Get All Access for $5/mo

Tips 51-55: Rethink Your Office's Layout

By Entrepreneur Staff


Rethink Your Office's Layout

Sometimes 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 Office

When 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 Mobility

So 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" Areas

The 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.


Keep Your Space Flexible

If your business is growing and changing, your ought to reflect that. Periodically look at how well your functions for your staff. Ask yourself if workers have enough space to accomplish tasks, if it offers clean air, water and light, and if the space can rapidly adjust to accommodate temporary workers who might pinch-hit on tight deadlines. Can you use flexible room dividers or other materials to create temporary privacy or soundproofing for key project teams? Is your space's temperature adjustable? Is network connectivity available consistently and remotely? Does the workplace create a sense of place that's linked to your company's mission, and does that sense of place evolve alongside your business?
Entrepreneur Staff

Entrepreneur Staff


For more than 30 years, Entrepreneur has set the course for success for millions of entrepreneurs and small business owners. We'll teach you the secrets of the winners and give you exactly what you need to lay the groundwork for success.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Growing a Business

How to Determine The Ideal Length of Your Marketing Emails Your Customers Will Actually Read

Wondering how long your marketing emails should be? Here's what consumers say — so you can send them exactly what they like.


Tech Overload Will Destroy Your Customer Relationships. Are You Guilty of Using Too Much Tech?

Technology's value in our world is undeniable. However, there can be a point where it is ineffective and possibly counterproductive. See where it can negatively impact your product, brand, and business.


Clean up Your Mac Software with This $12 Family Plan, for One Week Only

Save on a program that can optimize your company's Mac computers.


Most Gen Z Workers Want This One Thing From Their Employer. Are You Providing It?

Millions of college graduates are entering the workforce, and many feel unprepared. Here's the one thing they're looking for from potential employers — and how providing it will benefit you and your business in the long run.

Operations & Logistics

How to Know It's Time to Add an HR Department

HR activities at startups are often reactive in nature instead of proactive. That leaves gaps in the system.