Linda Trim and Giant Leap assists companies in developing the necessary workspace and culture for the optimum workstyle. Here is her advice for making a workstyle that’s right for your company culture.
Linda Trim is the director of sales and marketing of Giant Leap, a company specialising in office design for a better place to work and think. These are her lessons on providing the right space and cultivating a culture for productivity.
At Giant Leap, the company’s mantra is ‘Welcome to a better place’
They are proponents of having a balanced workstyle, as the first eight hours of your day are arguably the most important. So the necessity for having a balanced workstyle for maximum productivity can’t be under-estimated.
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“We’ve put a lot of effort and thought into creating an environment that’s ergonomical and enjoyable to be in, as comfort goes a long way in retention and productivity. And subconsciously, when people are happy about being at work, they’ll talk proudly about the company and do a better job of living your bran,” Trim says.
Office spaces have changed a lot in the last ten years
It’s much more expensive than it used to be to rent, and so where the trend used to be towards open plan, now there’s a trend towards space saving and carefully evaluating how those spaces are being used. With today’s technology, it’s not necessary to be tied to your desk, you could work anywhere in the office, but this means you need flexible spaces and blanket Wi-Fi access, for example.
“At our offices, we’re very collaborative in nature so there’s a lot of open plan space, but we do have a flag system to show when someone is not to be disturbed, we have soundproof phone booths for personal calls, and meetings happen in the collaborative spaces rather than chatting at someone’s desk, disturbing others.
"We also have rooms dedicated to being quiet for when privacy, concentration or quiet time is needed. It’s all about being flexible, giving people the tools and space they need to do their work, and having difference spaces to accommodate different styles of working and personality types.”
How can office space lend itself to employees mixing and collaborating?
Giant Leap has a rule at its offices that no one is allowed to eat lunch at their desk. It’s not very hygienic, but it also encourages people to chat and get to know one another in the canteen.
People who ordinarily don’t work together will talk, share ideas and get to know one another, and that fosters a really great culture. Trim also eats lunch in the canteen, as it’s a great way to get a sense of what’s going on in the company and people’s lives.
“I don’t believe that executives should be put in their own wings, never to be seen by the rest of the company. Everyone has their role to play in a company and so, if an executive needs an office, give them one, but then encourage an open door policy or have them mingle during break and lunch times.”
Change management is important for a productive office
What is the point in having the best chairs and desks money can buy, and different spaces for various functions when your staff don’t know how to use them?
Whenever a new person comes on board, it’s essential to teach them how the office works – not to take personal calls at their desk, to respect the flag, to move to collaborative spaces when having discussions and so on.
You don’t need to police people, but it’s important they know how to use their spaces and equipment properly for overall harmony and productivity.
It's not just about having the right chair
It’s all about creating an environment that’s comfortable to work in: The right desks and chairs, computers at correct heights, acoustics, lighting, ventilation, departments in good proximity to one another, required equipment close to the people who use them, aesthetically pleasing art, colours and textures.
All of these elements must firstly follow the function of the company and the space it occupies, and then customised to make the space a good one to be in.
Flexible offices mean you need space to get away
A lot of progressive companies internationally, and some in SA, are realising that for maximum productivity you need to allow your staff a space to get away and take a break.
“We’ve got a space we call the nest because it’s there for staff to take a 20 minute break to recharge. I find that my productivity goes back to the same high levels they were in the morning when I take a ten to 15 minute break in the nest to practice good breathing techniques, be quiet, clear my mind of thoughts, and practice mindfulness.”
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Slow and steady wins the productivity race
Trim has learnt that you get better productivity doing things slowly and thoughtfully than being rushed.
She recently read a book called The Slow Fiby Carl Honoré, and it’s really about finding the best ways to tackle complex problems.
“Today we’re in a work culture of push, push, push, but often the best problem-solving and decision-making happens when you’ve had time to think about things and consider all the options, rather than making a decision on the spur of the moment because you’re rushed.
"When I catch myself becoming rushed, I remind myself of what’s important for the day, come back to my single task, and try avoid distractions that result in busyness.”