Setting up the right office space is crucial and can make a large difference in the success of your business. It is important to discover what your business needs in a space and get it right. Doing so can ensure efficient workflow and concentration for you and employees.
Whether you are working from a small office or starting off in a large, new building, you can save time and money by taking some steps to increase organizational logistics within your new space. Remember that while some things may be seen as unnecessary extras to you in the beginning stages, they are vital amenities that are available to help your business grow.
Use this short checklist to ensure optimal office setup for your business. The checklist will cover the basic steps for getting started, as well as those few extra touches that will take your workplace from “this will work” to “this is great.” While all of these points may not be relevant to you and your business, and you may find yourself needing to compromise on some points, it is still useful to work through the list and consider your needs.
Choosing the Right Space
- The first step is finding an office space. Decide if your business can be successful as a home-based office or if you need to buy or rent a new space. You can receive assistance for finding an office space on LoopNet, OfficeFinder or ShowCase, websites that provide assistance finding commercial real estate.
- Make sure that your new office space is up to code and in the correct zoning. Before you start operating in your new space, it is important to make sure your business is legally allowed to work there. You also want to make sure your new space passes inspections and is a safe work environment.
- Determine if the space is the right size for your business. Not only does it need to be large enough to fit you and your employees for day-to-day operations, but it also needs to be small enough to keep your costs low. You also need to consider how much room you want to give your business to grow in this space, so you don’t have to immediately relocate if your company gets larger.
- Consider the location of the property. Is the area safe and accessible for employees and clients? Be sure to note adequate parking and handicap accessibility. It is also a good idea to check and monitor crime rates in the area.
Furnishings and Equipment
- Decide what office equipment you will need to operate and where you will purchase these items. This includes machines such as computers, phones, printers, fax machines and copiers, as well as daily necessities such as paper, notepads and pens. Consider all-in-one options that print, copy and scan to reduce costs and optimize your space. Equipment can be purchased at a discount from used office furniture stores or leased relatively cheaply. Be sure to check your local newspaper for closing businesses selling furniture and supplies and monitor Craigslist.
- How will you create your workstations? Consider where each employee will work and what sort of layout your space can accommodate. Are there separate rooms for each employee or individual cubicles? Also be sure to remember desks and chairs for each staff member in addition to their personal office equipment. Ergonomically correct options are available and should be seriously considered for employees who spend several hours at their computer at a time.
- The layout of each workstation will vary depending upon electronic requirements and communication access. Each room may not have internet and phone access points, and the location of these in the office can delegate the arrangement of certain items. For example, desks may need to be placed near these access points to house computers and phones. Plan on a system for keeping cords and cables out of the way for safety reasons. Using larger cable management tubes or taping them against the wall is a simple solution.
- The arrangement and placement of furniture and electronics in your office space is important. Consider the windows for lighting and possible glare they could have on computer screens. Are you able to walk easily from the door to other areas of the space? Also, set up your space efficiently so that items are placed where they are needed, such as paper near the printer and filing near the mailbox. Place any work items you don’t use on a regular basis out of sight.
- Storage and filing is a vital aspect to any business operation. You can get easily get offsite long-term storage relatively cheap if there is not adequate storage space in your office. Shelving and filing systems will be necessary to make important documents accessible and retrievable. Consider stackable systems that reduce clutter and open up valuable space. Hanging file systems work well for this, as well as plastic totes. Plan secure options such as cabinets with combination locks for documents and items that require extra security. Also include mail organizers for your space to avoid clutter and wastebaskets to encourage the disposal of unnecessary documents.
- Ensure each workstation has proper lighting placement to avoid eye strain. Sufficient overhead lighting is necessary in all rooms and extra over-the-shoulder lighting for tasks if necessary. This could include basic desk lamps near reading areas.
- Find an appropriate décor and atmosphere that is fitting for your workspace. The décor should be calming and should not distract too much from work. Remember to keep it simple to reduce clutter and use soothing art and colors. One great option is to work with local art museums, which will often loan pieces to small businesses in exchange for donations.
Other Operations to Consider
- Find an area in your space that is appropriate for meeting with clients or employees; although it doesn’t need to be large or separate from the rest of your space, you will want to give a polished impression.
- Is there a proper reception area? Whether or not there is a reception desk or waiting room, the space where guests enter needs to be organized and welcoming. If there will not be a staff member waiting to greet guests, have a system set up to instruct guests on actions to take or where to go.
- Setting up phone and internet systems needs to occur early in the process. Be sure the space you are choosing has the right utilities available, such as access to broadband internet. Professional phone systems can be found at used office furniture stores and should be used even if you plan on working from home; you will need to keep a separate business line to help you maintain a professional appearance.