Office design hacks for improved productivity

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When we moved office recently, I was determined to make it much better than the old premises. Not that there was anything wrong with them, but I simply wanted to have the new space work for us and help us be better at what we do. We had a staff meeting before the move, and a ton of ideas was flying around about how to organize the space, how to light it, how to decorate, and so on.

While I can’t actually show you what it looks like yet, here are a few of the trick we employed to make our new office inspire more productivity and make us better at what we do.

Work vs. play

The first thing we all agreed on was that we needed a space for not working. We’ve never had a lounge area, so this was the first room that we all agreed we needed. There are no Playstations and X-Boxes though. We have a bookshelf where we leave books for others to read and a wide variety of magazines (most of them non-work related), a table that can seat half our number and an espresso machine. Don’t confuse the lounge area with the kitchen – we have that too.

However, we also decided to use the outdoor space we have acquired to its fullest – and we decided to build a deck for proper lounging. We won’t be able to use it quite yet of course, but a beer on the deck on a summer Friday sounds just about right. We also plan on installing a mini soccer field, where some of the guys can blow off steam.

Meetings vs. work

In our old space, we used to hold meetings in whose ever office could hold the required number of people. Let me tell you, that was awful. Someone was always being kicked out of their office and had to migrate someplace else to work, and we could never sit down properly, which meant half the people always wanted the meeting to last as little as possible.

We now have a meeting room that fits all of us and a calendar on the door where you can book meetings. Needless to say, the writers are in there at least twice a week, and sales and marketing have a by-weekly get-together. What I can tell you right now is that our content has never been better, and I feel that facilitating conversation has a lot to do with it.

Work vs. privacy

We were all dead set against cubicles – so no one has an office to themselves, including me. However, we have three offices, actually glorified closet spaces, where you can go to work on your own, if need be. There is a similar reservation system in place, in the sense that you have to mark the room as occupied, and you can’t stay in there all day. I feel some people can perform certain tasks much better when they are alone, and allowing them to have that space has been a huge win.

Work vs. clutter

Working with creatives means having a bunch of post-its on walls, insane amounts of paper strew about the place, and general clutter everywhere. We decided not to let that happen again. We now have one desk in the kitchen for the clutter – all offices are tidy and neat for the moment. Each office also has their own signature plant, and all of them have names too. The team needs to take good care of them, naturally. We’ve also had some of the staff suggest candles and reed diffusers, but we have not gotten that far yet. We have also debated music vs. white noise, but that has been left to each individual office to agree on. Somehow they have mostly managed to tune into the same radio station.

Individuals vs. the company

Our main goal was to reflect who we are as a group, and who our individual employees are. That meant a lot of discussions about colors, motifs and decoration, but we feel we have done a great job. Above each desk, we have a frame housing something special to the person who rules that space. Mostly we have quotes and inspirational sayings, as well as guitar riffs and cats in a bucket.

While I am by no means opposed to individualities penetrating office space, I feel that too much of a personal touch can be distracting, which is why we agreed on the minimalistic. So far, it has worked out great.

Company culture

The main thing we wanted to change was the way we ate our meals. Some used to eat them at their desk, others in our former kitchen, standing by the sink, but we now have a group meal once a week, where we all get to sit down, and even if we do end up talking about the project at hand, it still helps take our minds off work for an hour.

We are also debating having someone actually cook these meals, which would also be immense fun considering some of the guys probably can’t boil a kettle, but that is yet to be determined.

 

My key takeaway from the entire moving process is that the space you work in can have an insane impact on the way you work, and that you can’t just decorate the office based on what you read online boosts productivity. Your team should be the one who decides on the décor, the wall colors, everything. After all, they will be the ones who spend a third of their day there, and they need to feel comfortable. If you impose something on them, it will most likely backfire.

Sit down with your team, have a conversation about sprucing up the office in a way that will make them feel better about their job, and take it from there. Simple things like plants and cups can do wonders, more than you would imagine.

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