For business owners, the old adage is true: time really is money. So it makes sense that you’d be interested in doing whatever you possibly can to minimize common time-wasters and enhance productivity. The best place to begin is at the beginning, with your office design. Make a few smart choices when you’re planning the office layout, and you’ll save loads of time and effort getting folks back to work later. Here are a few of our favorite tips.
1. Give People Privacy
If you want to make sure people waste time, set them up so that they can hear every cough, sneeze, and conversation about reality TV in the cubicles adjoining their office space. This is especially tricky for businesses which have opted for the new, open plan office designs. What they give in collaboration and space, they sometimes take away in privacy and sound proofing.
If you go this route, make sure you’re carefully considering the needs of each individual worker. Put people with chatty jobs together, and workers who need to be heads-down by themselves. And consider investing in sound-masking equipment. A little white noise goes a long way.
2. But Not Too Much Privacy
Non-work-related internet use has replaced the water cooler as the time waster of choice in most offices. While it’s a good idea to give people access to private spaces for meetings and special projects, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging accountability by making people’s screens more visible to their colleagues. There’s no better inducement for leaving the fantasy sports teams for off-hours than the peering eyes of coworkers.
3. Minimize Meetings
Offer lots of smaller conference spaces, so that people can get together for brainstorming sessions, but minimize the big meeting spaces. This discourages people from planning unnecessary powwows — something that productivity experts agree is a huge drain on most workers’ time.
4. Invest in Good Equipment
Computer problems account for a lot of wasted time at work, and offer the least in the way of recharging workers’ batteries. (Hey, at least while people are looking at their fantasy sports teams, they’re clearing their minds for the next task.) Make sure your workers have computers and devices that really work.
5. Create a Space to Eat Lunch
You don’t need a full-scale cafeteria, but a having a place that’s dedicated to eating and socializing will minimize the chatter — and crumbs — that eating at their desks creates. It will also keep your employees from feuding over whose soup is creating which smell. If you want happy workers, you’ll provide a place to eat — and plenty of places where eating is discouraged. And another perk … this will also keep your office free from mice and other unwanted guests.