Tips For Planning Your Office Culture

Starting a business is no simple endeavor. Growing that business sustainably is even more challenging. You have numerous obstacles to overcome, and solutions are never guaranteed. That’s why so many startups fail. Forbes contributor Neil Patel proposed that nine out of 10 startups will fail before highlighting four successful characteristics typically reserved for the successful 10 percent. While his suggestions are salient, they’re also fairly generic. One subject rarely given sufficient attention is the impact of the office culture on startups and small businesses.

Achieving long-term business success is a complex undertaking, but it’s even harder without implicit employee support. Another Forbes contributor, Shep Hyken, wrote about how happy employees make happy customers. His argument was predicated on Gallup’s State of The American Workplace report, which suggested that engaged employees contributed to a 20 percent sales increase. That was big news. Hyken’s two other key suggestions were creating a fun work environment and showing employees they are supported. Readers should realize that the two categories can easily overlap.

The space that people occupy while working has a real impact on morale and, therefore, productivity. Marcus DeNitto at BizJournals published an informative article explaining exactly how the right office design can maximize productivity. He describes relevant trends that have produced positive outcomes and includes an animated infographic that visualizes how the flexible office space has evolved. What Marcus suggests is that the employee experience matters and that the physical space is a contributing factor.

Forbes contributor Jacob Morgan made the same argument in an article. Both authors encourage businesses to focus intently on finding ways to improve the workspace, but that still leaves room for debate. For instance, is it better for startups and small businesses to have their own dedicated workspace or could they still expect to thrive relying on alternative arrangements (i.e., remotely distributed, co-working, etc.)? Most business leaders already have a strong stance on the matter.

John Klein at Biztech made compelling arguments about why small businesses might not need a physical office to thrive. He proposes data suggesting that more and more Americans are open and even prefer remote work at least some time. Real cost-savings accrue without a dedicated physical workspace. Monthly lease payments, contracted construction and interior design, can all add up. But equally compelling arguments could to be made about why startups and small businesses need a physical workspace.

Entrepreneur Justin Lee proposed nine reasons why businesses need a physical workspace. According to him, everything from talent acquisition and team-building to cultivating accountability and professional development is made easier with a physical workspace. For most business leaders, it makes sense to at least experiment with a physical workspace. Some startups and small business could benefit from building their own physical workspaces from the beginning. That means they have to take responsibility for every aspect of the space from the wall paint to the ice vending machine made available on-site. The devil is often in the details, which means these businesses can’t afford to overlook much of anything.

Fortunately, services now exist that let businesses experiment with physical workspaces while avoiding the investments necessary to have their own. Such services are frequently called co-working spaces (e.g., WeWork). Authors at the Harvard Business Review released a provocative piece explaining why people thrive in them. Chief among those reasons is the community aspect and the ability to forge connections with others. That should make intuitive sense to readers. Businesses are at their heart human-centered. The more meaningful human interaction that can be encouraged, the better.

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