Organize Your Construction Office Space

Organizing your construction contracting office space has advantages.

Organizing fundamentals

Establishing three organizing fundamentals in your construction contracting office will aid you and your staff to be more efficient and therefore, more productive. Yes, having an organized space will give you an advantage.

Benefits of an organized office

Taking time to organize your office space well allows you and your employees these benefits:

  • Knowing what resources are available
  • Feeling less stressed and distracted
  • Finding what is needed quickly
  • Avoiding accidentally throwing away something important
  • Gaining a feeling of pride and accomplishment

Before getting into the how of creating your organized office space, let’s take time to look at basic organizing principles.

Organizing principles

Keep these basic principles in mind as you make plans for organizing the various spaces in your office. They will aid you in making the best decisions concerning what goes where and why.

  • Leave room for growth
  • Group elements by the task
  • Store like things together
  • Label spaces rather than things
  • Stash heavy gear in lower places
  • Put frequently used items in places that are most accessible
  • Never label anything “Miscellaneous”
  • Look for ways and space to do batch processing

No matter how big or small your office space, these principles allow you to make the most of what you already have. And speaking of what you already have . . .

Don’t organize everything

Keep only what is necessary. Don’t waste your time storing the “stuff” you don’t want or need. Get rid of the things which are no longer of use. Dried up pens, cracked coffee mugs, and broken office equipment are all candidates for chucking. You know what I mean. There are likely plenty of things in your office space that need to be dealt with in one of three ways:

  1. Toss
  2. Donate
  3. Sell

Look at your space with fresh eyes. What is taking up space and serves no useful purpose? That doesn’t mean you should take down your family photos or remove the lovely plants; if they give you joy, keep them. But, keep in mind, if you happen to be clutter-blind, you may need to ask for help from others you trust.

Barbara Hemphill says, “Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions.”

First Fundamental – Establish zones

The first step in establishing zones is to determine which spaces are communal and which are private. (Each of these will be handled in different ways when you get to the third fundamental.)

Then, determine which functions will take place in each zone. Some zones are easier than others. For instance, what takes place in the storage zone is the placement and retrieval of stored items.

Other zones to consider are based simply on what types of tasks occur in each zone. A list might include:

  • Data entry
  • Customer Service
  • Human resources
  • Reception
  • Financial issues
  • Presentation or proposal preparation
  • Regulatory compliance

By establishing zones, it is easier to determine what furniture placement, equipment designation, and room allocations are needed to accomplish the tasks at hand.

“Ah, if only it were that easy,” I hear you saying. That is where the second fundamental comes into play.

Second Fundamental – Establish ownership

Who does which task? Beyond the fact that individuals have different needs and skill levels, there is a real situation that often different members of your staff wear multiple hats. The receptionist may also be the data entry person. Or, the person in charge of regulatory compliance may also oversee human resources.

Of course, cross-training is recommended and may skew office placement somewhat but knowing who is in charge of which task helps determine where to put all the “stuff,” which allows your office to function at optimal levels.

Think in terms of who needs which item most often. Be sure that the item is in or near the space designated to that person.

But, don’t get stingy. Sometimes it is helpful to have more than one given item. Here’s an example from our home. We have multiple scissors scattered in various places. There are the kitchen shears stored in the kitchen, several paper cutting scissors tucked away in a drawer in a hall, crafting scissors stored in each child’s craft “stash,” and sewing scissors (mine) hidden in a safe space in my room because they are used only for cutting fabric.

Third Fundamental – Establish systems

Remember, I mentioned zones would be handled differently in this section. For the most part, the private spaces you and your team members inhabit will be organized to meet the needs of individuals. Duties, skills, and work habits will lend themselves to establishing order and routine for each private zone.

Leading well in the organizing habits and establishing base expectations allows you to give your team members some amount of autonomy when it comes to arranging and maintaining their private workspaces.

It is the communal spaces that can cause some organizing angst.

Conference rooms, kitchens, storage rooms, and collaborative spaces can be challenging to organize and maintain.

Here are three methods which have been tried:

  1. Taking turns
  2. Assigning people to oversee specific areas
  3. Enforcing the expectation that people deal with their own messes

From experience, I’ll tell you the first and third usually fail. Here’s why.

You likely know how this story goes. It is titled, “Whose job is it anyway?”

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody, when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Putting space organization in its place

Use the three organizing fundamentals in conjunction with one another to determine the best use of each space in your construction contracting office.

Get rid of time and space wasters.

Start small (perhaps a desk drawer) and move to larger areas and spaces to complete the organizing tasks.

Develop a plan for organizing the spaces in your office. Let everyone on your team know what the plan is and how it will be achieved.

Expect your team to follow your example – for better or worse.

There is more

This article is the last in a 4-part series concerning organizing your construction contracting business. You can find the first concerning Organizing Your Mind and the second about Organizing Time,  as well as the third discussing Organizing Tech by linking through.

 

We desire to familiarize you with business concepts, which will make it easier for you to be a better commercial construction business owner through our blog posts. Some are new ways of looking at things, and others are refreshers. 

Schulte and Schulte Provides Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs! Call us 866-629-7735

6 Wacky Thoughts to Avoid in Your Construction Office

Avoid these wacky thoughts so your construction business runs better

Wacky thoughts and things come at us from every direction. Things which make us do a double take. And thoughts which have us putting on the brakes.

Some wacky things are just there, and you can’t do anything about them. For instance, unexpected weather changes and natural disasters.

On the other hand, some wacky things are rather enjoyable, like magic shows and flash mobs. (This is among my favorite flash mob videos – check it out.)

