Tips for Making Employees Love Their Office

Inc Magazine published this great article below– Providing basics like flexibility and organized environments can go a long way with employees. These elements help to create a happier more productive workplace.

You take your staff on kayaking trips. You order pizza for meetings. But who cares about the occasional extras if your workers aren’t delighted to be in their workspace day-in and day-out? We reviewed the best in office amenities and policies recently covered in Inc.and on for the highlights of companies making their offices into places their employees love coming to in the morning.

1. Stay organized.
Whether it’s business plans or business cards, conference binders or marketing copy, entrepreneurs have a lot of information to track. But with so many important managerial matters on your plate, it’s hard to put a tidy workspace high on your priority list. Who knows that better than the employees who work in a disorganized or cluttered office? Their productivity and motivation can suffer when everyone’s not on the same page about where important information, tools, and supplies can be found. Laura Leist, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers, which is based in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, explains: “When you’re talking about organizing your workspace you need to make a decision about what needs to be organized and there’s five areas that you can look at.” These five areas are paper, general stuff such as office supplies, your space and furniture layout, electronic information, and time management. Read more.

2. Make it comfy.
“Designing a comfortable office environment is about more than aesthetics; careful attention to design can give a boost to employee happiness. In the current economy, the focus is often on leasing office space based on price, with less attention paid to design, layout and amenities. Smart business leaders, however, think beyond the existing layout and furniture options when moving into a new office or refurbishing a space. That fresh coat of paint and new carpet your landlord gave you when you signed the lease is great, but there are other small investments of time and money that can transform your office into a more productive workspace,” writes Lois Goodell,principal and the director of interior design at CBT Architects, in an guide on creating a productive office environment.In short, making a comfortable environment takes more than a sturdy desk and comfortable chair – it incorporates quality lighting, good ventilation, and a quality heating-and-cooling system. Read more

3. Give everyone a say.
It’s an extreme example, but when Thomas Walter, CEO of Tasty Catering in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, encountered Jim Collins's Good to Great, he asked each of his employees to read it. Inc. editor-at-large Leigh Buchanan writes: “Tasty Catering formed two Good to Great councils, which make all strategic decisions for the company. Each council has eight charter members drawn from across the company—culinary workers, clerical staff, drivers. One council conducts business in English, the other in Spanish, which is the first language for about a third of the work force. At least one of the three owners—Walter and his two brothers—sits in with each group. The councils hold meetings a few days apart, and an outside translator produces copies of the combined minutes in both languages. Each month, two random employees are chosen to join the councils for the month.” She quotes Anna Wollin, an account executive who joined one of the councils when they were formed, who says: “It puts us all on an even playing field. I had been with the company less than a year, and my opinion was as important as an owner’s opinion.” Read more.  

4. Consider openness.
It’s not right for every team of workers, but the trend today is to support collaboration, in all its forms: mentoring, problem solving, routine communication and information sharing. Goodell writes: “To do so, create more open spaces in the office, from workspaces with low panels that make it easier to communicate to all-day cafés where employees not only eat, but also meet to work.” It’s also important to consider what happens when someone in a large open office environment needs to concentrate on a big project or lead a conference call. Open spaces only work when employees have access to areas where they can focus on a specific task. One solution is “hoteling,” offices that can be reserved or used at will when needed. These offices can be small, but should be highly functional. They should be equipped with good lighting, phone systems and technology necessary to complete critical tasks. Read more

5. Make the workplace a community.
In this year’s Top Small Company Workplaces, Leigh Buchanan interviewed Bill Witherspoon about his open-book management and leadership style at Sky Factory. His employees not only love the clear and open communication structure, but also love helping each other. Witherspoon explains why: “I think of our factory as a community, and service is the core of community. There are two kinds of service. One is: I do this for you, and I expect a return. For example, I provide good customer service, and I expect loyalty. The other kind of service is selfless. I do something for you without thought of a return. I help you spontaneously and without thinking about it. That second kind of service is powerful. When someone has a moment of free time, how wonderful if she automatically thinks, Now, what can I do to help someone else? At the start of our Friday meetings, the leader for that week tells an appreciative story about someone at the company and presents the person with $25. Often, the story involves an unselfish, unsolicited offer of help." Read more