Office spring cleaning?

We often get caught up in routine. We seem to like waking up every day, going to work, using the same systems and tools, and going to sleep just to do the same thing the next day. We sit in the same seats; we talk to the same people; we eat at the same restaurants. However, there is a certain benefit to evaluating these routines. Why not engage in some “spring cleaning” for these office systems? If you start to ask the question of why we do things this way, more often than not we discover we do them because that’s how we’ve always done them.

This spring, take the opportunity to look at how your office runs: how do you maintain your filing systems? What is the chain of command? How are the desks arranged? Even if you decide that everything runs smoothly and effectively in your office, you can at least check the box that you seriously considered how to improve your office this season.

Rethinking Space

The way in which your office is set up can play a large part in determining the success of your company. An article on CEO Space by Benny suggests that the cleanliness of your office determines the effectiveness of your workers as well as how your clients perceive your business. Ranging from “nerd haven”, “tidy tender”, and “obsessive compulsive” to “laissez-faire” and “pig sty specialist”, the organization of your office can either help or hurt your productivity. Taking time this spring to figure out how your office operates in terms of tidiness could make serious improvements in your business with minimal work required.

While experimenting with cleanliness, you should also try out new desk patterns. Depending on the size and layout of your office, you could have mines of untapped potential simply within your workspace arrangement. Tim Harford did a study to look at the effect of different office layouts on both how much workers got done and how they felt about it. This experiment tried four separate setups with varying placements and add-ons (like artwork and plants). In the end, the employees responded best to the empowered layout, which allowed them to arrange their desks with decorations as they pleased. The group with the empowered layout was more productive and improved morale while the other groups tended to “disliked the office space, they also disliked the company that was hosting it, and they disliked the task they were doing in it. It may be helpful to have your employees take a personality assessment to determine what kind of work environment works best for them. Allowing your employees to move and decorate their desks could be a great spring cleaning activity in your office that would improve employee enthusiasm and efficiency.

Employee and Employer Benefit

Studies like the one by Harford show us that employee participation in office management will not only make employees happier, but it will also improve productivity. Often times, employees provide a new pair of eyes for the everyday. They are in the thick of it, so they can see things that go wrong or things that could be better. Asking for the help of your employees, whether it is with office layout, communication systems, or any office system, will alleviate work on your part while encouraging your employees to be more invested in the work you all do together. Asking for employee opinions will help ensure that employees know they have a voice that is respected and encouraged, which improves employee satisfaction and even employee retention. Talk with your management teams to figure out more ways to get your employees involved in your office spring cleaning this season.Woman holding cleaning supplies

Employee participation will also reestablish the hierarchy within the office, which is often helpful to encourage employees on levels that they play a role in the work your business does. Jeffery Hayzlett wrote an article that suggested higher level management should be willing to get down to do the day-to-day work, just like the everyday employees in your business. The best way for leaders to avoid big egos and lack of connectivity with followers is to “leaders to remember to pick up the garbage now and then.” Inviting employees to participate with management in fundamental structure evaluations puts all workers on the same playing field, establishing stronger respect and greater connection within the office. Therefore, everyone benefits: employees, employers, management, clients, and profits!

What next?

With all of the potential for improvement in your office this spring, put the theory to the test. Set up one time for an office “clean up” day. It can be a whole day, a weekend, or even just an afternoon. Use this time to include your employees in figuring out how things are done, why they are done that way, and what could be done to make it better. Maybe you want to move the desks around or move from an alphabetical filing system to numerical. Empower the folks who do the work to take ownership of how your company is doing. The worst that could happen is that your office decides it will continue to run the same. The best that could happen would be a major shift in office thinking that improves employee moral, communication, and overall company profits and productivity.

Upgrade the employee experience and you will improve employee satisfaction, which ultimately boosts employee retention. These benefits are likely to spill over into customer satisfaction and customer retention as well! That’s a bet I’m willing to take. Updating the office can enhance life for employees and clients, while elevating overall company dealings. A new broom sweeps clean!

Kelly Spencer – Content Creator

Created in partnership with Furman University.

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