Wacky thoughts to avoid

In your construction office (more likely in your head) there are some wacky thoughts which you’re better off avoiding. Look at them as the “forest of doom,” and avoid them. Your day and your office will run more smoothly when you come to your senses and take the path away from that dreadful forest.

Wacky Thought number 1

I’ll remember this, I don’t need to write it down.

Ouch!

Everything from the gift you need to purchase on the way home, to the great idea to improve your construction contracting business needs to find its way to the written page.

This article from Dustin Wax on Lifehack explains why we remember what we write. It’s fun to see his explanation of the mental Catch-22 involved. “In fact, it seems that writing anything down makes us remember it better. On the other hand, not writing things down is just asking to forget. It’s a kind of mental Catch-22: the only way not to have to write things down is to write them down so you remember them well enough not to have written them down.” 🤔

 

Thus, here’s the kicker, writing it down means writing it down. Put down your phone, your iPad, your laptop, or other digital device and write it down! Read the article, you’ll see why pen and paper win out.

Wacky Thought number 2

Of course I’ll remember where I put this, it’s important.

When you find yourself at a loss concerning your ability to remember where you placed something – on purpose – it may be because you didn’t practice well enough what scientists call “effortful processing.” The thing is, if you don’t purposefully think about the placement in the first place, there’s no way you’re going to remember it later.

At first glance (and keeping Wacky Thought #1 in mind) you might think writing down the location would be the final solution. Turns out, you’re only partly right. Because there is every chance, over time, you’ll forget where you wrote it down. If you’re placing an object in a “safe place” because you’ll only need it every six to twelve months or sometime in the future, it’s possible you’ll need a better memory keeper.

Crazy as it sounds, that place is your brain. Yet, that depends on your ability to participate in effortful processing. And, writing it down can be helpful if it is a part of your purposeful processing.

It might look like this, “I’m putting Mom’s wedding ring in the treasures box at the back-right corner of my closet BECAUSE I want to give it to my niece in the future and it is a real treasure.” Write down where you put it and why you put it there. That will be a good memory boost.

And, if you do forget, here are some steps you can use to try to find your lost object.

  • Instead of panicking, sit down to think.
  • Let others know what you’re searching for, they may have seen it.
  • Use your own thought processes in your favor. If you were putting the object up today, where would you put it?
  • Yet, don’t assume it won’t be in a particular place because you would never put it there.
  • Conduct your search as if you’re a detective searching a crime scene – inch by inch.

If all else fails, buy another one. If you’re like me, you’ll find the original a day or two later. 😜

Wacky Thought number 3

This is a task I do pretty regularly, there is no need to put it on the calendar.

Even some daily tasks should be included as a part of your working calendar. “Pretty regularly” is too vague. Too vague in every sense of the word. Once a week tasks can be easily forgotten if you don’t have a calendar reminder.

Rashelle Isip, a professional organizer, productivity consultant, coach, and author, offers insight concerning why you should schedule tasks into your calendar.

She says:

  • Turn a task into a tangible item.
  • Focus on your work.
  • Have a record of your work.
  • Practice your time management skills.

You can see her complete article here. Check out the 3 tips she gives for scheduling tasks into your calendar.

Wacky Thought number 4

Why would I bother creating a checklist; I know the steps involved.

I am and have always been a fan of checklists. So, you would think I would have a lot to say on this subject. Truth is, I do.

Yet, I think Brett & Kate McKay, of The Art of Manliness, have said it all, better than I could. Check out their article here. They even include information concerning how to make an effective checklist.

Plus, I love that in the section of their article titled, The Power of Checklists in Action, they have a subsection titled, Construction.

Wacky Thought number 5

It won’t take long to check out (name your favorite social channel) after I make a post there.

My guess is, if you’ve had this thought, you’ve already followed it up with these words, “this time.”

As my mom, who was ever the lady, (yet could on occasion be brought to the breaking point of frustration) would have said, “My, my, I do believe that is a bit of horse do-do.”

There are 3 ways to avoid wasting time on social channels:

  1. Avoid them.
  2. Use tech to block them.
  3. Schedule them.

Using social channels to market your construction business is a good thing. On the other hand, using social channels to waste time . . . well, you know – a bad thing.

Because, liking, commenting, and being “social” on social channels is a good thing, it can sometimes be a challenge to know where to draw the line. What I’ve found that works best is to schedule social time. When the time is up, you’re done. You can schedule social for once a day, or for several times a day. Or, get someone else to help you or do it for you. 😉

Wacky Thought number 6

I’m just going to plow through this project until I get it done, I don’t have time for breaks.

I know, I’ve felt it too. There is a deadline, or a challenge, or something tangible on the table meaning getting this project done soon is imperative. Yet, taking breaks can have the effect of helping you do better work without wasting time.

Meg Selig, writing at Psychology Today, provides a summary of recent research and thinking on the value of taking breaks. She lists and explains 5 important reasons.

  1. “Movement breaks” are essential for your physical and emotional health.
  2. And, breaks can prevent “decision fatigue.”
  3. Plus, breaks restore motivation, especially for long-term goals.
  4. Breaks increase productivity and creativity.
  5. “Waking rest” helps consolidate memories and improve learning.

She also mentions when not to take a break.

She goes on to provide information concerning how to plow through when you really can’t take a break.

Great Thought

If you’ve walked into the “forest of doom” (and who hasn’t at one time or another) you can still find a path out. Practice avoiding these 6 Wacky Thoughts and see how much better your day, week, and office runs.

 

It is our desire this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting commercial construction contractors build better building businesses. http://www.schulteandschulte.com/blog/

Providing Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. Call us! 866-629-7735