It’s no secret that office space is a significant business expense. Signing that rental agreement is an exciting new stage for your company, but it’s also a big commitment.
Think of your new office like an investment. It should increase your revenue by making your team more productive, giving you a place to meet with clients, and allowing you to expand your operations.
But in order to protect that investment, you have to do everything you can to ensure a good return. That means setting you and your employees up for success in your new environment.
What does success mean? For one, you want your team to like their jobs.
The University of Warwick found that happy employees are 12% more productive. The research team said: “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”
There’s plenty more science behind that, too. Shawn Achor, a Harvard psychologist, found that our brains actually work better when we’re generally happy. Happiness, he asserts, isn’t innate. It can be managed. “It’s a cultural myth that we cannot change our happiness.”
Furthermore, productivity can be influenced outside of happiness, as well. A few changes to work schedules, environment, and even lighting can fan the flames of productivity without pushing workers like a slave driver.
Here are some ways you can make your team successful in the new office.
1. Give them whatever information they need
Make your employees’ transition comfortable by supplying them with information about your new office environment.
Pick up some maps or whatever literature the town/city provides on public transportation. They’ll need bus routes, subway stations, train stations, pricing, etc. If there are any nearby parking lots or garages, pick up flyers with their rates and hours.
(Extra tip: Look into negotiated parking or public transit rates for your business. Some places offer reduced rates if you’re buying bulk. Your team might appreciate the savings.)
You should also grab menus from local restaurants or take out places. Yes, your team can easily Google for location food spots, but this will make them feel like you care about easing their transition.
Furthermore, make them aware of any company policies that change or come into effect because of the new office. For instance, you might implement a dress code or more structured working hours. Put all of these changes in writing for later reference.
2. Be flexible with their schedules
Give your team a little leeway with their work schedules once you move into your new office. If this is your first office, they’ll be adjusting to office life after a period of time working from home. If this isn’t your first office, they’ll be adjusting to the new commute. They’ll be learning the new route, traffic patterns, and when to leave the house.
If possible, use the transition as a time to experiment with not worrying about work hours at all or getting rid of the eight hour work day. See if you can depend on your team to work a fair day, even if it’s not exactly nine to five. You might be surprised that people appreciate the latitude and try not to overstep.
Depending on how much you trust your team, you might also give them total access to the unit. Give everyone a key so they can come and go as they please. If someone wants to work late and start late the next morning, give them that option. If you treat people like professionals, they’ll usually respond in kind.
3. Schedule uninterrupted work time
If your employees are used to working in a home environment, they had all the peace and quiet they would ever need. They could turn down their phone, ignore their emails, and log out of Slack chat any time they needed to get something finished.
In an office, we lose that luxury. There’s ambient noise, other people typing, and it’s easy to interrupt each other.
Designate a portion of the day for uninterrupted, solitary work. This is called time-blocking. Usually this is best for early hours when the work day starts. That’s when creativity and productivity are at their highest.
Time blocking is an excellent way to focus on a task without becoming distracted. When we’re interrupted for other things, we have to reorient ourselves back to the project at hand. This constant reorientation costs time and erodes the quality of the work. It’s also stressful.
Gary Keller, author of The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, blocks off time each day to address his top priority for the year. You could encourage your team to do this by identifying the one thing you want them to do best and giving them uninterrupted time each day to work on it.
During this blocked off time period, team members have the right to work quietly without being interrupted. It doesn’t mean they have to, however. If two people decide to work together or don’t need the quiet block that day, they can work as they please. The key is to give everyone the opportunity so they can really push their own productivity.
4. Make the environment pleasant
You may have worked amidst an untidy mess in your spare bedroom, but that won’t work in a proper office.
Your employees expect a professional environment. They don’t want to be crowded by excess furniture, squint their eyes all day due to poor light, or pinch their noses against odors. It’s your job to create an office environment that’s comfortable and encourages productivity.
Working in a pleasant environment can have a tremendous impact on workers’ performance. A relaxing atmosphere with a few extra amenities may not seem cost-effective, but they can go a long way to influence the attitude of your team.
Lighting is extremely important. Poor lighting can cause eyestrain, fatigue, headaches, and overall poor productivity. Natural lighting is best, but if that’s not an option use lights with adjustable filters.
Finally, give your employees options in regards to their furniture. In turnkey spaces, you’re usually renting the space with basic furniture, but customize whatever you can for comfort and ergonomics. Give your team their preferred chairs, computer monitors, and other tools (wherever possible).
5. Ask your employees what they want
The best way to learn how you can support your employees is to ask them directly. Find out what they need, what they like, and what would make them more successful on the job. Do they need a special tool or software? Noise-canceling headphones? Flexibility with a certain policy?
Getting honest feedback isn’t easy, though. No one wants to complain to the boss and disrupt the work environment.
Skip the “anonymous” suggestion boxes. If you have a small team, it’s pretty clear who’s making the suggestions. Plus they foster an office culture where suggestions can only be made anonymously due to fear of retribution.
Instead, encourage your team to have honest conversations with you about how the business environment can be made better. Don’t expect your employees to come to you with complaints or new ideas; ask insightful questions regularly.
Any time you make a substantial change, there will be an adjustment period. Don’t expect you and your team to become perfectly comfortable in your new office environment right away. Change takes time.
For instance, if your employees are late every day for the first two weeks, chalk it up new routes and traffic, not sudden laziness. Over time, everyone will settle into their new environment, and happiness and productivity will soar.
If you haven’t found your new office yet, start your search today.