Rethink Your Office's LayoutSometimes you've got everything you need right where you are, but you've arranged it the wrong way. Consider hiring an "interior space redesign"consultant or a feng shui professional--someone who won't force you to buy new stuff but will rearrange what you already own. These professionals use a mix of practical and aesthetic priorities to create an environment where you can maximize your productivity. They'll double-check your office's flow (how easy it is to walk around among desks and furniture), assess overhead and area-specific or task lighting, whether your most-needed tools are accessible from your desk, and the aesthetics of color and furniture arrangement. One common change that borrows from feng shui: Rather than shove a desk up against a wall and work with your back to the room, turn your desk to face the room and work with your back to a wall. This way, you're more likely to face a doorway (and visitors) or a window (and sunlight), which puts you in what feng shui calls the "command position."
"Restack" Your OfficeWhen larger corporations reconfigure existing office space or hunt for a new lease, they frequently enlist facilities specialists to discuss how employees use the existing office space and its many features. As an entrepreneur, you probably don't have the time or money for such an endeavor, but a quick e-mail poll or one-week survey can help you and colleagues quickly spot patterns. Indeed, such research often leads businesses of all kinds to realize that what they need isn't more space but better use of existing space--what's known in office design circles as a "restack."If you're considering expanding, rearranging, or introducing new equipment or functions to your office space, poll colleagues first. Here's what to ask: 1) How many hours per week do you spend at your desk vs. working externally?
You might be surprised to learn how little time some workers spend in-office vs. out in the field or in meetings elsewhere. Often, such workers can get by with much smaller workstations and less in-office equipment.
2) Where do you conduct meetings? If in-office, is space sufficient?
Do you need a full-on conference room or a corner with a few sofas? Have you hit a tipping point where employees are spending entire workdays at Starbucks because they can't talk to clients and contacts in the office's overbooked or insufficient meeting area?
3) How often do you use your landline phone vs. a mobile phone?
At work, as in home life, many small businesses are going all-mobile, all the time. If workers have one single phone number where they can always be reached, they may save time not having to check so many phone lines. Bonus: Going all-mobile may save major dough.
4) Do you have to wait for certain equipment? Which equipment?
Do you need a second fax machine? Do you need another printer? (Maybe you need a color-dedicated printer so that slow presentation jobs don't clog up quick-and-dirty black-and-white contracts?) Do you have a clunky photocopier that only one person knows how to operate? The wrong equipment can waste lots of time.
5) What room, space or feature of the office do you never use? If no one uses the beanbag corner, the lockers in the kitchenette or the reference book shelves in the corner, chances are you could develop a dozen more useful spaces with these regions of the office--like a seat for an intern or a new colleague!
Don't Overspend on MobilitySo you've got a sales guy who works remotely but nonetheless pops into town now and again, needing a place to hang his hat and get some reports done. Does he really need the same size workstation as the rest of your workers? And a landline and file drawer? Chances are, the answer is no. Every office needs a guest or "hot desk" space for its intermittent workers. Think of these workstations as akin to guestrooms in your home, small touch-down spaces where someone might work, at most, a full day. Sure, you need a (desk and chair), task lighting, a writing surface, and a Post-it with the network's login codes. Beyond that? Little else. These spaces can be smaller, tighter, more open and less "decorated."You don't want that on-the-road worker to settle in--they need to get back out there.
Create "Collaboration" AreasThe days of the modern-day conference room are mostly kaput. In a small business, meetings are quick and casual. Break up banks of desks with small seating areas--a few chairs or a sofa and coffee table, for instance--so workers can confab amongst themselves while working on projects or brainstorming. Or place pull-up seating (chairs on rollers or other flexible furniture) at the end of banks of desks so colleagues who need to huddle at one desk or another can grab a chair and hunker down.