re taking on, or offer advice to help. Coworking generally doesn’t leave much room for a worker to customize his space, but it can be a great tool for networking. Look for coworking events in your area to meet new business owners tackling some of the same challenges as you.
Controlling sound inside your office involves a few concerns. Some offices let employees listen to music, so choosing a radio station for the office could become an unnecessary productivity killer. If employees listen to headphones, they may be unable to hear someone else in the office talking to them. Customer service employees on a handset will also pick up residual noise when speaking with clients. Advanced headsets like those from Headsets Direct will help control the voice level and keep communications with the clients seamless. Another helpful tip would be to adopt an internet based chat program for the office, they can help employees listen to music quietly while remaining engaged with the group.
Sitting in chairs for extended periods can wreak havoc on one’s back, shoulders, and wrists. Proper posture is important, but there are a few things you can do besides spending thousands on office furniture. Encourage employees to actually sit properly with their back straight, shoulders level and monitor raised to eye level. The employee’s elbows should rest comfortably at the sides of the chair, with wrists straight and slightly elevated. Offering small pillows for an employee’s back will provide some extra support. Also encourage stretch breaks, where employees get up and exercise between tasks so that their bodies remain limber.
Encouraging employees to take a walk outside isn’t just about losing weight. Proper air supply from a natural source has benefits to your lungs and brain too. This means less headaches and a reduction in the chances of developing asthma. Employees also need sunlight, which is easy to miss out on when working 8-5 on weekdays.
A well designed workspace can provide sunlight to workers, and give them more control over their light. Encourage your employees to be more proactive about their workspace and take pride of ownership over your company. It’s trendy to invest in the stocked mini-fridge, but your employees might be happier with a cozier workspace.