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.
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:
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
- 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:
- Taking turns
- Assigning people to oversee specific areas
- 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.
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