Thinking of Building the Right Office For Your Startup? Here’s What You Need to Know

Being an entrepreneur is not easy. The long hours, the work you need to pick up, hell, even the loneliness. But, there are certain landmarks, certain milestones that can really show you that you are on the right track. No matter how banal, or simple, or some would even call trite, you understand what they are and why they matter.

So, imagine just seeing your name on an office. The name of your company, something you prouder your heart and soul into, and there it is. A start-up’s office is a concrete, real evidence that you are moving in the right direction. Furthermore, it’s gonna be your home for quite some time. If you want to push through and achieve real success, well, expect a couple of sleepless nights at the desk. So why not make that desk, and the big concrete box surrounding it, as pleasant as possible?

But, you need to set things up right, and set them up soon. There are many ways you can do this, and while the final choice is up to you, below are some tips you can keep in mind. We of course know that this is something you have been dreaming for ages – what entrepreneur hasn’t already planned out the perfect office in his or her mind. But, of course, reality always sets in.

 

Baby steps

However, this ended up sounding grim, but it’s anything but. These are the great growing stages of your company. You get new employees, you have different sections, areas and departments. Change is coming, and you need to make room for it. You start with just a few members, but soon end up with who knows how many.

But, the grim factors here are money and rules. First, you will need to set up a proper plan. Then, budget everything up, contact good contractors, get good roofers, plumbers, electricians. Of course, you need to find the right location, figure out how to market everything, what to do, who to call… So, what to do first?
Furthermore, you need to get the proper licenses. All inspections, every inch of the place needs to be up to code. Are you renting or buying, or building? If you’re building, contact another entrepreneurial company, like Jonishan civil contractors in Sydney. Of course, if you’re nowhere near Sydney, you should still consider hiring “local talent”. Medium and small-sized companies and startups are in a realm of their own, and you’d be surprised by just how much better they are when compared to mega-corporations.

Space is everything

 

We understand that a startup setting up a new office doesn’t really have the funds to buy a renovated castle. However, the last thing you want is for your people to feel cramped, and for the workstations to start suffocating them.

So, in some areas you compromise, some you completely write off, and for some, well, either be laxer or get more money. Many architects advise that you have a dedicated meeting room, as well as a kitchen and dining area. However, try to set things up in such a manner that if there are any differing parents that they are close together. Don’t divide them with the break room, keep them close. This will facilitate better communication, and will nurture intercompany relations.

Remember that if you are working with clients, that you place the reception area away from the actual workroom. You don’t want your employees losing their concentration. A good layout would be something like this, from left to right: work area, break room and bathrooms, and then the reception area. You can reach the reception area either through a small hall, or directly through the break room, depending on your means.

You are free

A bit of a corny subheading, we know, but bear with us. You are a startup. Not MegaCorp TM. You have a lot of freedom and room to maneuver. You can choose to do what is the most efficient and, quite honestly, fun. As long as your people are doing their job, and doing it well, making them feel better is just a big perk. For example, you don’t need to have a robotic cubicle area. Why not have lazy bags, exercise ball chairs, specialized furniture… You can even invest in a self-serve kitchen in the break room

The point here is to do what is right for you, and your employees. Of course, the reception area should be as serious and as professional as your profession needs it to be. But on the other hand, quite honestly, why not have some extra freedom?

You are not supposed to impress your investors with your office. Sure, a clean, upscale building does signify that you are successful, that you know what you are doing. But what goes inside this building that is up to you and your team. They should be impressed by the products and services you provide, and the manner in which you provide them. Anything more is just being greedy.

 

 

 

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7 Design Tips For Your Startup Office

Workspace is not merely the place where people work, but it is a microcosm of its own. The design of an office space is by all means not trivial, especially for startups. For them, every little detail can make or break the newly founded company. Office space design can be used not only to boost productivity but the much-needed creativity which guarantees that the product or service provided by the startup will be a hit in the market. We have compiled a list of 7 design tips that you can use for your startup.

Colors

Choosing the right overall color is interior design one-on-one. When it comes to office space, then mild colors are the way to go. You can choose a shade to your liking, even orange or yellow. However, don’t implement tacky colors as they will distract the employees from the work beforehand. The safest option would be the color grey and all of its numerous shades. This can be coupled with brown furniture or black and white wallpapers.

Plants

Although office space is usually located in an urban area, that does mean that nature is unwelcome here. There should be plants all around the office if nothing, then at least small potted ones. If you really wish to make the space verdant, then use climbers that can be placed near window areas. They will act are sculptural ornaments and help the employees relax by reducing stress levels. This increases productivity and has many more benefits for the workforce.

Plenty of light

Placing plants in the office will ensure there is enough air, but there should be plenty of light as well. If the office is way high up in a skyscraper, make use of this by keeping the window panes unobstructed. Dim spaces make the workers sleepy or moody which is not the effect you want to achieve. Also, try not to pile up stuff inside the office since the impression of spaciousness and airiness is lost.

Mats

Your office should be trendy and modern. Believe it or not, but floor mats are the latest trend, so make sure they are in front of every door. Their sole purpose is not only wiping feet, but there are anti-slip and anti-fatigue mats as well. If the workspace is dangerous in any way, you might consider placing these around the hazardous area. Also, you can order personalized mats that the best employees could choose the design for each month, for example.

Books

Walls can be perceived as canvases for artwork, but there is an even better way to cover them. Order customized shelves that will be stocked up with books, and a lot of them. This will add to the uniqueness of the space and individuality you wish to develop in your employees. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to peruse through the books they like during the pauses. If you have trouble acquiring the books in large quantities, go to the local library, books are written off all the time. Some of them are even vintage-bound, which is another design point to adhere to.

Vintage and modern

If the office is all vintage styled, then you are turning it into a lounge for hipsters and not much work will be done. On the other hand, if it’s all modern, then it becomes too sterile for any creative work to be carried out. The answer is not in the extremes but in the balance between vintage and modern elements that will add a touch of luxury to the space.

The meeting room

So far, we haven’t discussed particular rooms inside the office. The reception desk and lounge areas have their importance, but it is the meeting room that should receive the most attention. This is the places where important decisions are made and where productivity and creativity should reach their peak. Design this room separately by choosing different colors and furnishing it differently from the rest of the office. If possible, make it more luxurious as well.

From the color palette to wall decorations, a startup office should be all about balance. Interior design should reflect the work-life balance you wish to accomplish in your employees. This way they will have a chance to be creative and show their full potential. Properly decorating the office space should be an integral part of any startup’s business strategy.

The Correlation Between Office Design & Productivity

Productivity is a fickle little thing and if you’re not careful, one bad decision can ruin all your efforts of making your workplace a thriving, fruitful community. Everything, including your office design, has to create an optimal atmosphere for getting work done, and dim, cluttered spaces certainly won’t cut it. But there is more to it than just keeping the space neat and organized. Studies have shown that many other factors matter – and they affect not only how productive you are but also your health and well-being. So let’s see some of the factors of office design that are related to the productivity of employees.

Office design plan

Several studies concluded that the layout of the office is of the essence. However, the tricky part is that the “best” office plan varies from company to company. You have to weigh your objectives, priorities, your company culture and a slew of other factors when deciding on the layout. If work in your office requires a lot of communication among your employees on a daily basis, your company might benefit from having an open floor plan that encourages teamwork. On the other hand, for companies where employees have to focus in order not to make mistakes in their work, the same plan would drive everyone mad, not to mention completely diminish productivity and ultimately be detrimental to the whole business. Thus, you have to think carefully about what the needs of your business and your employees are and plan accordingly.

Noise and lighting

There are some things you can control about your office, and there are some you simply can’t. Noise is a serious detrimental factor to productivity and morale. If your office has been blessed by being located in a quiet neighborhood, outside noise is not a problem for you. If not, however, you might want to turn to some soundproofing solutions to reduce the distraction the surrounding traffic or nearby construction work creates. Noise-canceling headphones work well too, also for those employees who share their workspace but are distracted by others talking etc. As for lighting, it’s another one of the top three environmental factors affecting productivity. Natural light is, of course, the best since it has a positive effect on mood, resulting in better productivity. If you don’t have plenty of that, you can make up for it with appropriate (preferably layered) artificial lights to keep your employees awake and alert.

