Celebrating the people behind British small businesses

How to create a productive workplace – on a small business budget

By James Lowery, Co-lead, Storey

When we think of cool, modern offices, Google, Apple and Facebook immediately come to mind. These big businesses have made headlines for creating workplaces that are playful, comfortable and let’s be honest, hugely enviable. Of course, they didn’t become the tech titans of the world by letting their employees play in ball pits all day. Everything, from the indoor putting greens to the gravity defying nap pods, is designed to boost employee productivity, attract talent and keep staff engaged.

Your small business budget may not run to such gestures. But there are still some important things you can learn from these large companies. Namely, how to create an attractive – and productive – workplace.

Take care of the admin

Larger companies tend to have more resources which means there’s someone to answer the phone, stock the fridge for Friday drinks, see that the coffee machine never breaks down and, importantly, sort out any technical issues on the spot.

At small businesses, it’s normal for all employees to muck in and take care of certain tasks over and above their job descriptions. The sales director, for example, might double up as the Chief Plant Waterer. And it wouldn’t be unusual to find the CEO with a screwdriver in their back pocket just in case a window or desk chair needs fixing.

All well and good, except when this basic office management stuff interrupts business-critical work. Our recent report on small business productivity uncovered that 67% of SMEs in the UK battle with internet issues. This recurring downtime has a huge impact on productivity and can affect business growth in the long-run.

SMEs need to make sure that their offices are well-managed at all times. They can’t afford for staff to be continually distracted from their key responsibilities. The workplace needs to support the company mission and help drive profit and growth.

Create some space

Another key finding from our survey related to actual office space. Too many SMEs don’t have enough room: 20% believe that better meeting room spaces would improve staff productivity and 15% said that an employee chill-out zone would do the same.

One thing companies like Google don’t scrimp on is providing employees with alternative work areas. As a small business, you won’t necessarily be able to afford any extra space for this. However if you can, go for it; it will be well worth the investment. There are also some affordable options that could make a big difference to how your staff approach work. Stand up desks or sofas, for example, are a couple of simple ideas of how you can create a more varied workplace within limited confines.

Build the brand

All big, successful businesses understand the importance of building a strong brand. They know that their corporate identity and company culture is integral to their success. Pay Google or Facebook a visit and you’ll know exactly what the company’s vision is from the moment you walk through the doors.

A strong identity is hugely important for company culture. Why? Because it connects your employees to the business and unites them in purpose. They know where they are, why they’re there and what their mission is. Big companies put a lot of emphasis and effort into building company culture and as a result, their productivity and staff engagement levels are high. It’s important for SMEs to replicate this, invest in their brand and company culture and, if possible, occupy a workspace that allows for personalisation.

As global market places become increasingly competitive, small businesses need to offer their employees an attractive, comfortable and well-managed workplace. This is key to retaining top talent, maximising productivity – and growing your business successfully.

Storey is a flexible workspace branded your way, designed for your team, supported by a friendly, effective service that frees you to focus on building your business.