Office space is one of the most important aspects of the working environment - it shapes your company culture and identity and defines the communication within your business. But if your business is at the stage where you're scaling up but you can't quite afford the shift to bigger premises, what should you do? We asked Complete Office Search, providers of serviced offices in London to firms of all varieties, about how to maximise your existing office space.
You spend more time in the office than you do at home, so the office is often a kind of second home for your employees. When you think about it like this, you realise the significance and the influence of maximising your office space to get the best you can out of your business.
As a business you need to prioritise the working environment as employees notably link their surroundings to job satisfaction, which is, in turn, linked to employee engagement.
As a small business it is likely that you also can only afford a small office. A small space can be more challenging in some ways, but ultimately employee engagement isn’t down to money alone - it’s the feeling and vibe in the office that you create that makes the difference. You can work in a large but rather austere state-of-the-art office and be uncomfortable and unhappy.
Comfort is clearly a key factor, whatever the size of your office space. So, what elements make up a comfortable office space?
- A degree of privacy (open-plan offices can lower job satisfaction)
- A social or breakout area to encourage office friendships
- An area to work quietly
- Meeting rooms for teamwork
- Natural daylight
- A convenient office location with good transport links
- Temperature control
The perfect office has space where people can work alone quietly, but also encourages collaboration and work friendships. Not much to ask for a small office! How on earth do you manage this tricky balance in a small space?
Here are some tips for maximising the small office space that you have:
Ask your staff what they need and want
The office space is for your staff, so it makes sense to ask them what they need, rather than second-guess. Maximising the office space should be a collaborative effort as it is inhabited by the whole team
Ask your employees what drinks and snacks they would like, what colour scheme, what music they would like, whether they would like a darts board for break times or whether they’d love more comfortable chairs.
Less is more in a small space. With less clutter and minimalist furniture you will create the feeling of more space, and it will be less cramped and oppressive.
Consider the layout
How you arrange the desks in your office greatly impacts the meeting of minds, connection of ideas, and creative spark.
You can arrange the desks in a number of ways, with different benefits:
- In rows facing each other for ease of communication
- Desk dividers for privacy
- Groups of four for collaboration
- In rotating pairs for mixing teams up
- A circular arrangement for facetime with everyone for problem-solving and discussion
A round table
A round table in the corner of the room creates a mini-boardroom set up where staff members can all face each other for an inclusive feeling.
There are recommendations for ‘stand-up meetings’ in small spaces, but this seems like a highly awkward idea and not practical at all. If you don’t have room for a permanent table, invest in a collapsible one that can simply be stored against a wall. This is a more professional option than people chatting while perched with difficulty on their desks
Maximise flexibility in your small office with furniture that is on wheels or collapsible. You may need to move furniture around in your office due to lack of space, but you can capitalise on the movement as it enables better communication between your staff. If you need to work with another team on a project, just pull up a desk and roll over!
Take the meeting outside
As children we begged our teachers to have a lesson outside, and things haven’t changed as adults! If your small office is feeling stuffy or claustrophobic, take the meeting outside to the local park to enable some refreshed creativity. A local coffee shop might be a good option if the weather is bad.
You will return to the office feeling rejuvenated and rolling your sleeves up to get stuck into actioning the points from the meeting.
Creative and media agencies are known for their love of quirky offices, making for fun working spaces which reflect the innovation that their clients are paying them for.
However, personality shouldn’t only be the domain of the creative professionals - anyone working or visiting a bland space is likely to be feel apathetic towards the environment and therefore the company. Simple things like statement walls with different wallpaper, funky lighting and framed prints can make all the difference.
A whiteboard is not only useful for brainstorming and meeting targets - it also creates an office focal point and encourages staff to get up from their desks and actively share ideas
Strategic colour and space
Remember that light colours are important to make a small space feel bigger - so choose white furniture over dark colours. High ceilings are said to encourage creativity, and low ceilings are preferable for analytical work.
The good news is that just because your office is small, it doesn’t mean that employee comfort should be sacrificed. In fact, small spaces have some plus points - office friendships will be easier to initiate and it easier to cultivate a home-from-home atmosphere - thereby increasing productivity! Finding ways in which to maximise your office space should be fun for everyone.
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