Setting Up An Efficient Office Space March 25, 2014 RICCentre By Joanna Hughes Setting up an office offers entrepreneurs and small business owners the unique opportunity to design a space that meets their unique needs. Determining the difference between an essential investment and an unnecessary expense can seem overwhelming, but maintaining awareness of your business’s specific needs will help you make the most effective strategic design decisions. Technology Matters While technical needs vary according to business, speed and efficiency are always critical in the 21st century global marketplace. Today’s customers expect both immediacy and accessibility from their business partners; selecting the right equipment is a large part of maintaining customer satisfaction. Investing in the fastest equipment available can help optimize the efforts of your workforce. An important related matter? Insurance. Failure to secure adequate coverage for your office equipment can be financially disastrous should a critical piece fail. Also, when your budget is tight, practice restraint by considering which pieces of equipment will get regular use. While a scanner, fax and copier are generally considered office essentials, an item like a color printer is often just a convenience. When you factor in the initial expense, maintenance costs and space constraints, outsourcing to a local copy supply store may be a smarter business decision. Software Considerations One of the most important software investments you can make is protecting your office from external threats. Anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-spam programs help keep your data more secure than typical system freeware. Productivity, billing, and accounting software are also necessary for most modern businesses. An increasing number of bottom line-minded companies are turning to cloud storage as opposed to more expensive on site servers for remote data access. While cloud storage may sound like a lofty concept, the premise is simple: data is stored in large pools by third party hosting companies. With cloud storage, companies only pay for the storage they use while gaining immediate access to information resources. If you currently utilize services like Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive, you are already storing your files in the cloud: it’s that easy. Go With the Flow The organization of your office space is as important as what it contains. Allow adequate room for storage and reference materials through a mix of large and small storage solutions — from file cabinets to pencil trays. These office essentials don’t just decrease clutter and improve appearance, but can also reduce stress and promote better flow. Go Ergonomic There are more options now than ever for products which promote workplace health and safety. Don’t scrimp on these areas: products which support health and well-being are an investment in yourself, your employees and your company. Additionally, by making the workplace more comfortable, you improve employee attitudes as well as reduce work-related injuries. After all, a worker who is aggressively combating big data skills concerns, is more productive when he’s not inhibited by an uncomfortable chair. Ergonomics isn’t just about having the right products, but also about how you use them. Consult the OSHA guidelines for best practices related to setting up your computer workstation. Even the most beneficial neutral body positioning can compromise your health over extended periods of time: be sure to adjust your backrest throughout the day, stretch, and take periodic walks to relieve accumulating physical tension. Lighting is also an important consideration — particularly related to intensity and brightness. While natural daylight is the ideal option, it’s not always possible. Seek out a balance of high-quality task and general lighting to promote a positive work environment and avoid everything from depression caused by low lighting levels to eye strain caused by excessive glare. Focusing fatigue also leads to eye strain; blink often to reduce dry eyes, and follow the 20-20-20 rule by looking 20 feet away from your computer every 20 minutes for 20 seconds, according to AllAboutVision.com. Participating in an Entrepreneur Workshop facilitated by experienced entrepreneurs can help you make the best office set up decisions, as well as address other solutions for today’s small business. And remember: your office space reflects your company, as well as the employees who work there. Pay careful attention when setting up your office space to create a more productive and positive work environment. Byline: Joanna Hughes writes on all subjects, including the latest news in the tech and business world.