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Updated 29 Sep 2020

The space between

How to manage your office space for productivity.

15 January 2014  Share  0 comments  Print

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When you start a business, often it starts with you and you alone. You may have a business partner or you may have someone to assist with accounts or administration.

But as businesses grow you take on more staff. Here’s an often forgotten part about taking on more staff though: It’s not just enough to hire the best you can afford, it’s about giving them the best environment you can afford to help them be their most productive, motivated and efficient.

Here’s how to manage the space your business operated in.

Your first thought project is to think about the work your employees do. Does it require focus or collaboration? Is it a mixture of both? Tasks requiring concentration tend to need quiet and few interruptions.

If you’re in an open plan space, how conducive is the environment to focus? Collaboration is the complete opposite. It requires interaction, conversation and space for brainstorming.

While we can all Google Facebook’s offices and… well… Google’s that are pimped up with all the latest and coolest tech like nap pods, music studios, chic cafeterias, quite spots, and all things awesome, a small business just doesn’t have the space and budget to dedicate to such things that boost productivity.

This doesn’t mean you can’t maximise your office for productivity and efficiency. Here’s what you can do:

Great offices on a budget

  • Once you’ve determined whether your staff require collaboration or focus, the next job is to figure out how to make the space as intuitive as possible. Think about the tasks that each staff member needs to complete and the resources they’ll need to get that task done seamlessly. Ensure a conference room is available for collaboration without disrupting those needing to focus. Does the conference room have a whiteboard, notepads, pens, etc. Is there fluidity in the office so that those needing to break away from their desks can continue working elsewhere? Is a staff member needing focus plonked next to the photocopier?
  • Your next mission after adjusting the space is to moderate the behaviour in the space. If colleagues have a tendency to come over for a chat, it means broken concentration to those around you. It can take up to 40 minutes to get back into a state of focus which adds up to a lot of lost productive time and energy. While it’s unreasonable to expect employees to focus non-stop without distraction for a whole working day (and trying to enforce silence is equally unproductive and damaging), instil a culture of respect where distractions are kept to a minimum or socialising is kept away from focus spaces.
  • Have you given employees a say in where they work? Do you have a staff member who prefers to work in a cubicle or small office while others prefer open plan? Most people know the kind of environment they work best in. Speak to them and find out how you can accommodate their needs. Additionally, empower employees with as many options regarding where and how they work. WiFi can help them work from the bench on the balcony, on the couch in the reception area, in the conference room etc. Sometimes all that’s needed for a productivity boost is a temporary change of scene.

Think about the colour scheme in your office space. Colours can influence mood and energy levels. Bright colours energise (but can also agitate). For creative work and energy, consider yellows and oranges.

Use red sparingly as it can be an agitating colour if over used. For a calming atmosphere, greens and blues mellow out the mood and encourage focus. Greys and beige can be draining, boring and uninspiring if used too much, while white in excess can be sterile and stark.

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