Do you have a detail-oriented job and need extreme focus? Are you a creative who needs to relax in order to let the juices flow? Not every in an office needs to look cookie-cutter identical. Set a tone in your own space with plants, a few art objects or personal items. Or let an entire team redefine its area based on job function, perhaps letting them paint their region of the space a certain color or encouraging them to doodle and noodle on their area's whiteboards.
Make It Homey
More and more large corporations are nixing the "corporate" feel of office furniture and using functional but comfortable sofas, arm chairs, and conference tables more akin to Pottery Barn wares than to the Steelcase catalog. When workers feel they're "at home," they feel more at ease to bring all of their faculties to the table with respect to brainstorming, communicating, and bringing their whole selves to their job's thought process. While your office need not look like a den or a Starbucks, there's nothing wrong with incorporating homey elements in some departments or within spaces of certain departments to communicate to staff that they can curl up in a comfy chair and still get good work done.
Choose An Inspiring Neighborhood
If you're establishing a new office or planning a move, consider carefully what the neighborhood you choose says about your business. In most major cities, there are entrepreneurial districts of town--the neighborhoods where, by association, you're staking a claim on hipness or situating yourself with bigger players in your industry. Keep in mind that work neighborhoods are a major unspoken ingredient in the recruiting process. If you plan to grow and want to hire top talent, new college grads and twentysomethings will want to see how you've positioned the company among similar businesses. In other words, choosing the right address helps with HR productivity and marketing.
Factor In Fitness
Few startups offer fitness programs, and most send mixed messages about work-life balance. (You can have a life--except when we're on deadline!) While the dotcom days of in-office foosball tables and Friday beer pong may have fallen by the wayside, that doesn't mean you can't encourage your staff to stay fit. You can always negotiate an employee discount rate at a neighborhood gym, but better yet your office space can offer bike racks (or bike parking), a shower, lockers, and other minimal amenities that help staffers who bike-commute or steal some workout time at lunch to keep fit despite long work days.
Make It Nontoxic
Keeping employees healthy is one key to productivity. After all, if they're out sick, they can't work. How your workers take care of themselves is largely out of your hands, but you can make a difference at the office by ensuring that your work environment isn't contributing to poor health. By making sure your office is cleaned regularly, that your indoor air quality is clean, and that water is pure, you can make sure you're not compromising workers' health. Interview any cleaning services that you use carefully, and if you're eco-conscious, discuss whether or not they're using nontoxic cleaners. Additionally, consider hiring an eco-consultant to help "green" the office, reducing any noxious materials, chemicals and products and replacing them with healthier alternatives.
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Amina AlTai teaches entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs how to balance a thriving career, body and mind.