Managing office efficiency requirements must take the form of a multi-pronged approach. This is because office efficiency relies upon several areas all working in harmony with each other. Whether that be office workflow and the integration of both in-house and remotely working staff, a company policy of data security and security clearance, or a business plan outlining targets for the coming year, the efficient daily running of a business requires each different area of planning to be coordinated with the next. This is just as important as planning the intangible elements of the business operations, from an upcoming GDPR audit to expected future expansion.
And what unites panning in each of these areas is that it is done most efficiently when employees are involved in the process. The best way to involve employees is by surveys and meetings at the planning stage of office management, and then with effectively disseminating planning information afterwards. The goal is for everybody to be on board, and clear about immediate targets and working regulations. And the best way to ensure this is to have them involved from the start.
One of the ways to do this is to create documents outlining company policy in each of these areas and then ensuring they are read and signed by all employees. This can be particularly important in the case of data security policy and safety protocol. Each can be summarised in a document that is then distributed among employees. It is this level of coordination with employees at each stage that ensures a company-wide familiarity how each working day proceeds and what working for the company entails.
When it comes to planning office space, taking employees into account is essential. One of the primary functions of an office is that it must accommodate the staff that work there. This involves costs and is the reason several companies – especially since the pandemic and the following surge in remote working – have realised the savings to be made in limiting an in-house team. More employees working in the office simply entails more costs, and so there is an incentive to properly optimise the space, to make the most cost-effective use of what is available, and to tailor it to the people that work there.
For this reason, hosting a company meeting and asking employees for input on what office features they particularly need and what they can do without can lead to serious improvements in the efficiency of an in-house workforce. If a common familiarity with company targets can be kept clearly in mind (and this underscores the importance of making them clear to all employees), then opinions regarding which kind of office space would best facilitate them should be fairly unanimous among employees.
If, for example, the current number of photocopiers is insufficient for the current workload, then there should be a near-unanimous opinion among employees that this is the case. After all, they are the ones being held up in queues nearly every time the machine needs to be used.
Aesthetic vs Functional
An office needs to be an environment that can effectively facilitate an efficient workflow. However, it also needs to be an environment that inspires one too. This means that the planning of office space will typically involve the integration of both aesthetic and functional concerns. Again, employees are the people to ask here, as it should be a unanimous opinion if an office does not inspire efficient working for either functional or aesthetic reasons. It could be, for example, that there are too few spaces for group working and private collaboration (functional) or that having the main arrangement of desks facing a wall with no windows is dispiriting (aesthetic). The two can also overlap, as a lack of aesthetic consideration in office planning can indirectly lead to a drop in productivity.
Some Suggestions for Effective Office Space Management
So, keeping the golden rule in mind that the best way to manage an office space is to consult the people who work there and plan with a mind to increasing their ability to do their job, there are a range of general rules that can be followed. Here are a few tips on office space management:
Get Rid of Uncomfortable Furniture
We have mentioned how failure to consider aesthetic concerns can lead to an uncomfortable environment for employees. But employees can also be physically uncomfortable thanks to furniture that is a strain to use all day long. The reason the most advanced ergonomic furniture is associated with offices is that this is really where it is needed most. If an employee is to spend hours each day in an office, there really can’t be any compromise on how comfortable it is to do so. So ditch the back-straining plastic chairs and be sure to invest in comfortable workstations for your employees.
Pay Heed to Technological Requirements
Before you can redesign an office space with aesthetic appeal and comfort in mind, you need to consider that proximity to certain office equipment and technology is necessary for certain employees. If your redesign of the office floor space sees printers placed at the opposite end of the office from the workstations of employees who need to use them, then it is time to reconsider. Always consider the technology that everybody needs to work efficiently, and plan accordingly.
Pay Attention to Lighting and Heating
The correct lighting in an office space can have a massive effect on employee performance. Lighting is known to improve productivity, mood, and well-being and it is therefore incredibly important that you get this right in your office plan. Heating is also important, for more obvious reasons. Employee discomfort is sure to lead to a drop in productivity. Any concerns in these two areas are likely to be clearly voiced by employees if they are consulted at the planning stage.
Plan for Growth
If your employee workforce is set to expand, then this is very likely to involve a complete replanning of office space – and the potential to add more. Recent trends towards increased remote working might mean that this is not an issue, but any significant expansion in company size or operations at a specific location is sure to add employees. And accounting for the space they will need is a terrific way to make your office space ready for success.
Ultimately, office space planning comes down to combining a concern for the functional and the aesthetic, and closely involving the very people that will be using the space.