Ergonomic furniture

The comfort of your employees is another major factor that affects their productivity levels – and also health. Palm rests and screen support for those working on the computer will prevent pain in their neck and wrists, so the morale remains high in the office. Even more importantly, ergonomic desks and chairs are essential in preventing back pain and all the health consequences it will bring. Nothing diminishes productivity like an aching back, and finding quality office chairs in Sydney, New York, or anywhere else in the world is a walk in the park, so don’t skip this step. Moreover, a designated place with comfortable furniture such as sofas or lazy bags where employees can take a break and relax can also give them a boost. Lounging for a couple of minutes and taking their mind off work and their eyes off screen will renew their energy supplies to finish their tasks.

Equipment

One of the most frustrating things in an office is old, malfunctioning equipment. Having to spend ten minutes getting the printer to work or waiting for a page to load not only slows down your employees but it’s also annoying and will destroy the creative mood they were in and disrupt their workflow. Invest in up-to-date, high-quality equipment if you want to prevent this from taking a toll on your business’s productivity. Something as little as faster Wi-Fi will do wonders, but it’s also possible you’ll need to make a bigger investment, such as buying new laptops better suited to what your employees do.

Embracing biophilic design

An all-around approach that should be considered by all business owners is implementing elements of biophilic design into their offices. Basically, all of the aforementioned positive changes, including plenty of light and ergonomic furniture are important elements of biophilia, but there are so many more fronts on which you could take advantage of this nature-centric approach and give a boost to your employees’ productivity. If your office has not been blessed by a scenic view (let’s face it, few have), it is your job to bring nature in and elevate the mood. Green office spaces “generate physiological responses such as increased brain activity and lower stress hormones”, so it’s more than clear that a couple of potted plants or, if you want to go big, a living wall or a green roof can double productivity if implemented right. Don’t underestimate the power of nature and humans’ connection to it.

 

In today’s competitive market, employers need to make the most of what they have in order to stay afloat. Maximizing productivity in your workplace through office design is not a huge investment, but it will hugely reflect on how your business is doing. Takes these pieces of advice and your office productivity will soon thrive.

9 Actionable Tips for Hiring Employees for Your Home Office

Consider yourself lucky if you have the good fortune of being able to run and build your business from home. When the business is new, you might be the only person working for it. However, as it begins to grow and expand, you might need to hire employees. Hiring an employee for your home office is as challenging as finding the right roommate. The following tips can help you sidestep a lot of issues.

1. Discuss With Your Family

You never know how your family might react to the prospect of having a stranger share their private space. It is important to discuss with them from the get-go so that they know what to expect. Have them understand that the person is an employee and not a guest. Be sure to mention that they will not need to feed the person or have to make other inconveniencing arrangements.

2. Opt for Full Disclosure

You do not want to have prospective employees wondering whether they got the wrong address. Full disclosure presents you as a person who is straightforward and considerate. You do not want a potential employee weighing whether or not they want to work from someone else’s home as they walk down the hallway. Non-disclosure might have them thinking you have something to hide.

3. Interview Your Candidate

You will need to watch how candidates behave once they arrive at your home office. Do they look comfortable and at ease? Do not hesitate to ask them how they feel about it all. Attentively listen as they answer, understanding what they say and what they leave unsaid. If you had told them about it right off the bat and they seem uneasy during the interview, hire someone else.

4. Perform a Background Check

Experience and skills matter a lot, but character and integrity carry much more weight than these two qualities. It is better to hire someone worthy of trust even though they are inexperienced than hire an experienced person about whom you have trust issues. Be sure to conduct a thorough background check on all candidates. Ask people you trust for recommendations. You can always train a person, but you cannot induce character.

