Keeping your company at the forefront of the business world can be a tricky prospect. Every business owner has a fear of falling behind and getting swallowed up by the sheer volume of competitors. Most of the time, the desire to stay ahead of the curve leads to a focus on the broadest, most obvious changes and innovations. These are, of course, crucial. You’ve got to make sure that your business is pushing forward in significant ways. It’s that attitude that has given us some of the biggest shifts in the way business is done in recent years. But that’s not the only place where you should focussing your attention. So many companies spend so much time concentrating on the broad strokes that they forget to look at things on a lower level. It doesn’t matter how forward thinking your business model is. If the way you deal with things on an individual is outdated, then it’s going to hold your business back. Fortunately, a lot of the lower level innovations that will help your business aren’t all that difficult to implement. It’s more a matter of having a decent attention to detail and the willingness to bit in the necessary amounts of time and effort. If you’re interested in pushing it forward, here are eight small innovations that will make your business better.
Open plan offices
Gone are the days of tyrannical office managers who want their employees silent and focussed at all times. It’s been shown time and time again that an office that isolates people fosters a lack of engagement with the work. Not only can this lead to employee dissatisfaction, but can have a severe negative impact on productivity. A simple, yet shockingly effective solution is to knock down those cubicle walls. An open plan office is a fantastic way to foster a sense of communication and collaboration between employees. Not only that but it creates a brighter, more dynamic environment. Making it far more pleasant for everyone to be in.
Furniture that you can move
Of course, not everyone works at their best in a group dynamic. There are those who flourish in the atmosphere of a large team and do their best work in collaborations. But on the other hand, there are people who find a little bit more peace to be the best environment for being as productive as possible. Rather than splitting your office down the middle and creating a separation between these two types of employees, let them move. Moveable furniture is a fantastic solution to this problem. Desks, chairs, and cabinets that can shift around help your office to switch between different work modes at a moment’s notice. This means that whatever kind of work your employees are doing, they can set up the office to accommodate it. Not only that but it puts the responsibility in the hands of the employees themselves. This offers them a chance to take control of their working environment. Rather than feeling like they need to slot into an assigned space.
Working on that idea of specific space for specific needs. Consider setting aside a specific space for quiet, private thinking. It doesn’t need to take up a particularly significant portion of the office, but it can make a big difference. If an employee, or small team, need that quiet, private space to work productively, it doesn’t need to affect the rest of your staff. This way you can essentially have the best of both worlds. You can maintain the communicative, open atmosphere. But at the same time, avoid making life more difficult for anyone who needs a little space to think.
Get your employees on their feet
Everyone knows the dangers of bad sitting posture when you’re working. It’s pretty likely that you’ve got a lot of information in your office about just that. But even with the best posture in the world, sitting for hours at a time can be seriously bad for you. A great thing to do is to make sure that your employees have alternatives for working. Standing desks especially are a great way to offset the problems of sitting for eight hours a day or more. It gives your employees the chance to stretch their legs and avoid getting overly stiff. It also ensures that their posture stays consistent. Not only that but being able to move around can do wonders for your ability to think through difficult problems. Just make sure that you’re offering your employees appropriate support when they’re standing. To make sure that they’re as comfortable and supported as possible, invest in some Sky Mats. You can find perfect examples at www.amazon.com/Sky-Fatigue-Kitchen-Standing-Black/dp/B00M8O122G.
Don’t assign desks
Of course, it’s important that your employees can feel like they have their own space in the workplace. But the worst thing you can do is simply to tell them where they’re sitting and force them to stick with it. Allowing your employees to choose where they want to sit is a much better way to create a comfortable and productive office dynamic. It means that you’re putting the trust in your employees to set themselves up in places that are the most conducive to their workings style. People who work better alone will seat themselves in slightly more isolated areas. Whereas individuals who work at their best in a louder, more collaborative environment can make sure that they’re at the center of everything. It takes a lot to put that sort of faith in your employees. But if you’ve created a healthy work environment for them, they’ll be happy to find the most productive layout for themselves.
Create a safe environment for collaboration
This goes beyond just letting your employees discuss and work through problems together. You should be making your employees feel like they are a valued member of the company and that their ideas are welcome. Set up a method that they can use to suggest ideas for how to improve the business as a whole. Make sure that they know that their ideas are going to be read and considered carefully. This has two significant benefits. First, it creates an environment where your employees feel genuinely valued. By letting them know that you’ll listen to their ideas, they’ll feel less like an average worker and more like an important cog in a larger mechanism. The second benefit is that your employees can see the business in ways you perhaps can’t. This means that their suggestions could well end up being things that you’ve never even considered. You could find that you make serious adjustments to your business based on feedback and suggestions from your employees.
Of course, you don’t want your employees trying anything that could put the business at risk! But by encouraging them to take the initiative in how they go about solving problems, you foster a much more innovative environment. Again, your employees can see things from a totally different perspective than you. By being overly didactic about how they should go about their jobs, you may be stifling any creative solutions that they could otherwise come up it. Respect your employees enough to trust them to make their own decisions, even if they’re difficult. If no one ever takes any risks, then a business can never grow or move forward. Encourage your employees to try new things, even if they fail it’s a valuable learning experience. Don’t punish them for trying something new and failing. Encourage them to learn what they could have done better. That way when they come up against a similar problem, they’ll be that much better equipped to deal with it. And when a risk does pay off, make sure that the information about it is spread around the office. That way the innovations that come from employees spread sideways, rather than being delivered from above.
It’s genuinely incredible how much of a difference a flexible and open working environment can make. Make sure that your employees are aware of the importance of taking time off. Whether it’s a vacation or just a few days to recharge. Human beings aren’t built to work non-stop and fight through difficult problems without taking a break. Of course, there will need to be rules around how much time they can take. But try to treat it in as flexible way as possible. Again it’s a matter of putting your trust in your employees. The same goes for breaks throughout the day. Be flexible with small breaks that your employees can take to brush off the cobwebs. Forcing yourself to keep fighting against something can ruin motivation and productivity. By allowing your employees to take flexible breaks, they’ll be able to walk away from a problem and come back with a fresh perspective.
These might all seem like tiny changes compared to the size of a business. But these tiny changes add up and will do wonders for creating a more dynamic, innovative workplace.