We asked Anil Stoker a UK based Sage Business Expert to advise us on what makes the perfect office space, physical and virtual and how you can satisfy your employees and yourself.
The perfect formula for staff satisfaction, functionality, productivity and flexibility in the work space is like a holy grail for small businesses.
Is working from home right for your business? How can you maximise space in a small office? Will the office environment impact on the energy of your team?
Once you start to understand how the office environment can influence and stimulate human senses the investment that needs to be made in the place that you work will probably seem more worthwhile.
There is an intrinsic link between environment, positivity and daily output increase – it’s much easier to feel motivated if your work environment indicates that your employer considers you worth investing in.
Location, layout and logistics.
You don’t have to be fanatical about Feng Shui to realise that the physical layout of your office is important. The feeling of ‘Zen’ in your office is almost certainly impacted on by whether or not it lends itself to the different types of activities that are needed. Areas for collaborative working, quiet spaces, meetings and down time are all functions that you should consider including in your plan. If the printer is three floors away from the people that print the most it’s bound to have a negative impact.
Comfort is the number one factor affecting productivity. Ensuring that the temperature of your office is spot on is pretty vital. In fact cooler office climates are the top reason for the afternoon slump. Unfortunately the elusive ‘comfortable’ state is of course different for each individual, but a study by Cornell University showed that below 20°c, errors increase and typing speed slows but with an increase to just 25°c, typing errors fell 44% and typing output jumped by 150%.
Lighting is another major influence on the comfort of a workspace. Increased exposure to artificial light can dramatically affect sleepiness. Scientists have found evidence that artificial light causes drowsiness as a direct result of our bodies becoming unsynchronised with the sun – if you can, the best solution is to avoid fluorescent lighting. Tricky in most office spaces, we know – so a more practical answer is to maximise the levels of daylight in your office and encourage your staff to up their exposure to sunlight by going for a stroll during the day.
Postcode wars it may not be but there are undeniably areas of greater desirability in every town or city – sought after areas indicative of success in a certain field. Think Silicon Valley in San Fran or The Square Mile finance hub or Silicon Roundabout in London. Different areas of a city become the must have locations for certain business types. The gravitas this can deliver your business is worth a buck or two but it’s also worth considering what’s available in the area- perceptions of your business and brand can be heavily skewed or enhanced by location. If it’s all independent shops and cafés that’s ideal for attracting edgy tech savvy clients and employees. A plusher more chain-restaurant filled high street can convey a slicker, more corporate company image.
But what if your ideal location is starting to sound rather costly?
Maybe you want a presence in a certain neighbourhood or expansion to a new area but don’t have the financial capacity for a whole new office.
The answer? Take a virtual office that will provide you with a mailing address, telephone answering service and usually hot desks and access to meeting rooms. The latest trend in virtual office space can benefit many kinds of businesses including Start-ups, freelance and home office users or businesses with growth aspirations.
These days virtual doesn’t need to just be about office space, the cloud makes all sorts of services more available and has completely disrupted the conventional vision of office infrastructure. Increased availability of cloud software has meant that you now have the best of both- flexible, mobile working with a fixed address in your desired location but potentially your employees can be based from anywhere, their homes, other regions or on the move. Cloud technology means that everything they need is still accessible off site.
Adopting a package such as Office 365, whose tagline is, suitably, ‘Your go-to Office- anywhere’ means that you can grant multiple users access to programs and saved company documents in any location – with up to 1TB of storage in the cloud, more than most individuals would ever need.
The importance of creating a physical environment that promotes productivity and happiness is certainly as strong as ever. With motivation intrinsically linked to the working environment investment in ensuring that the space you run your business from is working at its best is well worth it.
The success of cloud technology has led to the advent of more mobile, flexible office spaces and has brought a new opportunity to the floor. A world where working from home no longer means struggling to communication by phone or email, where truly it has become easier to ‘work anywhere’. Flexible working packages are becoming increasingly common and if some members of staff really do work as well at home or need to be on the move, cloud technology now means it’s a viable option for those staff who perhaps have a long commute or family commitments.