5. Set Up a Suitable Workspace

Your employee needs privacy; you must spend some money to create a bit of privacy around their work area. Offer them an atmosphere like the one they would expect in a traditional office. Provide them with a desk, a chair, as well as the tools and technological devices they need to work efficiently — a computer, wireless connection, a phone, and so on. The office needs to be well-lit, too; consider hiring a professional to help you design the office. Finally, have your family understand that the office is off-limits.

6. Add a Separate Entrance

Invest some money in designing an office having its own entrance. The less likely it is that employees will meet someone from your family as they enter the office the better. Also, it creates a sense of professionalism, making everyone feel comfortable. While you might need to spend some money to achieve this, it is worth it in the end.

7. Invest in Housekeeping Services

You are the boss, and you do not want your employees to come across dirty dishes in the kitchen. It makes perfect sense to hire a housekeeper. Having someone who does your dishes, vacuums the carpet, and cleans the bathrooms makes the home office a nicer place for your employees. Also, such an arrangement makes you feel confident.

8. Define Your Terms

This is a job, and you have expectations just like they have. Make it known right from the outset that you expect them to respect and follow all the rules and deliver results. Giving them an employee handbook demonstrates that you take your duties as a manager seriously. The manual should carry policies on office rules, working hours, use of office phone, sick days and any other relevant matter.

9. Set Your Boundaries

Being clear about the boundaries relating to their presence at your home is critical. They need to know from the beginning the rooms they can enter and those they cannot. Can your employee use your kitchen to prepare their lunch? Do you want them to leave during their lunch break? What about bathroom arrangements? Ensure you have a bathroom for office use, too.

In Conclusion

Being able to work from home is an exciting opportunity. However, it can be daunting if you have no idea how to handle hiring employees to work in your home office. Do background checks, tell candidates and family what to expect, set rules and boundaries, and build an office with own entrance. These simple tips should help you to hire the right person and keep them.

3 Reasons to Implement AI in Your Workplace

There are a lot of misconceptions concerning artificial intelligence circulating in public discourse. Classical works of science-fiction have taught us to think about A.I. either in terms of killer robots, god-like computers, and sly androids, or as the saviors of mankind in the form of automated workers, benevolent star-ship operators, or friendly house servants. The truth is, at least in the present moment, that contemporary artificial intelligence systems are much less proficient at things we thought they would be good at according to works of fiction. However, they are simultaneously pretty skilled and efficient at performing other kinds of tasks, albeit ones which are not as immediately awe-inspiring and spectacular.

There are many websites that deal with improving your business in different ways, such as Bootstrap Business, however, in this article, we will examine how artificial intelligence is being introduced into the realm of everyday business operations. While these applications of A.I. might not seem impressive at first, they are nonetheless transforming the way we work in important ways, and here is how.

Data-Analysis

One of the defining features of A.I., and computer science, in general, is the use of formal syntax. Code is structured according to a strict set of rules, which is what allows it to communicate with hardware in order to perform particular tasks. A beneficial side-effect of the formal nature of code is that it is especially suited for working on problems which are expressed in a similarly formal language. This is why computers are so good at doing math. A less obvious example of where the computational power of A.I. can be used is in the legal profession. The law is also a system of strict rules and regulations, which are expressed in precise terminology. This makes it suitable for machine analysis. For instance, court rulings can be analyzed for particular terms in order to find a common pattern, i.e. that cases which involve a particular offense are more likely to be resolved in favor of the defense. A.I. systems can go through millions of case files in a fraction of the time it would take a person, giving legal experts a powerful tool for understanding and predicting court outcomes.

Document Generation

Not only can A.I. assist with analysis, it can also produce data of the same kind it analyzes. By establishing that there are patterns in the way particular kinds of language are used, the A.I. gains the ability to mimic them. For example, if you feed a large number of similarly structured financial reports into an A.I. capable of machine-learning, it will eventually figure out how to write them itself. To give you an idea of how this works, imagine you have simple spreadsheet document with one column representing countries, and another representing their GDP. We can use this document to reach and express certain conclusions, such as that the GDP of the USA is bigger than Brazil’s for instance. However, doing this for every possible relation between the given data would take a long time to write for a person. Fortunately for us, an A.I. can figure out that the formal relation between columns can be expressed in a natural language such as we used above. This makes it possible to automatically generate things like financial reports, meteorological predictions, email invitations, etc. Should this spark your interest, a plethora of good advice can be found on Infinigeek.

