Last month, after reading 5 Reasons Why Starbucks is the Only Office You Need, we were inspired to take a closer look at the traditional office with Part I of our discussion, Is Starbucks the New Office? This month, we’ve created an action-plan for how you can give your workplace that coffee shop atmosphere: a place where collaboration, creativity and productivity prosper.
While coffee shops offer collaborative work environments at low costs; offices offer privacy, guide employees with structure, and also provide the space for collaboration. Which leads us to our next question: how can we create a work environment that combines the best that Starbucks and offices have to offer?
Often, office environments are far from being ideal, which can make employees feel like their office is a trap. According to Maria Konnikova in her article The Open-Office Trap of The New Yorker, “..though open offices often fostered a symbolic sense of organizational mission, making employees feel like part of a more laid-back, innovative enterprise, they were damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction.” So how can you avoid stress, distractions in the office, and instead encourage employee productivity? Here are some tips for creating the ideal office environment.
1. Office Café
Part of the allure for employees of the coffee shop is the opportunity to get away from their desk. But what if you brought the café to them? By creating a lounge area or community gathering space in your office, with access to good food and coffee, your employees are more likely to want to spend more time in the office. If they feel “stuck” at their desk, this offers employees the option to bring their laptops with them and work at a community table in a relaxing environment, giving them a change of perspective.
2. Encouraging Breaks Boosts Productivity
According to an influential article by Phyllis Korkki of the New York Times, “A growing body of evidence shows that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity — and that skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion.” While it might sound counter-intuitive that more breaks lead to more productivity, when you encourage your employees to take breaks more often, you are giving them space to mentally recharge and come back with new and improved focus.
3. Relax and Reward
By having a friendly, open door policy, workers perform better. Asking for employee feedback about employers or supervisors through surveys or one-on-one meetings is an effective way to gain respect from employees and build employee trust. You can also create incentives or ways of recognizing everyone’s hard work, whether it’s as simple as a weekly team lunch or a well-earned company trip. Open communication with employees increases employee loyalty, respect, and performance.
4. Designated Brainstorming Sessions
Since coffee shops are great spaces to do brainstorming, bring the concept of brainstorming to your office. Once a week, have an hour-long, team specific meeting where you can bounce ideas off each other. This creates a safe space for ideas, encourages your employees to think outside the box, and a new idea from one of your employees can lead to your company’s next successful project.
5. Create the Coffee Shop Floor-plan
An open-floor plan, modern furniture, and common workspaces can help create the inviting atmosphere of a coffee shop. Adding color to your walls and vibrant accents give your office a life of its own and creates an environment where your employees’ productivity can thrive.
As an employer, the more you respect your employees’ needs for independence, encourage new ideas, and give your employees the space to grow, the more productive they will be. By creating relaxing environments, encouraging regular breaks, establishing designated brainstorming sessions, and regularly rewarding employees, you are building employee trust, confidence, and loyalty. Soon, employees won’t be thinking of ditching the office for the coffee shop, because everything that they need to be successful can be found right where they work.
Read Part I: Is Starbucks the New Office?