Office space is not cheap especially in major cities. While the Philippines continues to have some of the cheapest office spaces in the Asia-Pacific region, cheap is not really that cheap in the perspective of local businessmen. That’s why companies could not easily expand their offices to match their growing number of employees.
The prevailing setup involves the use of cubicles for most employees with the rooms only limited to the use of officers or those who hold sensitive functions. Most employees will have to deal with the disadvantages and inconveniences of being in the same area ineffectively separated by cubicle walls. There’s just no privacy in this setup. A human resource officer who occasionally talks to a superior regarding the suspension or sacking of an employee will have to bear the awkwardness. There’s also the danger for everyone to unwittingly share too much information. Additionally, not everyone may be able to tolerate the distractions caused by other employees near them.
If your company can’t afford to move to a bigger office yet, the following tips can help address the challenges of a shrinking office space.
Consider the idea of working from home.
Sure, working from home does not work for everyone but it is a good enough compromise for many. It does not necessarily provide an all-encompassing solution but it can be a way to free up space in the office and let employees work wherever they feel more comfortable. With the advancements in Internet technology, there should be no reason not to consider letting employees work remotely, especially when their jobs don’t really require them to be physically present in the office. Some companies even resort to business process outsourcing services overseas.
Understand people’s need for a personal space and break from work.
Everyone needs privacy so it is inevitable for employees to leave their desks every once in a while. A company should not implement rules that are too restrictive, like policies that don’t allow employees go somewhere to make their personal telephone calls to have a breather from being in the same room with everyone else. Not everyone is fond of being in constant contact with people.
Provide a private space available for everyone.
It shouldn’t hurt the company’s finances to put up a private space where employees can relax and stay away from their colleagues for a short while. It can be a small room with a desk, books, magazines, or a Wi-Fi connected tablet. This will serve as a room for breaks separate from the mezzanine (if the company has one) intended for those who want to have a smoking break. It’s important, however, to emphasize that this private room should only be for temporary use, and that nobody should claim it for their exclusive or extended use. Some employees may reserve it for a number of hours of exclusive use when they need to work on a certain project without interruption.
Offer sound-cancelling earphones.
Noise and distraction caused by other employees are two of the most common complaints of those who work in an office separated only by cubicles. The loud typing, chatter, telephone conversations, and rowdiness of other employees can be frustrating to some. These can be easily addressed by providing noise-cancelling earphones to employees. If noise cancelling earphones are expensive, quality standard earphones may already suffice. Playing music while working may already minimize the distractions in the office.
Play music in the office.
This may not suit everyone but it’s worth considering. Music is a good way to set the mood. It can help create a somewhat homogenous atmosphere as it reduces widely varying noises produced by everyone in an office. Noises and distractions are amplified with silence as the background. When music is played, the chatter, the keyboard sounds, the other irritating noises will become less noticeable. Also, if the playing of music is directed by the management, other employees will no longer try to play their own music that may lead to conflicts with other employees. Ask employees what kind of music they want to hear.
Rent coworking spaces or hot desks.
There are instances when there is a need to work on a project and the team members need uninterrupted access to the Internet, printers, and other office resources. However, it’s difficult to simply provide for such needs without inviting complaints from others. If you are not willing to invest in additional resources or space, it would be better to just rent coworking spaces. You can easily find these spaces online through FlySpaces. Similarly, if you have trainees and you no longer have enough space for them in your office, you can just send them to train elsewhere by renting a training room or by renting hot desks for them. You just have to communicate with them through the Internet.
It’s important to offer solutions to the problems encountered by employees working in a cramped up office to help them maintain or boost their productivity. Just make sure that the solutions you are implementing are effective. Be sure to regularly assess if your solutions work and don’t just implement and forget. Observe and get regular feedback. The issues associated with a physically and psychologically restrictive workplace should not be ignored.