How Small Businesses Should Evaluate Their Workspace and Workplace Strategies and Build Success
Much has been written on the subjective of the collaborative workspace in recent years. The argument is that the physical workspace—largely configured open work environments—increases collaboration, creativity, and productivity. The belief is that socially reengineering the workspace into open-plan offices creates interactions that do not—and cannot—occur in office space with physical offices and dedicated cubicles.
The emergence of the collaborative workspace is one of the factors that have led companies to abandon flexible work arrangements, including remote workers, and to mandate that employees work from office locations every day from 9 to 5. Marisa Meyer argued this was a partial solution for Yahoo’s declining financial woes when she took over the company’s helm in 2013. Suffering under declining revenue and shifting business model, IBM made a similar decision last year.
Company Culture Should Define Workspace and Workplace Strategies
But success isn’t simply tied to an open workspace or a workplace where employees come to the office five days a week and sit at the desks or in conference rooms from 9 to 5. If we take time to trace the genesis of worker collaboration, creativity, and productivity, we will find that it is rooted in company culture. And the reality is that no two companies are the same; workforce demographics, core values, work processes, and other business factors are different. Consequently, businesses that start with business outcomes when they embrace workspace and workplace changes do so from a faulty premise.
Instead, company culture should shape what workspace and workplace policies are enacted. Those organizations that use business objectives as the primary—or only—basis for formulating company culture make a serious mistake. Demographic and worker data must also factor into those decisions. For example, most workers today do not think that they need to be in an office to be productive; over one-third indicate they would enjoy their jobs more if they could work remotely (at least some of the time).
Workday Changes, Workplace Transformation
At the same time, office hours are becoming obsolete. The workday is no longer defined as 9 to 5. Digital technologies and work expectations changed this paradigm. Today’s workplace assumes an always-on, always-available environment. And while workers are willing to embrace this change (and have), the majority want flexible work options—including the willingness to take a pay cut in exchange for a more flexible work environment.
As it becomes more difficult to find and retain top talent in an economy with low unemployment, small businesses should think carefully before embarking on workplace strategy that mandates a 9-to-5 workday and more importantly one that requires employees to work five days a week from a fixed office space. Indeed, data shows that businesses with hybrid or remote workplace policies perform better than those that insist on a fixed workday and workspace.
Workspace Options: One-Size-Fits-All Doesn’t Work
Small businesses seeking to compete in the digital age must carefully evaluate their business requirements and shape their company culture accordingly. Many find that a permanent office is simply not needed. Instead, they leverage coworking space and rented day offices and conference rooms like Davinci Meeting Rooms. In addition to reducing capital expenditures, these rented office solutions provide flexibility—and choice. Rather than a one-size workspace approach, rented office solutions provide businesses with both options: coworking spaces when an open-plan environment works best, and day offices with walls and doors when workers need privacy and the ability to focus.
When choosing rented office space, small businesses should ask a series of questions that include:
- Does the office space have multiple configuration options, including coworking versus day office space and conference rooms of multiple sizes?
- Does the office space include a professional lobby greeter?
- Who are the other tenants in the office? Is the office space geared to only a handful of industries or myriad industries? Are there networking opportunities that may benefit my company?
- What are the working hours of the office location? For example, if your business has weekend meetings, then an office location with weekend hours is a requisite? Likewise, if your business operates outside of an 8-to-5 or 9-to-5 window, then you will require an office location that is open for extended hours?
- Does the office space have the technological tools such as white boards, video conference calls, and customer and partner presentations, among others that my business needs to facilitate collaboration and productivity?
- Does the office space provide other business services such as administrative support, notary services, and faxing and photocopying?
- Does the office space have catering options for team, partner, or customer meetings?
It’s indisputable. Technology has transformed a multitude of economic segments, impacting our personal and professional lives. It offers small businesses an opportunity to look and act like much larger businesses. Perhaps it is no more evident than when it comes to the workplace and workspace.