How to Make Your Office Space More Productive (and Fun)

A guest post by Matt Schexnayder of SpareFoot.

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock (or your desk) for the past year, you already know that Austin is one of the most sought-after places to work and live in the country. With its low unemployment rate, low cost of living, beautiful weather and steadily growing economy, Austin has become one of the premier destinations for young professionals and seasoned executives alike.

However, Austin is not the only city that has taken off when it comes to recent increases in business development and employment. New Orleans is in the exact same boat, and Metairie is right at the center of it all. A big opportunity for people looking for jobs here is the rising number of startups. But aside from the obvious, what is it about these places that make them so desirable to work for? Put another way, what is it that makes Austin and New Orleans different from, say, New York or San Francisco? Is it the people? Maybe. Is it the culture in general? Perhaps. Or is it the unique designs of work space that make it so desirable for businesses and employees? I’m thinking that’s the one.

When you read old school articles about staying productive at work, they usually say things like take breaks, balance your workload, keep your work area organized and stay optimistic. While that is good advice, I think that can be taken one step further. Those things are what you can do as an individual to be more productive, but the question is: What can your company do to make you a better employee? The answer is simple. Create a work environment that people want to come to and will feel comfortable in.

How do you do this? I can’t speak for everyone or every company, but I will give some insights about what we at SpareFoot and other startups have done to make this happen.

It all starts with how your office is laid out. The idea is you want to have a very open feel that gives the office a sense of transparency. Your employees should not feel uncomfortable walking into another area of the office to ask someone a question. Instead, they should be allowed to approach anyone at any time and seek out their help. As an example, our CEO does not have his own office; he sits out in the open like everyone else and always is available to talk to his colleagues.

The other big thing that keeps employees motived goes along with the notion that you should keep employees happy. It’s important to take breaks, but it’s also important that they’re actually “breaks.” For some, that may just be a trip to the restroom or a quick cigarette break, but the options should not stop there. Encouraging employees to go for a walk, grab some lunch or play foosball all contribute to employee happiness. Recently, SpareFoot was named the Best Place to Work in Austin by Austin Business Journal, and we have to attribute a large part of that to our office. We work hard, but we play just as hard, and that’s the key to a productive workplace.

A recent experiment by U.S. News & World Report found that neither salary nor experience has a direct correlation to productivity. Instead, the experiment concluded that it’s the workspace and how people feel about it that truly influence how much gets done. This is exactly my point. People want to feel relaxed and enjoy coming to work, so why not create an atmosphere for that to happen? Both Austin and New Orleans are doing a great job at that, and my hope is that soon other cities will follow suit.

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