Reinvent your offices…on a budget

Posted On Monday, 15 May 2006 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Designing offices with people in mind

Michael SchirnigIn a 2003 survey by Management Today magazine, 94% of those responding said they regarded their place of work as a symbol of how much their employer valued them. But only 39% thought that their offices had been designed “with people in mind”, and in another study almost one third said they were too ashamed of their offices to bring back colleagues or clients…

This gap between employee expectations and reality needs to be tackled. Here are 6 easy ways to reinvent your offices, that won’t break the bank!

1. First impressions count: What you see is what you get. What's the very first thing that a visitor or staff member arriving at your office would notice? Your visitors should see one important object or focal point, which is a symbol of your business successes and your expertise. It could be a display of your awards, it could be a few framed press clippings that mention your company, it may be a poster showing the best of what you sell.

But, it should evoke a mental "Oh, how wonderful!" response from visitors, and remind you and your staff daily of your business achievements. Also, keep the entry-way clear: you, your staff and clients should feel comfortable and at ease walking into your offices.
2. Can the clutter: Even if you work alone at home and no one sees your workspace, the clutter has got to go. Whether it's one small pile related to a project, reference books stacked on the floor, or a chronic storage problem throughout your home office, clutter symbolize snags and snarls in the flows of your business.
By keeping your office fresh and clutter-free, you'll improve the general sense of well-being--and professionalism--in your work. You'll feel better and your business will benefit.

3. But….allow your staff to “personalise” their space with photos of their family, hobbies, project charts etc. Subliminally these items say ‘I belong here’. So in a way, personalization is a part of what becomes shared, which in turn becomes part of the work culture. The same thing comes through in the music they may play in their work area, or the coffee rituals they go through each morning. It's quite tribal, in a way.
4. Add a dash of colour: if your offices are a sea of beige and grey, think again. Repainting part or all of your work-space offers probably the best bang-for-your-buck when reinventing your premises. Get staff to wear old clothes to work one day, buy pizzas and Coke, crank up the music and get everyone to pitch in – a wonderful team-building opportunity, too. Take your offices “upmarket” by adding forest green, burgundy and bluish reds, or you can signal “cheap-n-cheerful” by painting orange, red, yellow or grey.

5. Add dedicated quiet space: creativity blossoms in quiet settings. One can of course go the whole hog and add indoor waterfountains and provide dedicated, carefully engineered solitude etc, but a comfortable lounge chair and an ottoman tucked away in a quiet corner does the trick just as well. 

6. Add casual meeting area(s): don't fall into the trap of believing casual gathering places are a frill. When co-workers and customers stretch their legs and lean back (and get spiked on caffeine!), it's surprising how much more engaged they can become in a conversation.

The bottom line? If one analyses the costs that are spent at a typical office building, barely 6.5% goes on construction, perhaps 8.5% on furnishing, maintainng and operating the facility, while a wopping 85% goes on the salary costs of the occupiers. As Nedbank used to advertise: “It makes you think, doesn’t it?”

So, get the location, design and layout right so that your staff can efficiently and effectively get on with the jobs they need to do, supported by the space, rather than hindered.  

Last modified on Sunday, 25 May 2014 15:19

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