How much thought have you put into the layout of your office space? The fact of the matter is that every piece of furniture, equipment, and even the floor plan, all communicate the values of your business, and can also hinder or improve your company’s goals and productivity levels. It’s as if your office has its own ecology.
Did you take an ecology class in school? If you did, then you may recall that ecology is a branch of biology that looks at how organisms relate to one another, and to their physical surroundings. If you apply the principles of ecology to your office setting, then the non-living components (abiotic) would be: desks, chairs, decorations, computer equipment, lighting, even the branding of your company. The living components (biotic) would be the workers who are in the office and doing their job, including the collective vibe created by team dynamics.
If you view your office space in the sense of having its own ecology, then you’ll begin to see how the non-living components dynamically interact and stimulate the living components, thus improving or hindering essentially the entire operation and culture of your business. This ecology communicates a message, and over time, this message trains workers into a certain way of thinking and behavior (for better or for worse). Every business owner and office manager should be aware of this (and they likely are on at least a subconscious level), but the principles of office ecology can really make a big difference when one moves from awareness to an aggressive approach to using the non-living components as a means to enhance productivity, promote synergy, and reinforce company values.
If you’ve never before viewed your office in this light, then take some time to reflect about your current setup and what changes you can make to improve operations. To help you out, begin by asking the following five questions:
How is the office arranged and what values does this communicate?
If your office is just a haphazard grouping of random pieces of discount furniture and little thought to how everything is situated, then you’re communicating to your staff that the time they spend in the office isn’t all that important. Whereas an office with matching furniture that’s meticulously arranged communicates that the work taking place in this environment should also be meticulous and presentable.
What is central in the room? What is peripheral?
In the same way that a home’s living room arranged around a television communicates a family’s affinity for entertainment, so too does what’s prominently display in your office communicate what is most important to your company.
Does the room layout encourage individual performance or collaboration?
An extreme example of this is seen in the classic debate of cubicles vs the open office. It’s also important to consider how placing different departments and workers near each other will enhance or hinder collaboration efforts.
Additionally, think through your policy regarding personal decorations for employees. An office that allows workers to decorate their workspace to reflect their personalities will yield a much different workplace dynamic than an office where personal decorations are restricted or banned entirely. If you’re looking to encourage employee decorations, then you can take a cue from some businesses that go so far as to offer a small stipend for workers to purchase their own decorations (plants, desktop flair, artwork, etc.), as long as they bring in a receipt.
Does the room communicate one group’s values over another?
Every company has a leadership structure, and it’s no secret that some departments do work that gets more accolades than the work of other departments. How you arrange your office either reinforces this reality or puts everyone on a level playing field. For example, an office where managers have more floor space and better furniture than the rest of the staff communicates the importance of their authority to those who are given less. Whereas a workplace where managers work alongside their peers communicates the value of teamwork.
You can also display department accolades and company wins for the entire staff to see. Displaying testimonials, case studies, and “walls of fame” are all good ways to motivate and showcase company values.
How is technology used?
If employees are given technology that’s outdated and slow, it communicates that you don’t value their work enough to care whether or not they’re being as productive as they can be. For example, you may have a staff meeting and give a grand speech about why everyone should work harder, but if your staff goes back to their crappy workstations and experience downtime and network lag, your words will be meaningless.
What message is your company’s technology communicating to your staff? Austin Technology Group can help you upgrade your equipment and provide technology that inspires maximum efficiency.
So what’s the ecology of your office like? What measures have you enacted to equip your staff with the tools and office layout they need to do their best work? Share with us how you approach your office in the comments below, and call Austin Technology Group at (512) 494-6978 to learn more about how the technology in your office can make a big difference when it comes to the climate and productivity of your organization.