Virtual Assistants

Another area where A.I. found its use is in automating standard office procedures. The functioning of every workplace depends on a host of repetitive activities which are not directly related to the services a company provides, but are nonetheless essential for everyday functioning. This includes arranging meetings, communicating memos, keeping track of case files, finding relevant documents, replying to common customer etc. This used to be the task of various middle management types, but recently virtual A.I. assistants have started taking over this line of work. Keeping track of important but uninteresting information is something A.I. excel at, and people find boring and mundane, so it makes sense to leave this kind of work to them. In other words, A.I. assistants can work in tandem with IT services departments to drastically reduce office busywork and red tape through technological means. This allows employees to focus on solving challenging, creative tasks, instead of concerning themselves with trivial work.

Conclusion

A.I. systems are making more and more inroads into the world of everyday work. And yet a lot of their potential still remains completely untapped. While it is hard to make concrete predictions about what the future holds for, we can at least be certain that it will involve more and more A.I. in the positions of fellow workers, instead of just tools.

6 Tips to Keep Your Office Productive and Happy

The times are such that working hours are long and employees spend most of the day at the office. Consequently, people are getting burnt out because sometimes there isn’t time for breaks. However, this is avoidable.

If working conditions are changed for the better, the employees will actually enjoy being in the workplace. Some global brands have recognised this, like Google. And many start-ups are following suit and setting examples for others.

  • Flexible working hours

Many companies today offer flexible working hours. People can start work in the timeframe between 8 and 10 a.m., and complete an eight-hour shift. This is a great solution for those who are not morning persons and need some time to get active.

This way, the employee doesn’t waste work time trying to wake up and start the tasks. They can come in late, already fresh and ready to begin the work immediately.

  • Be transparent

Share your ideas, goals and results with your employees on a regular basis. This transparent behaviour will boost the morale and help your employees to feel welcome and needed. If they know what the long-term plans are, they’ll be motivated to achieve them. This way you will not only increase productivity, but create loyal employees who can become brand ambassadors.

  • Remind employees to take a break

The reason why your employees are exhausted is that they don’t take breaks. This is simply something they forget or think is unacceptable until the job is done. If you promote break time and remind them to stretch their legs, they will certainly do it.

One of the modern ways is to create a recreation room with games and nooks for break time. Also, you can invite a yoga coach to demonstrate some simple exercises or organise lunch delivery for all. Whatever your strategy, this will sure bring you extra points with your staff and create a positive company culture.

  • Encourage communication

E-mails, chats, message boards and project management applications keep the communication alive, but nothing is better than chatting over coffee. Exchanging actual words and ideas in person is always a better approach than impersonal online communication.

Organise meetings as much as possible and allow some casual conversation during those. Office chatter can be problematic for some because of the nature of their work. But the recreation room, hallways or terrace are perfect to go and talk to your employees.

  • Reward employees

Rewards are always a surefire way to motivate your employees. However, make sure that you carefully plan the matter and see it through. A reward system can easily create a competitive environment among the employees and that can be detrimental to the office morale.

The safest rewards are not monetary, but those that are fun. Invent your own system, like giving funny and inventive titles such as King of Programming or Hemingway pin for best content writer.

  • Create a comfortable working environment

Ergonomic chairs, lazy bags and couches are just some of the things that come to mind for a comfortable office. Some companies go as far as to create indoor Zen gardens or waterfalls to reduce the stress and provide a serene atmosphere.

However, firstly you should take care of the environment. Aircon services will help you create the perfect “climate” during all seasons and make sure your employees are comfortable. A well-equipped and supplied kitchen will take care of their coffee, tea and snack needs. And a water dispenser on every floor and within easy reach will certainly make sure that all basic needs are fulfilled.

In the end

“A happy employee is a productive employee”, goes the saying. So spare no time or money when it comes to creating a positive and creative atmosphere in your office space. It will sure make everyone happy and productive for future tasks to come.