Organizing office workspace: what do I really need to take into account?
Office organization is one of the most important contributors to an efficient and comfortable work environment. Despite this, it is also an aspect that is still too often underestimated by entrepreneurs and startuppers. Perhaps not everyone knows that, net of any reflection on the specificity of each profession, properly optimizing work space has obvious beneficial effects on business productivity.
Henry Ford, among the founders of the Ford Motor Company, said:
“Meeting together is a beginning, staying together is progress, working together is success.”
You should know that organizing your office work optimally is the way to this success. In the next few lines you will discover the factors you need to consider in order to succeed in optimizing your workspace.
Work spaces: assessing needs
A well-organized workspace is able to reduce worker stress as well as risks to their health and safety, thereby increasing their mental and physical well-being at work and, consequently, their productivity. A company in which the different workstations are properly optimized, therefore, proves to be more efficient.
For this analysis on work organization to be really useful to you, however, it must be clear to you that, of course, any business activity has its own specificities, starting precisely with the business location. In optimizing your work space, therefore, you must consider the specific needs of your business, as well as those of your workers (including you). More specifically, you need to consider who will be using the workspace and with what specific tasks, what facilities and devices they need to get their work done, and what risks they are exposed to during their activities. But not only that.
The next few paragraphs will be devoted to examining the most common needs in terms of office organization.
Nowadays, any business needs an Internet connection (wired or wi-fi) and one or more devices connected to it. This argument, all the more so, applies to startups. It is a good rule of thumb, therefore, to assess the space requirements related to the different equipment that must be present within the various rooms by verifying, for example, that the sockets are in sufficient number and, above all, close to the workstations. The one just mentioned, we repeat, is a fairly basic example, but you have to consider that, for startups, the technological needs are far more sophisticated.
Workspace furniture should make work more efficient and comfortable; this means that, for example, the chairs on which employees work (often for several hours at a time, every day) should promote proper posture and avoid physical harm. A viable option available to you is to rent furniture from specialized suppliers.
Lighting and noise
Anyone who spends many hours in front of a computer knows this well: artificial light strains the eyes and compromises workers’ health. In a work environment, it is very important that ambient lighting recreates natural lighting as much as possible. In this regard, a general guideline is to use overhead and evenly diffused light.
Like the eyes, workers’ ears must also be protected: therefore, it is good to avoid the use of excessively noisy equipment and, where this is not possible, to organize the space and provide ad hoc protections in such a way as to avoid damage to health caused by excessive noise.
Temperature and ventilation
It is impossible to define what the ideal temperature is inside a work environment because this depends on various factors, starting with the type of work performed and ending with the conformation of the work environment or the equipment inside it. That said, it is essential to have the ability to regulate temperature. The spread of Covid-19 has then brought another very important issue to the forefront: that of ventilation within offices. Today more than ever, do not underestimate this aspect.
Hygiene and safety
Hygiene and safety are two other cornerstones of workspace optimization: although this may seem obvious to you, do not overlook the importance of keeping environments regularly clean. Keep in mind, too, that with regard to safety in the work environment, there are specific legal obligations that must be carefully observed.
Purchasing or renting a business premises is a very important expense item, and, therefore, it is crucial to know how to make the best use of the work space.
In recent times, many companies are resorting to open space, a solution that makes it easier to optimize space and encourages the exchange of ideas and experiences among workers (thus helping to create a more cohesive work group). Not all businesses, however, are suitable for such a work environment. When choosing your work location, you need to consider several aspects, including whether certain tasks within your startup require more space than others or separate areas (for example, to ensure a higher level of confidentiality).
Another important aspect to consider when optimizing space is accessibility: within the work environment, all employees, including those with disabilities, must be able to move freely and without obstacles.
Organize work space for greater efficiency and productivity
In the previous lines we have analyzed the main factors to be taken into consideration in office organization. What follows, however, is a consideration of some additional expedients useful in ensuring greater efficiency within the work environment. They may seem like trivial pointers, but taking care of these aspects allows you to make a difference in productivity.
Let’s look, first of all, at how to organize the office desk: it is important that it be spacious enough to accommodate all the essential tools, from the computer to the telephone and document binders. But where should the desk be placed? It should be placed in such a way that the worker has visual control over who enters the office. It is also advisable to avoid placing a desk with a window or passageway behind it because the natural instinct would lead the worker to constantly turn around to check the situation, thus wasting time unnecessarily.
Another key aspect is the arrangement of desks in the office: in cases where there are several workstations, it is advisable to leave a distance of 60 to 90 centimeters between each other, so as to make it easy to move around while ensuring privacy and concentration for each worker. Many business owners make the mistake of placing desks far apart, but this means forcing workers to repeatedly move around the office, with obvious repercussions on their productivity.
Don’t forget, in this regard, that you can also use dividing panels between desks, which are particularly useful if you decide to adopt an open space solution. Panels, if sound-absorbing, give you the opportunity to reduce noise pollution in the office, isolating the workstations and thus improving the well-being and productivity of workers. But that’s not all: freestanding panels have the great advantage of being versatile and adapting to your every operational need, giving you a way to set up an office adapted to different purposes of use, always compatible with the evolution and expansion of your startup. For the same reason, modular furniture proves to be very useful.
Reduce health and safety risks
As we have already mentioned, the benefits of proper office organization in terms of efficiency and productivity of proper office organization are closely related to the mental and physical health and well-being of workers.
For this reason, it is very important that you stay up-to-date with the latest information on occupational safety, a subject that refers to the actions that a company must put into practice to ensure the safety of its workers and that in Italy is regulated by Legislative Decree 81/2008 (also known as the “Consolidated Law on Safety at Work” or as the “Occupational Health and Safety Act”). In addition to this text, you should know that very useful guidance regarding the organization of the office can also come from the website of INAIL (the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work).