A well organised and tidy office, that takes your daily task and workload into account, can make a huge difference to your efficiency. Apart from aesthetic concerns and some basic solutions that suggest themselves, it can sometimes feel like a daunting task to plan your workplace.
Often small businesses can find themselves fixing issues as they are confronted, because not enough pre-emptive thought has gone into planning the layout of the workplace. As complicated and business specific as the topic may be, here are a few pointers that will help you avoid avoid the most common pitfalls.
Make a “Big Picture” List
Far too many small businesses create lists, and other organisational tools, around specific tasks. While this may seem to be addressing the issues at hand, often the absence of a list that takes your entire workload into account can be a hindrance. For one thing, synergies that seem blatantly obvious when you put everything down in the one spot can easily be missed with team, or task, specific lists. Having an overall organisational view can seem like a simple thing but can often reduce clutter greatly.
Have Regular Clean Up
No matter how efficiently you begin your business, or even a workday, the demands of a full workload and deadlines can routinely result in the same clutter you were trying to avoid in the first place! There’s really no way around this but a regular clean up, that will allow you to undo the chaos of a particularly hectic period, when all other priorities come second to a deadline or a large order.
Tailor Your Filing System To Your Needs
Simple and obvious as it may seem, it’s surprising how many workplaces are hampered by filing systems that are at odds with the processes being implemented.
Spend some time coming up with a system that suits your workplace and office practices. This applies to both physical and computer based filing systems. Include your staff in coming up with one, often it’s the person dealing the most with a part of system who can come up with the most elegant solutions. Consistency is the key to having the most efficient electronic and paper filing systems. Take into account the general practices and processes that are part of your workday and build systems that support them.
For example, what is the most likely way your staff will search for a file? By client name? Or is a processing number more likely? Organising files according to how often they are required is another thing to take into account when organising a system to store them. Remember that the most efficiently organised system will eventually generate redundant and unnecessary files, make sure to clean up every once in a while.
Eliminate the Use of Paper As Much As Possible
Despite how long the technologies have existed, to reduce paper usage in workplaces, it’s still commonplace to come across workplaces that use paper more than they should. Besides the obvious environmental benefits, files recorded in media supported by computers benefit your efficiency.
They are easily accessed by multiple users at the same time, can be emailed across the globe or even saved in many different versions at every stage of an activity they are used for. They do however call for regular backup, which can be easily automated. In some instances it’s impossible to completely eliminate paper.
For example various forms and invoices that your customers and suppliers submit to you are out of your hands, but they can easily be scanned and stored more safely and efficiently If you come across web pages that you need to have repeated access to, bookmarking them is a more efficient way to keep track of them rather than downloading them. Similarly signing up for electronic payment facilities that allow you to take care of your regular incoming bills not only reduces paper clutter, it is also an time efficient way of being able to take care of these responsibilities.
Keep Your Drawers Organised
It can be tempting to use your drawers to simply put away paper you need to store. Needless to say this will eventually snowball into an inefficient way of storing information. Organise filing systems for both common use and ones that your staff use for their individual functions. Put aside time regularly to clean up and reorganise these drawers so that any chaos that has crept in can be cleared up.
Organise Your Tools According To How Often They Are Used
How many things on your desk do you use everyday or often? Too many times we leave a tool in our workspace long after it was used. Try to put away things that you use infrequently. If you don’t need it often, it can probably be stored away until it is needed again. A simple enough tip, but one that is overlooked surprisingly often.