Once you’ve purchased or rented office space and set up the basics, you’re good to go, right? Wrong! What about proper desks for your team? Some greenery for the area? And even good lighting? These are just some of the many factors you should consider when thinking about office space organization. Properly organizing your office space can have numerous benefits, from improving workflow and atmosphere and increasing productivity to attracting clients and sparking creativity, which is especially important for creative or marketing agencies.
Let’s get to the nitty-gritty. An ideal office should include the following areas clearly distinguished from each other:
- Individual workstations
- As a small business owner, chances are you don’t have enough space to provide each employee with their own office, but cubicles are a dated concept and are truly non-conducive to the creative, productive office space environment you want to create for your employees. Instead of cubicles, have shared work desks with sections for each person. Think: three long-rectangular workspaces divided into three will fit 9 employees with ample space for thought and creativity. Each workstation should include a space for equipment, filing documents, a space for personal items and a You might want to consider elevated desks as are becoming increasingly popular, although not for everyone.
- Your kitchen should cover at least the basics: coffee machine (and yes, this would be first priority), water dispenser (avoid plastic water bottles to help the environment), microwave, small area to eat, a fridge, and trash. Make sure you implement a system to clean the fridge regularly. An example can be, anything that is not taken home by the end of the week will be discarded in the trash every Friday.
- Another tip: supplying coffee or simple snacks and creating a nice dining and resting atmosphere will encourage employees to eat at the office or take coffee breaks there instead of leaving to the nearest Starbucks — it’ll save their wallet and keep them on a timely schedule.
- If you’re lucky, you’ll find an amazing office space with a restroom that meets all the ADA regulations (Americans with Disabilities Act). But if you find yourself on the other side of the rainbow, make sure your bathroom complies with all the ADA regulations, including but not limited to: ample space for a single wheelchair to rotate, a 60-inch width toilet to accommodate wheelchairs in front, a horizontal grab bar handrail, sinks or countertops no more than 34-inches high, and touch-free or motion-activated hand dryers. Any mechanism requiring a patron’s use (faucets, knobs, valves, etc.) must be workable with just one hand.
- Copy/Mail station
- This one is mostly self-explanatory but you want to be sure you provide a mail station with all appropriate items including staples, stamps, boxes, stationery, and anything else you may need to avoid the dreaded trip to USPS and easily mail out items from your office space. Refer to this article on how to save on office supplies.
- Social area
- Imagine this office space as a nook designed for employees to take a break or de-stress. It can double as a meeting room when needed, or even informal events such as office happy hours, birthdays, or congratulatory remarks. Keep it light and airy so that employees associate the space with positive regard.
- Meeting / Conference Room
- You want to be sure you give your employees a private meeting room whether its to meet with you for performance reviews, or to meet with a potential client. Whatever the case may be, be sure to have this room far away from workspaces, if possible. This should be a completely private and confidential area.
- Waiting room
- If you receive clients in your office, be sure to provide a welcoming and comfortable space. This is key to make clients return to your office. Provide a coffee machine, coffee table books, and if you’re going to have magazines its very important to update these regularly and show clients you are up to date with trends. A popular animal show playing on a TV or soothing background music always helps, too.
Other Tips on How to Design your Office Space
- Location: If your office is in a shared building, provide clear instructions and signs on where your office is located. For example, one sign upon arrival and another sign on your office door so clients may easily find you.
- Security: Workplace emergencies can happen at any time and it’s best to be prepared for the worst case scenario by developing an action plan. An action plan should be tailored to your unique worksite. It should detail every and all hazardous equipment you have in the workplace that could cause an emergency. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards, lists all the standards of emergency action plans. At a minimum, your emergency plan should include, but is not limited to:
- A method for reporting fires and other emergencies.
- An evacuation policy and procedure.
- Emergency escapes and routes.
- Names, titles, departments and telephone numbers of individuals to contact outside your company for additional information or explanation of duties in the emergency plan.
- Procedures for employees to perform or shut down critical plant operations.
- Rescue and medical duties for any workers designed to perform them.
- Colors: As mentioned in How to Decorate Your Restaurant, psychologists have proved that color has an impact on our brains, meaning certain colors can evoke certain emotions. To create a dynamic and optimistic atmosphere, opt for yellow and orange. To enhance creativity, focus on lilacs and for serenity: green, green, green! Don’t forget colors can also come in the form of beautiful plants and flowers. If you’re opting for a natural office space design, definitely use plants regardless of the color scheme, as plants usually promote peace and health. In any case, it’s beneficial to consult with an interior designer to guide you on the best use of color and to make your ideas come to life.
- Cleanliness: Ensure your office space satisfies the higher standards of hygiene and cleanliness. The best you can do is hiring a cleaning services company.
- A/C and heating system: Whether you’re in a warm or cold climate, you’re going to need either/or so be sure to include the costs in your budget. The right temperature will make everyone in your office comfortable: your employees won’t be eager to step outside to have some fresh air or to warm up.
- Lighting: Natural lighting is a superior option to any form of electric lighting; some studies have shown that exposure to natural light not only increases workers’ satisfaction with their workplace but also increases productivity. If you’re going to opt for overhead lighting, you’ll want to include other types of lighting as well, since overhead is not the brightest. You will also want to have an office space that is uniformly lit. This is where the various types of lighting come into play, as each can help to fill a room in a totally balanced way, making for much happier employees.
- Smoking: Familiarize yourself with your state’s laws on smoking regulations — they all vary. For example, in Florida, employees are not allowed to smoke in most indoor spaces with the exception of a few, while in Oregon employees cannot smoke inside any building.
- Small spaces: To maximize small office space, look into separating rooms by carefully using colors, decorative items or bookshelves. These provide a great alternative to walls and can make your office look much more trendy. If possible, invest in a layout plan from a junior interior designer — those who are looking to build their portfolio can help you map out your office in the best way possible.
There are loads of benefits to designing a cohesive, welcoming and productive office space, but the first and foremost is to provide your employees with space they feel comfortable to work in. If you’re looking for more tips like these and the last trends on small business, be sure to subscribe to our Newsletter. It’s free and every week you’ll receive in your mailbox resources and tools to manage your business and make it grow.