There’s a growing trend in the world of making offices feel more like home and there are several reasons behind this. First of all, the trend of telecommuting and the number of people that prefer to work from home has made a lot of modern entrepreneurs run for their money. It clearly indicates that there’s one massive flaw of an office space that people are trying to make up for by working from home. Second, a lot of people spend most of their waking hours in the office (8 to 10 hours, 6 days per week), which means that their quality of life depends on their opinion of the office space. Both of these reasons are more than enough for you to want to make the place feel like home. Here are seven tips on how you can do it.
#1. Start with the reception area
A good reception area is not just for visitors but for the employees, as well. If their work day starts early in the morning, just having someone to wish you good morning can make a world of a difference. If from the very first step they make on the premises, they feel welcome and appreciated, they’ll feel more motivated for work.
If you want to have people arrive at the office with a smile on their face, then you have to start working on your reception area. An adequate light, a proper layout and desk position and the branding of the area can, indeed, make a difference.
Picking the right person for the job is pivotal, seeing as how they’re what makes the difference in this area. For this to work, you need to know the right qualities that make a great receptionist.
What you need to focus on is someone who has well-developed communication skills and someone who is great at listening to others. Essentially, what you need is a master at customer service with amazing non-verbal communication and a positive attitude. Finding such a person is not easy but it’s definitely worth all the trouble.
#2. Personal space
Regardless if you go for cubicles or not, your employees need to have that one corner of the office that they can call their own. This is why you need to allow them to customize their own workstation. First of all, you need to ensure that your employees have all the tools that they need for work.
Here, you should start with basic elements like a screen (or screens), a desk and a chair. Then, you need to proceed to set these elements in a format that you find to be the most fitting. For instance, a screen can be mounted to the wall (if it’s a workstation in the corner of the room or in a cubicle) or it can be standing on a desk.
If you decide to go with cubicles, there’s so much you can do. Previously, we’ve mostly focused on productivity and work-efficiency, yet, customizing your own cubicle to reflect your unique interests and preferences is perhaps the best idea to make people feel at home.
Of course, there should be some boundaries but as long as they’re not disturbing others, they should be free to manage the space as if it were their home office. An interesting concept that might soon come to pay itself off.
#3. A kitchen can make a difference
The dining area is important for your team building, due to the fact that your team is bound to mingle, chatter and overall socialize while spending time here. For this to work, the kitchen needs to be spacious enough that the people in it doesn’t feel cramped or crowded. Second, the dining area needs to be big enough to take everyone.
Finally, compartmentalizing a fridge is a great idea, seeing as how this particular appliance tends to be the cause of an immense number of arguments in the office. Needless to say, you need to do all that’s in your power to prevent it.
Investing in appliances means investing in your own team, yet, not all entrepreneurs see it this way. Think about it, if you spend top dollar on work-related appliances yet skimp on items that are there for the leisure of your workforce, you’re sending a clear message about your priorities. There’s nothing wrong with being profit-oriented but how in order to receive loyalty, you must first demonstrate some loyalty on your own.
Investing in high-end kitchen appliances is a great way to do so and it’s a good reason to get a top-notch coffee bean machine instead of just getting a regular coffee maker. Other than being a niche gesture, coffee is known to boost productivity, which makes this into a win-win scenario.
The aroma of freshly brewed coffee will spread across the office like wildfire and easily bring you one step closer to making this place feel like home.
#4. Think about the breakroom
First of all, you need to make sure your breakroom is positioned far from your work area so that people on the break aren’t creating too much noise that distracts people who are still working. Other than this, the room needs to be spacious enough (same as with the kitchen) and it needs to have enough seating. This is where things get interesting. Remember that you’re not designing a living room and that you don’t have to uniform all your seating.
It’s completely fine to combine sofas with lazy bags and even folding chairs. In fact, this kind of customization capabilities and randomness might give the place a more casual and less formal look.
When it comes to the issue of entertainment, which is something that you absolutely must tend to on the first occasion, it’s smart to choose options that encourage A) teamwork and B) competitiveness. Table tennis, especially when played in a 2 vs. 2 fashion can be quite efficient in boosting the team synergy. Other options are table soccer or a pool. When it comes to competitiveness, even a pinball machine can do wonders, seeing as how everyone will want to see their initials in the high score list and there’s a special appeal to the idea of being an office champion.
#5. Attacking other senses
Another thing you need to focus on is the ambiance of the room which can be boosted by appealing to more than one sense. First of all, when it comes to the visual appeal of the place, light is as important as the shapes or colors, yet, it’s one element that a lot of employers tend to overlook.
Well, overlook might not be the right word, seeing as how they do care about the efficiency of the light (for work and utility bill purposes). However, you might want to consider the ambiance, as well.
Temperature is crucial in making people feel pleasant, yet, seeing as how you’re still running an office, you also need to think about the issue of work efficiency.
Recent studies have shown that the temperature of around 22 Celsius (71.6 degrees Fahrenheit) seems to be ideal. Keep in mind that this is not something that everyone will agree upon and even putting it up for a vote might not be efficient. Needless to say, this is one of those scenarios where you need to be an authority and make a decision for the greater good.
#6. Make the place feel cozy
Fabrics, rugs and cozy furniture are crucial in making the place feel warmer and homelier, yet, where do you begin?
First of all, having the furniture appear too cozy is not something that is necessarily a good idea, seeing as how it may lull people into sleep by making them feel too comfortable in the workplace.
This is where you should turn to ergonomics in order to find a perfect compromise. Other than that, rugs are great for organizing open floor office spaces, as well as making the place seem warmer, comfier and, overall, more home-like. Still, this can drastically increase the price of this interior decoration project.
#7. Indoor jungle
The visual effect of plants is important when it comes to the way in which people see your office, especially if it’s a plant that is known to enhance the office environment. First of all, size definitely matters and you want to pick a small indoor plant like jade plant or Chinese evergreen.
If you’re determined to introduce more color to the office, you can go with African violet or a peace lily. In office spaces where black is a predominant color, picking an English ivy might help you stay true to the theme of the office. Of course, you can never go wrong with something as simple as cactus.
There are some other perks of making your office greener, as well. First of all, office plants can help regulate the temperature (which is something we’ve already discussed) but they also help improve the quality of air within the room and clear toxins from the air.
In other words, it’s not just an investment in the appearance of the room but and investment in productivity, health and overall making the office feel more like home. This is a simple and inexpensive trick that can get you where you want to be in no time.
In the end, it’s more than clear that all of these “office improvements” don’t really take that much work. All you have to do is shift your mindset a bit when it comes to your perception of ideal workspace and you’ll soon realize that it’s mostly a crossover between a home office and a traditional office. You aim for a laid-back ambiance of one and productivity of the other. This is what getting the best of both worlds feels like.