Jan 29 2014, 2:34pm CST | by Forbes
When I first started my company, my office could be anything from the public library, a co-working space, or any coffee shop with free Wifi. But as I grew my team, the need for a “real” office grew as well. I then invested time and effort seeking out the right space and the things to put in it.
I suggest you do the same. Because make no mistake: Your office location and layout will have a direct impact on your success.
Your company’s office plays a big role in shaping its culture. Equipment and décor can influence productivity and mood, and the floor plan can facilitate the flow of energy and ideas.
Not only that, but your company’s physical environment can also make or break your workforce. According to a survey by the American Society of Interior Designers, “employees cited their physical environment to be one of the most important factors influencing their decisions to accept or leave jobs, tying for second with benefits.” Forty-one percent of respondents said that the physical workplace would impact their decision to accept a job, and fifty-one percent said that it would impact their decision to leave one.
Here are the most important factors I considered when building out my company’s workplace:
Company culture and personality
Put a lot of thought into the culture that you want for your company. What values do you want to communicate to your employees? How do you want to come across to the public and to your customers?
If you need inspiration, consider checking out what other companies are doing. Visit the about or career pages of organizations similar to yours (or businesses that you’re aspiring to be) and look into the environment and amenities that they offer. Take caution though. Don’t get too carried away with emulating other workplaces. Sure, a slide in the office looks fun and all, but is that really “you”?
As a company, it can be tempting to skimp on your office space and devote all your resources to salaries, product development, or advertising. But research and experience will tell you that neglecting your office environment can do more harm than good, so allocate enough resources for it. You can compromise on certain aspects, but not to the point of giving up the culture and environment that you want to establish.
While the numbers are different for each company, a good way to go about the budgeting stage is to think about where your company is right now, and where you want it to be in a year or two. Try to build an office for the company that you want to become instead of what you have in the present. Or at the very least, find some middle ground between the two. Don’t think of this as spending away your capital. Instead, see it as an investment in your company’s future.
Once you’ve decided on your budget, you should have a good idea of which areas are within your range. The next step is to make a list of cities and neighborhoods wherein you can set up shop. Don’t list just any area that you can afford; be sure to factor in the culture and environment that you want to build. For instance, at Retention Science, we chose to lease an office in Santa Monica, CA because it’s LA’s technology hub.
You should also think about the types of people that you’d like to hire. Are you looking to bring a lot of hip, creative individuals on board? Do you need some serious engineers? Do some research on where your ideal employees live or hang out and consider locations that would appeal to them.
You’ve already thought about where your office will be situated at, now it’s time to consider what the inside of your office should look and feel like.
When talking about office space, the debate on whether or not to go with an open floor plan is bound to come up. While some studies suggest that open offices curb motivation and increase employee dissatisfaction, many companies maintain that the openness encourages collaboration and communication. (Just look at Facebook’s open office environment.)
At Retention Science, we’ve found the latter to be more effective. We don’t have any walls or cubicles in our office; instead, we have a large open room for our team of engineers and data scientists. This type of environment fosters teamwork and even boosts productivity in our company. Since we’re always face-to-face with other team members, we rarely have to go back and forth via email or meetings and this allows us to get things done faster.
Not only that, but having an open floor plan means that no team member ever feels alienated or left behind. Everyone is on the same page at all times, thus reducing miscommunications or misunderstandings.
Of course, this may not be the same for other companies. When deciding on the floor plan for your office, think about what your team will be doing. Will your business require constant collaboration or will people be separated in different departments? Are you going to deal with a lot of sensitive information and private documents? These are just some of the questions that you should consider when making your decision. For more insights, talk to founders or employees of companies similar to yours and study their office environments.
Amenities and special touches
While perks and special touches may not be considered the most important things in an office, they still play a significant role in motivating and inspiring your team. Always have some items in place that can make the work space pleasant and unique.
For instance, our office has a big and bright orange wall with a quote that says, “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.” This represents our company philosophy and sets the tone for the working environment. Additionally, our walls are covered with large white boards with mathematical models and engineering team deployment schedules. People see these things as they walk through our doors and they immediately feel inspired and ready to work.
We have yoga balls rolling around that our guys can use as seats, and we have exercise equipment so team members can stretch and squeeze in some mini-workouts in between coding. Our office also has some bean bags, a small basketball hoop, a dart board, and a hockey table that people can use when blowing off steam.
Don’t be afraid to have fun and show off your personality when adding perks to your office–that’s part of the reason why you have them. A quick caveat though: when selecting amenities, make sure that each item serves a real purpose and that every perk contributes to the wellbeing and productivity of your team.
Pimping your office isn’t enough
One final note: while office set up and décor can go a long way in shaping your company’s culture and atmosphere, they can only go so far. You can optimize your equipment and furniture for productivity and inspiration, but the actions and values that you demonstrate are still the greatest factors that will influence your company’s environment.
So always remember to walk into your office each day with the right attitude; the rest of the company will follow suit.
Source: Forbes Business
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