Needs of the modern workspace are changing every day. Employment grows and shrinks, more advanced technology is introduced, and the strategic execution of business goals is constantly in flux. In order to stay up-to-date with current needs, work environments should be consistently monitored.
Often in leasing/brokerage negotiations for office space, the term “office flow” comes up in conversation. As a broker, I try to identify clients’ needs when it comes to creating a productive work environment. How an office functions—both in layout and use of amenities—can make a noticeable difference on the company’s bottom line.
Here are some reasons why you should understand office flow and a few ways that your employees can be positively or negatively affected by your space.
What IS office flow?
Simply put, “office flow” is the way your company interacts with its space. What constitutes a good office flow can be different for each company and vary within every space. I would describe good office flow as the setup or environment that most efficiently produces an effective workplace, which enables both the employees and company to reach its collective organizational goals.
Before leasing an office, it’s important to think through your layout, what goals you have for internal communication, and how you want your employees and clientele to interact with the space.
An office flow checklist:
- Layout – Collaboration is something that happens naturally when employees are placed in the right environment. Depending on your company’s specific goals, your workers may need to be stationed closer or further away from each other to enhance productivity. Having a space that offers the right amount of open space versus closed offices will only benefit you in the long run.
- Ambient noise levels – Loud printers, speakerphone conference calls, lobby music and more—noise can be very distracting and directly affect the focus of your team members. Some things that trouble others are loud employees, copy machines, and restrooms. Considering the location of these within your office will help overall productivity. Does the space you are looking at offer quiet areas away from these disruptions?
- Department segmentation – Employees within the same department need to be in close proximity to facilitate better communication. Whether it’s in an open, collaborative space or private offices, it makes sense for two employees from accounts receivable or accounting to be near each other instead of across the office. Personally, I’ve found that communication comes more naturally and happens much more efficiently when similar departments are conveniently nearby.
- Conference room locations – This may seem like a no-brainer, but having a space with conference rooms near the front entrance can significantly cut down on hallway traffic and employee disruptions. In addition to the distraction of visitors walking through the space all day, it may also make it easier for important guests to see your employees tidying their space, eating lunch at their desk, or handling some other non-work-related task. Chances are, you’d rather your clients see the office at peak performance.
- Ease of entry/exit for visitors – The arrangement of hallways, doors, and conference rooms for visitors can be an area that causes much confusion. After many meetings in different locations, I’ve seen how people can get lost and end up somewhere—like an “employees-only” area—they shouldn’t be in. An office should be simple to navigate, not a labyrinth that makes visits frustrating. In larger spaces, office flow can be improved with proper signage, digital directories, and other navigational assistance.
- Break area/eating area – Each employee and office will do things differently, but by providing a break area for employees to store food, re-heat food, and enjoy a meal together, you will help cultivate the company culture and improve office relationships. If employees choose to spend time together when it’s not required, they will work more efficiently when it is required of them.
Still have questions about how you can improve your office flow?
Again, every office has different needs when it comes to office layout, communication, and convenience within the space. If you are actively seeking to improve your own office’s flow, give us a call at 256-536-8809. You can also email me directly at email@example.com.
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ERIC ST. JOHN
CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP