You may not think about it during the day, but your office layout can make a huge impact on your mindset and your work. With a few adjustments to your office furniture, you can design a more productive and pleasurable work experience.
What’s an office layout?
This seems like an obvious answer: it’s how your office equipment and furniture are laid out within a certain space. However, we don’t want to just arrange these items based on space- office furniture and equipment should be arranged to maximize productivity, creativity, and collaboration.
It’s that second part that many businesses fail to grasp. Your office environment should encourage you to get more work done and communicate with the rest of your team effectively- sometimes, these objectives aren’t easy to accomplish when you have a lot of equipment, a lot of workers, or not enough office space (or all three).
What are the best types of office layout?
Experiment with different layouts until you find one that best compliments your workflow. Try using one of these layouts:
Most commonly found in older office buildings, the cellular or cubicle office arranged employees and desks by rows and columns, often with low walls to divide people and (supposedly) retain their concentration. While these layouts still exist, they are gradually being phased out in favor of more open layouts.
Open Office Layout
In contrast, an open layout removes doors and walls as barriers to communication and collaboration. Multiple workers may share a single table, and the tables may be scattered throughout the space. These layouts have become more popular with startups as well as large tech firms as it encourages more immediate communication.
Directly inspired by an open office layout, a coworking layout also eliminates walls or boundaries, but is much larger and often shared among multiple companies. The coworking space may feature couches, shared desks, private or dedicated desks, or high counters. Coworking has the added benefit of encouraging cross-company communication and networking.
Some businesses may have unique services or products they work on and may decide to arrange their offices around the most frequently used equipment and machinery. For example, a startup that focuses on recording podcasts may strip their space and lay their computers, chairs, and other equipment around the recording microphone.
Match your company culture with your office layout
Ultimately, no one can tell you how to arrange your team, furniture, and equipment- you have to decide what’s best for your business.
One way to design your office layout is by basing it on your team’s needs and culture. Ask yourself these questions:
What does my business do?
What are the most common tasks each day?
What devices, equipment, or furniture do my team require to accomplish their work?
Open layout or cellular layout?
Collaboration or privacy?
Creativity or efficiency?
At the end of the day, these questions are about your business’s brand and culture. Ask yourself whether your space accurately and honestly reflects the team’s personality.
Cubicles are a thing of the past. According to BizJournal, 81% of office owners and managers say office space is “very important” when it comes to hiring top talent, and 78% say they’re “increasingly being asked for open-office environments” and “more collaborative workspaces.”
Where and how your team works greatly affects the end product of their labors. When you make it easier and more enjoyable for your team to work, you can look forward to a stronger, more enhanced version of your brand.
Work can be a grind, so it’s important to have hobbies on the side to help you relax, focus, and overall, stay productive.
We’ve compiled a list of hobbies that absolutely anybody can get into, but would take a lifetime to master. Consider setting aside some time each week between your work, family and other obligations to try these out and incorporate it into your routine!
With social media, people have gradually shifted their reading habits from concentrated reading to skimming for facts. Deep-reading harkens back to a time when people found solitary places to read long texts, often focusing on the symbols, themes, and concepts presented by the book. You can do it with any book, just slow down your reading pace so you can fully absorb each sentence with clarity. Visit Longreads for some other in-depth interviews, books, stories, and essays. Check out Novel Coworking’s list of 8 must-read books for 2018.
If you really want to stay productive in your free time, the best thing you can do is to exercise. Doesn’t matter what kind you do- whether it’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Crossfit, yoga, or just a quick run- getting your heart and lungs pumping can be liberating while helping you stay focused and energized. Look for gyms and fitness centers near your home, and try to fit in an hour or two of training before or after work. Above all, exercising can help you stay fit and healthy, especially if you sit in front of a computer at work for most of the day.
Everybody wishes they had more time to cook. The truth is there is time! Sometimes the biggest challenge is finding the right recipe- one that doesn’t take too long and doesn’t require multiple trips to the grocery store. Allrecipes is an awesome starting point. They have a gallery of popular recipes with reviews from the community, a recipe finder with ingredient search, and filters for cooking time or cuisine. Save your money, stay healthy, and develop one of the most important skills by cooking at least twice a week. You won’t regret it.
Writing a blog or journal
Writing isn’t just one of the most productive hobbies, it can also be a great method of recording moments, thoughts, and feelings, as well as a timeless way of communicating with someone miles, or even centuries apart. One way to practice writing is through a blog. Not only do blogs let you communicate with readers directly, but it has become a way of earning money for many writers. We recommend reading The Minimalists’ guide to starting a blog, which walks you through each step in detail. Don’t feel like sharing your thoughts with the world quite yet? Try out journaling. Journals can help you think through complex issues and emotions, without fear of being judged.
Drawing and painting
Similar to writing, drawing can be a powerful alternative to traditional communication, like speech or the written word. Drawing (and painting) can help reveal hidden emotions and thoughts, and revisit how we view the world. However, compared to methods of traditional communication, the barrier to entry for drawing is typically higher and is not often treated with the same importance. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain has become a popular introductory course and book taught by Betty Edwards. After just a few pages of reading and practicing, you too will realize drawing isn’t as difficult as people make it out to be, and can actually be deeply relaxing and satisfying.
Time is never wasted when it’s spent helping someone else. There’s something profoundly rewarding about using your free time to volunteer at a soup kitchen, contribute to a charity, or assist at a shelter. Visit Idealist and VolunteerMatch for safe matches with organizations and activities based on your skills and experiences. It doesn’t take much to make a difference.
Programming isn’t just about making apps or video games- it represents the language of the future. That’s why so many schools have begun teaching it as part of the curriculum. The next generation will develop software and programs that we’ve never dreamed of. But even as a hobby, programming will teach you new ways of problem-solving that can be applied to other fields and aspects of your life. Codecademy offers an easy way to learn through a code editor with a built-in tutorial and preview window. Harvard University’s CS50 course is just as good, complete with filmed lectures, problem sets, exams, and homework.
Travel and Sightseeing
Travel shouldn’t be limited to the once-a-year vacations! You don’t have to plan a whole month or save a fortune, you can start exploring the world on a shoestring budget. Try using Skyscanner, a website and app for tracking the best flight deals. You probably already know about Airbnb, but you can get the local experience and stay places for free through Couchsurfing. Want to stay somewhere fancier? HotelTonight lets you know which hotels have discounts tonight or the following night. Even if you can’t get away for a weekend, you can always explore your own city. You’re bound to find something you didn’t know was there before.
Have experience with dogs? Why not walk them in your own time? Get some cardio in your free time while exploring local areas and meeting new pups. On top of it all, you can make some extra cash on the side (some walkers make up to $20 for each walk!). Check out Wag!, an LA-based dog-walking app that connects walkers with pet owners. Check to see if your city is supported.
Here’s our advice- give it some time! Hobbies aren’t supposed to be stressful second jobs, they’re meant to provide some levity and balance to your existing obligations. Put in a few hours in each week, and you’re guaranteed to develop some skills and perspectives that can even help you in your daily work.
No one wants to work in a depressing cubicle that lacks any sort of inspiration. Design your respective space within the work environment—no matter how small it may be—into your own! Add personality. Decorate with flavor. Enjoy where you spend so many of your days. There could be a total genius inside of you that’s being inhibited by a boring workspace.
Of course, no two office environments are the same. You may be operating in a coworking floor, a private office space, or even working from home. Design and decoration ideas may differ greatly depending on your set, so we’ll cover each type so you don’t feel left out.
Shared Office Space Decorations
Hang up some art, quotes, and graphics
If you’re going to be sharing the same space, it’s important to make your space lively! Invest in some artwork or other visual, whether it’s inspirational, informational, or just light-hearted. Xcite Prom, a Novel Coworking client, set up their space to feature some words of encouragement and teamwork on one wall, and have a wooden map of their other locations on the other wall.
Add a mini accent wall
For a pop of color as well as a boost in productivity, you can install a colored glass writing board. Anything from photos, stickers, and magazine cutouts to goal lists, notes, and ideations can be stuck on to it. If you prefer a more decorative route, forget the board and throw in a chic art piece or framed poster that matches the overall theme you’re going for. The accent wall can be painted, which is allowed and even encouraged at Novel Coworking.
Show off your company logo
Be proud of who you are and what you represent. It will serve as a reminder of your end goal, whether it be in the short or long term. Moreover, a hanging logo will spread awareness by presenting your brand to the others working in the shared space. Novel Coworking allows brands to completely customize their office door however they please.
Small Office Decorations
Choose a color palette
Do you work better in light colors with pretty pastel accents? Do bright colors help jumpstart your day? Find a palette that isn’t annoying to look at all day every day. A classic choice consists of neutrals that have a strong emphasis on white as the foundation. It’s timeless, clean, and the perfect base to match any other workspace addition.
This has two awesome advantages. First off, chances are that your eyes are completely strained by the end of the day. A little extra light can make a huge difference. The type of bulb and shade matters too—consider bright, soft, or maybe even natural lighting. Secondly, the lighting can create a heartening feel, as if it’s the sort of lamp you would adorn your home with. It should be in the style that makes you feel more like you.
Bring life to your workspace
Having a few plants can go a long way. Take it from someone who’s bad at keeping plants alive—succulents are easy! Greenery is refreshing to be around, especially in a private office environment. Flowers are beautiful without requiring much work either. However, they do have a shorter lifespan, needing to be replaced quite often. Other forms of life, like goldfish or beta fish, are great to have as well. Believe it or not, they’re as easy to take care of as the plants are.
Office Desk Decorations
Set up a dual display
Sometimes one screen just isn’t enough. Consider creating a set up that allows you to use an external monitor with your laptop, or use a dual monitor computer. While it may take some getting used to, we promise that you’ll become a productivity master in no time.
Keep it simple
You don’t need any fancy sculptures or organizers on your desk. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to just keep it clean and empty. Taking the minimalist approach helps you remove clutter while keeping your mind clear and stress-free.
Use the essentials only
Maybe the zen approach is too bare-bones for you. Some people need the basic office supplies to get through the day, like staplers, post-it notes, scissors, and paper dividers. Pick only what you need every other hour, then put everything else away. Congratulations, you now have a lean and efficient workstation you can use.
People spend more of their waking hours at work than with their family or friends, and thus it only makes sense that employers should strive to cultivate workplace environments that promote healthy, happy living. One of the steps that companies have taken to enhance the workplace has been through implementing employee wellness incentives. These policies not only drastically improve employee lifestyles, but they also often lead to greater employee motivation and efficiency.
So, which wellness incentives should you consider offering to your own team? Here are a few ideas from some of the leaders in wellness.
Wellness Incentive Ideas
Dedicated Medical Clinic (Apple)
Apple has long been a favorite place to work- the company knows how to take care of its people. Most recently, the brand announced the launch of health clinics specifically for employees and families. In partnership with AC Wellness, the service promises to offer a “concierge-like healthcare experience.” Details are scarce, but career pages on AC Wellness’s website indicate the involvement of primary care doctors, exercise coaches, and care navigators. You don’t need something on Apple’s level for your own business, but having some sort of healthcare program or connection to doctors and medical facilities will ensure your team is protected in the event of an emergency.
Life Insurance and Disability Coverage (Costco)
No matter what line of work you’re in, accidents can happen. You may break a bone or contract an illness, and the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not you have enough money to look out for yourself or your family. Companies like Costco have begun offering life insurance plans to both full and part-time employees at no cost. Such plans include basic insurance and accidental death and dismemberment coverage. For eligible employees, Costco will even cover both short-term and long-term disabilities even if the accident or illness is non-work related. Startups can take inspiration from Costco’s leniency and take care of their employees whether they’re salaried or hourly.
Travel Allowance (Expedia UK)
Nothing reinvigorates and refreshes the mind like a good vacation. Expedia UK understands this and offers some of the most competitive travel benefits within the industry. Business Insider even called it “the happiest office in London”, because employees are treated to a generous travel allowance. As long as you’ve been with the company for more than 12-18 months, you’re eligible to receive between $8,500 to $14,000 towards vacations. Equally important is that by offering an allowance instead of a specific deal, employees have greater freedom in choosing where to go. For small and medium businesses, it’s not uncommon to start seeing allowances for fitness (such as gym memberships and yoga classes).
Company Vacations (Virool)
Sometimes the best way to bond with your team is outside of work. Company vacations can provide an outlet for stress while allowing team members to improve their teambuilding skills. Based on a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, 94% of vacations have a positive effect on energy and outlook upon returning to work. Virool, the popular video service, creates opportunities to explore and travel their local Bay Area and beyond. Previous trips include camping at Yosemite, getaways to Mexico, and wine tours in Napa. The company also covers trips to other corporate offices- including San Francisco, New York, and St. Petersburg. Taking your team on a brief trip, even around your home city, can help break up work and develop team relationships.
Free Gourmet Food and Snacks (Google)
Google was one of the first places to start a paradigm shift in how workplaces should look. Instead of the dry and dreary cubicles that most offices had, Google sported colorful murals, swimming pools, and even gaming lounges. Some people describe Google’s office as a college campus for adults. While Google employees benefit from free fitness classes, on-site massages, and fantastic networking opportunities, nothing beats Google’s free gourmet breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their campuses often feature coffee and juice bars open to any employee. Companies can forget how powerful a meal program can be- not only does it result in savings for the employees, it can ensure a consistently energized workforce, all the while encouraging employees to socialize and network with one another.
On-site Gym and Free Fitness Classes (Rodale)
Rodale is the publisher for some of the world’s leading health and fitness magazines, including Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Bicycling, and more. It only makes sense that the company would offer compelling fitness programs to its own employees. Rodale’s Energy Center is the company’s own gym, and it features free daily fitness classes for X-biking, core workouts, and yoga. The Emmaus campus also offers bicycles for traveling between buildings, and local, organic meals for purchase at affordable prices.
If you run a business, you can purchase special gym membership plans or fitness classes to encourage employees to be more active before and after work. Check your local gyms and fitness centers for more information.
Nap Rooms (Zappos)
Dedicated employees like to work late into the evening, sometimes to the detriment of their overall energy. Instead of prohibiting any resting, online shoe company Zappos encourages its 1,500 employees to take naps. In addition to nap rooms, Zappos has futuristic sleeping pods with reclining chairs, light/dark controls, and headphones for sleep-inducing sounds. We all know how energizing just 20 minutes of sleep can feel. Imagine going to work and taking a short siesta after lunch- you may wake up feeling much more energized and ready to tackle the rest of the afternoon!
Wellness incentives for your own business
These are just a few examples of wellness incentives used by the biggest industry names but don’t feel restricted by them. If you own a small or medium-sized business, consider tweaking these programs to apply to a smaller workforce while retaining the programs’ spirit and intent.
For example, free gourmet food may not be realistic for a startup, but a company meal every week or every other week can help reinforce a sense of solidarity and camaraderie.
While creating a dedicated medical clinic may be a large scale endeavor, basic medical coverage (such as vision or dental) would go a long way in alleviating the personal concerns of your employees.
At the end of the day, business is about people. When you look after your own team first, profits, positive customer experiences, and recognition will all follow soon after.
Searching for some more corporate wellness program ideas? Check out our previous article on the topic. As always, make sure to follow the Novel Coworking blog for more information and resources on developing your business.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or working a regular 9-5, work can be stressful and overwhelming. Especially in a world of smartphones and social media, it can be hard to find a minute and switch off. Thankfully there’s a free, simple, and healthy way to manage a busy lifestyle: meditation and mindfulness.
Why you should try meditation
People tend to discount meditation before they even give it a shot. A bunch of breathing exercises- what’s the big deal? Since the benefits of meditation aren’t instant, it can be difficult to see the value. Here are a few reasons to consider mediation:
Meditation can boost your productivity – Entrepreneurs and other busy minds will be pleased to hear that a few minutes of thoughtfulness can help re-energize your body and improve focus and memory. Even if you have a packed schedule, meditation will give you the tools to take on the day.
Meditation can give you a creative edge – Our minds are naturally busy with random thoughts and feelings (processed in the neocortex section of our brain) and can become overwhelming. Meditation helps to clear the mind, allowing thoughts to come more clearly, which makes communication easier.
Meditation can reduce stress, elevate mood – Stress is a combination of psychological and biological responses to a situation, such as a disagreement at work, or an issue at home. Meditation not only clears the mind but helps lower blood pressure through the act of breathing.
How to meditate at work
1. Schedule time
Meditation is something that needs to be scheduled, otherwise, you’ll always put it off in favor of completing a more pressing task. The best time of day to meditate varies from person to person, but many will agree that early morning meditation can be an effective way to start the day. Set aside 30 minutes, even if 10 minutes is the most you can do at the start. But try to make some time.
Meditating at your desk isn’t impossible, but can be a challenge when there are others sharing your table, a computer with ongoing notifications, or clutter all over. Find an isolated space to meditate, such as an empty office or even the bathroom stall. The fewer distractions, the sharper your focus.
I know it sounds difficult, but try silencing and even distancing yourself from your phone during meditation. Constant notifications and calls only serve to distract you. There’s plenty of time during the day to respond to the most pressing alerts, but for ten minutes, set even social media aside as well.
4. Fix your posture
Whether you’re sitting on a chair or cross-legged on the floor, effective meditation begins with a correct body posture. Straighten your back (but not to the point of discomfort), place your feet flat on the floor, and rest your palms on your lap. Face straight ahead as you breathe in and out.
5. Start with Shamatha meditation
There are different kinds of meditations to practice, but the foundation for most (and the best place to start as a beginner) is with Shamatha meditation. Shamatha is focused on deep concentration. Focus on the depth of your breath over other distractions. As soon as you catch yourself getting distracted, bring your attention back to your breath. For some, counting breaths may be helpful.
6. Listen to guided sessions
Sometimes meditation can be difficult for beginners. That’s when guided meditation can help. Some apps or recordings feature someone walking you through some breathing exercises. This video on YouTube is geared towards meditation specialized in overcoming anxiety and has gained over 12 million views. Headspace is another alternative, a free app on the iOS and Google Play store with beautiful animations, and soothing narration from Andy Pudicombe.
Here is Puddicombe giving a TED Talk on slowing down to better enjoy life.
7. Develop a daily habit
Meditation isn’t a single exercise, nor can you expect to feel a difference after a few days. It’s a daily commitment to set aside time to clear your mind. No matter how busy you may be, you should always have a few minutes to slow down, focus on breathing, and sift through the noise of your thoughts.
Healthier, Happier Living
We set aside hours to work on difficult and stressful projects, sometimes even ignoring the other facets of life. But we seldom set aside a few minutes to focus on our own personal health. Meditation is one of those activities that people “don’t believe in” because they can hardly believe the benefits.
The only way to find out is to try yourself. Take a few minutes each day to clear your mind, and focus only on your breathing. It might be easier and more helpful than you think.
What does it mean to have a growth mindset? Psychologists and business leaders should be familiar with the term, likely having first heard it in Carol Dweck’s 2006 book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
In the book, Dweck synthesizes over a decade of research into failure, success, and effort, particularly how one’s mindset influences all three. As the book gained international prominence, the concept of a “growth mindset” began to influence teachers, coaches, and of course, business leaders.
However, while the concept continues to be influential, there are a few myths and misunderstandings that continue to circulate.
What is a growth mindset?
To understand how a growth mindset works, one also needs to understand how a fixed mindset works. Dweck defines the two in a 2012 interview:
“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb.
“In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”
Put more simply, people with a growth mindset believe in success through self-improvement and hard work.
Key benefits from a growth mindset
Think Tank Demos UK and social impact accelerator Big Change partnered to release Mind Over Matter, a report based on qualitative and quantitative research on growth mindsets. The report included several interesting findings:
Growth mindsets encourage superior learning habits. Much of the studies conducted on growth mindsets revolve around academic settings. One study involving over 300 students between the ages of 12-13 and 13-14 found that those with a growth mindset were, on average, more likely to improve their grades. Growth mindsets don’t just encourage effort, but successful strategies and learning habits.
Growth mindsets lead to positive mental wellbeing. Research suggested that growth mindsets also lead to positive development. Those praised for their intelligence tend to exhibit less perseverance and overall happiness than those praised for effort.
Growth mindset improves workplace and career skills. Dweck writes in Mindset that growth mindsets are linked to more productive management styles. A 2007 study also cited that growth mindsets had improved negotiation skills compared to their fixed mindset counterparts.
How to develop a growth mindset organization
Growth mindsets are clearly a better approach to learning, well-being, and self-development, so how can business leaders and entrepreneurs incorporate the principles into their own brand?
Add “not yet” to your vocabulary
Language is a powerful thing. Words can have a powerful effect on our behavior, even if they are said lightheartedly. In her talks, Dweck introduces the concept of “not yet.” The premise is simple- instead of saying “I can’t do it,” or “I’ll never get it right” or any variation of the sort, shift it to “not yet.” It’s a minor change with major influence on what the team can accomplish.
GE CEO, Jack Welch, has become an iconic organizational leader for his management style, but also for his hiring philosophy. According to HBR, Welch prefers to hire military veterans and Big 10 graduates over Ivy Leaguers and spends “thousands of hours” training and selecting leaders. Those who embrace challenges and personal growth are likely to be happier and more productive than those fixed in their ways.
It’s not enough to repeat growth mindset platitudes like “don’t give up!” or “practice makes perfect.” Nor is it enough to simply be open-minded and willing to change. Growth mindsets require constant reflection, discipline, and feedback.
Similarly, no one person is completely growth-oriented or fixed-oriented. In reality, everyone is a mixture of both, and tend to waver between the two depending on the area and practice. Only through experience and continual improvement can someone strive towards the benefits from a growth mindset.