Boston office

Running a business in a closet isn’t easy. Good luck finding privacy to make that important phone call.

My 25-strong team dealt with a closet-like office that made productivity a struggle. The mazelike layout meant we were always slamming doors on each other, tripping over stuff, and overhearing everything.

Then, everything changed.

How a Move Can Improve Company Culture

When we moved into an open-plan office in the center of Boston, we saw a huge shift in productivity and morale. Not only did our physical building change, but our company culture also changed with it. Moving to our new location fostered:

  • Pride. Moving to a more spacious, custom-designed office was a huge milestone for us. Every time we come into work, we’re reminded of how far we’ve come. In the startup world, it can feel like the highs are really high and the lows are really low, so having a visible sense of achievement every day is great for motivation.
  • Less stress. Stress is bad for business. In a tiny office, your blood pressure rises every time you trip over a power cord — or a co-worker — or have to kick a teammate out of his normal workspace to have an important meeting. Having a comfortable space that’s optimized specifically for your team can reduce tension and literally cut down on the headaches.
  • Boosted productivity. Employees who feel valued by their employer actually do better at work and are less likely to seek other employment opportunities. What better way to show your employees that you care than by creating an amazing workspace for them? A calm, inspiring environment is the key to unbreakable concentration, and enhanced productivity is sure to follow.
  • A recruiting advantage. First impressions count. When we invite candidates to interview, we know that the office is a passive participant in that interview, showcasing the fact that we care about our people and our physical environment.
  • Customer confidence. In the beginning, our scrappy, closet-like office was cozy, but as we grew up and started playing with the big kids, we needed our space to reflect our brand and our professionalism. Now that our personality is clear to visitors and clients, they have more confidence in us.

How to Make the Best of Your Relocation

An open-plan office in the middle of a big city was the right option for us, but it might not be right for you. It’s important to really consider your company’s personality and goals before signing a lease for the trendiest spot downtown. Here are four key factors to consider when choosing a location: 

1. Identify your team’s collective values. We listened to every member of our team when deciding where to move. Our new spot is close to convenient subway stops, and it’s in the center of the city surrounded by Boston culture, so we’re investing in local real estate. Our space now reflects the collective values of the team.

2. Don’t neglect the details. When New York City-based MindBodyGreen relocated, it added unique features to the interior of the office to reflect its personality. MindBodyGreen incorporated artwork custom-made for the company by a local artist and a conference table made from reclaimed wood. It’s the small details that really turn an office into a second home.

3. Consider your workflow. We specifically wanted a big, open space so we could easily collaborate but also separate when we needed privacy. So we arranged our office with an open, comfy couch area and “pods” for workspaces. Having options is great for us; it segments the workday, making us more productive and less stressed.

4. Think ahead. Your company is in a constant state of change, so you should choose and design your new space to suit where you think you’re headed. If you’re a fast-growing startup, look for extra space. If your company structure is likely to change, choose an open layout with plenty of room for rearranging.

By tailoring your office space to the needs and personality of your company, you can create a unique environment that helps you do your best and grow as a team. You can actually be excited to hang out at work. Just remember to go home occasionally to feed the cat.

Veer Gidwaney is the CEO and co-founder of Maxwell Health. Maxwell Health provides a SaaS platform through health insurance brokers that drastically reduces the headaches associated with employee benefit systems. Tech Cocktail recently named Maxwell Health the “Hottest Startup in the Nation” in 2013.  

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