Creating an efficient office workflow often requires significant consideration and effort, and yet it can also be a much simpler exercise than you might expect. While every office is made unique by the people working within it, certain principles can be applied to the benefit of almost any work environment.
Keep Working Relationships Professional
In any office with multiple staff members, interpersonal relationships have the potential to set your perfectly smooth path off course. An approach that is either too warm or too cold can seriously upset the balance, so aim for a pleasant, middle-ground warmth. This means any interoffice gossip or overly personal conversation is off the cards. Beyond the obvious discomfort these approaches can create, your colleagues will not respect or trust you as much if they believe you lack personal integrity, and they will likely be wary of you if you attempt to force a transition from professional to personal bonding.
Take Advantage of New Technologies
In a world where intuitive technological developments are unleashed all the time, there’s no reason why efficiency shouldn’t be on an upwards trend. New technology really can make a notable difference to the way your office operates, whether your latest upgrade involves a suite of snazzy computers, projectors in the boardroom, or new duplex-capable printing gear (more information on Ink Station). While you’re busy transforming your office, just don’t forget to maintain an appreciation for the value of face-to-face interaction in the interest of clarity, efficiency, and good old humanity.
Make the Rules Clear
Every office should have a clear-cut standard, not only for work but for everything that happens in the workplace. This often includes rules governing dress standards, use of technology, and schedule requirements. Rules like these reflect the value your employee’s place on their personal integrity and their position in the company, whilst also helping to set the right tone and mindset for work. Having clear-cut rules, especially around things like work deadlines and the use of personal mobile phones, makes it easier to deal with any problems in the event that they arise. Similarly, there should be rules about the use of office pods (see MEAVO as a reference). Employees should be mindful of others and not spend the house inside while others may need to make a call.
Every office needs a lynchpin in the form of a leader, and while it’s great if that leader is across all of their own tasks, it’s even better if they’re also involved in other areas of the business. By maintaining some level of involvement in every level of your business operations, not only can you minimize the chance of any unexpected disasters cropping up, but you’ll also develop a more in-depth perspective on potential improvements to your current working arrangements. One thing you need to be careful about is not to “stand over their heads”, that could make everyone uncomfortable and worried not to make the smallest mistake. That is not a good working environment.
Automate as Many Tasks as Possible
It’s no secret that anyone with a job that involves instructing or monitoring staff members has a lot on their plate at any given time, and it’s often those tasks involving direct human interaction that earn their place amongst top priorities. Once you know what you need to prioritize, it becomes far easier to eliminate or automate certain tasks that simply aren’t worth as much time.
Manage Your Work Effectively
By organizing a system for your own workload and sticking to it, you will be setting a positive example for others in the office and demonstrating the value of prioritization. The research around multi-tasking has essentially proven that it is a far less effective practice than previously thought, and typically leads to a reduction in the quality of work produced. Conversely, it turns out that the best way to optimize workflow is by encouraging all staff to plan and set time-bound goals, breaking large projects down into smaller steps, and focusing on one step at a time. After all, one small step for each staff member adds up to one giant leap forward for your office.
Keep Your Staff Happy
This may be the most important thing you can do to optimize workflow since the quality of your people ultimately determines the quality of your output. Start by giving your staff a comfortable working environment and encouraging them to make healthy choices, both at work and on their own time. Not only will this make it easier to accelerate the to-do list, but it will also let them know their physical and mental health are valued at work. Then go one step further and encourage staff members to take ownership of their space. Research suggests that personalizing your office space is conducive to happiness, health, and productivity, as long as it is kept clean and free from clutter. All you have to do is consider the small ways you can boost the mood in your office, and observe the significant positive changes to workplace morale.
Show Employee Appreciation
This is one of the most important steps to run a successful business. Keeping your employees happy will bring you more than you can imagine. Make sure you listen to what they are saying and give them a chance to put their ideas into practice. If they do a good job find a way to show them your gratitude. There are many ways you can do that and it doesn’t need to include giving them money. Tell them in front of everyone that they did a good job, give them extra time off work, or make a small office party. If you want to do more you can always give them a bonus or increase their salary. Try to connect with your employees but celebrating their birthdays, organize a team building somewhere they all can enjoy. This way you will push others to do the same and your business will bloom.
In the era of the modern workplace, an office filled with efficient strategies and operations is less an unattainable fantasy and more an essential tool for motivation and success. Fortunately, boosting efficiency is often as simple as boosting the mood and setting a great example, which means you can make a tangible difference simply by bringing your best to work.