or You Could Talk To An Architect About It Instead
“And I said, I don’t care if they lay me off either, because I told, I told Bill that if they move my desk one more time, then, then I’m, I’m quitting, I’m going to quit. And, and I told Don too, because they’ve moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were married, but then they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn’t bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it’s not okay because if they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire…”Milton Waddams from Office Space
Not sure if that quote really has anything to do with this post but I have always wanted to use an Office Space quote in a blog about office spaces. (If you know of a better one let me know in the comments) Anyway, I was recently in a local accountant’s office and wondered, “Isn’t an accountant’s office where one visits said accountant to hand over sensitive financial documents and openly discuss your most private money matters?” Would you feel comfortable if your accountant’s personal office (you know, a desk, a chair, files, computer, and such) had no doors, or even a solid wall separating it from the lobby? By the way, the “way-too-big” conference room has the exact same issues so no privacy there either. In the lobby are currently two other would be clients waiting, standing actually, because no chairs are in the lobby, and the guy on the left waves at you sheepishly due to the uncomfortableness of the whole situation. You’ve seen it before: cramped cubicles where open collaboration should take place; open studios where privacy is needed (see above); traditional when it should be contemporary; a cramped lobby, without proper seating, for a large number of clients waiting to be invited back to the “Land of Cubes”. Needless to say this particular accounting firm wouldn’t get my business, and as any self respecting architect who uses too many commas would do, I immediately, well not immediately immediately, decided to bring this issue of Places of Business Not Designed for the Business and Negatively Affects the Overall Business (still refining the working title), up on this currently underused blog.
Mrs. Business Owner, don’t you remember reading that article last week while waiting in the doctor’s office? It mentioned it’s been proven that increased employee productivity is the result of being inspired and feeling more comfortable in their workspace. Your numbers haven’t looked so good lately and haven’t your employees been a little, how should you put it…not so pleasant. Hey maybe it’s the office because isn’t it still that drab-flat-tannish-cream-color(s) from when you moved in, with the spots on the walls, hand-me-down furniture, and carpet that looks like it is from 1997? “That’s it! I’m going to paint…this weekend”, wait…better yet, you can invite your employees to paint with you. You are going to spruce up the ol’ place…add some color, buy some not-too-expensive put it together yourself ergonomic work stations, rent a steam cleaner, and you should probably open the blinds for some natural light because the article said that was good too. It’s been a few weeks and the changes have actually made your employees and their work-spaces more comfortable, but did all that work (and money) really make a difference in your bottom line? Maybe you should think about what, or who, really matters…the customers? I’m not talking about a workplace designed just for the comfort of your customers, I mean “designed to best promote your business “to” your customers” kind of workplace. An “allow your employees to do what they do best for your customers” kind of workplace. The “move some walls, move some desks (Sorry Milton), opening some new holes in the walls, full on renovation” kind of workplace. That’s not to say you need to break the bank on what might be a simple “over a couple of weekends, move a wall or two” type change. It could, and should, be intelligent changes that can make all the difference to your company’s bottom line, and pay for itself almost immediately.
Personally, I like open designs, they work really well in a collaborative architecture office, but not so much in the accountants office. So before you go the “just spruce up the ol’place” route ask yourself, would my company see bigger profits, and a bigger return on my investment, by making both my employees and our customers happy? Would my company see more profits if we were streamlined by studying and better understanding how we do what we do? If your clients are given a clear message that your company and everything it does is focused on them, don’t you think they would be more willing to pay for what you are offering? If their workplace is designed around how your employees work and are better able to provide for the clients, don’t you think said employees will be more profitable…I mean productive, and happier to work for you? These questions should be asked and answered before spending the time, effort, and money this weekend to paint.
Businesses operate, and function, more efficiently when the space they operate in is designed for it’s particular type of business…and as a result can show higher profits. Keep an eye out for our blog updates at www.brown-architecture.com, or keep up with @BrownArch on Twitter, or Brown-Architecture on Facebook.
If you haven’t met one of us before, or just never thought to ask, us architects actually have boatloads of skills and talents that can benefit you and your business that isn’t necessarily designing a brand new building (Yes, we can do that too). So why don’t you ask one of us to help you out with designing your office for your business this weekend instead of painting…I happen to know one or two you could talk to.
So no one gets the wrong idea, the above scenario is pure fiction. Any resemblance to actual places of business –whether its yours or someone you know– is purely intentional…I mean coincidental.