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Commom problems in the workplace -- and what to do about them

There are many problems in the workplace that affect your bottom line directly, but as these problems grow and cost more and more over time, they are not always apparent.

Wasted space

There has been a shift from the cubicle outfitted offices and one-to-a-desk mentality to a modern, innovative approach to workplace design with open, collaborative spaces intended to maximize productivity. Unfortunately, without proper research, companies jumping into the trend may make the mistake of wasting a lot of valuable space. If the space doesn’t fit the flow of work, of if there are too many same-concept spaces, it can throw off the balance of where your employees chose to work leaving a lot of space underutilized, and therefore a waste of money. For example, and open office with only a couple of private rooms will find the private rooms getting maximal usage, while the majority of the office space is left underutilized.

While there is no magic solution to guarantee every space will be occupied throughout the workday, some careful research will help you maximize your space and your dollar. There needs to be a balance between the types of spaces available to employees throughout their workflow and workday. One way this can be achieved is by surveying your employees to find out which spaces they use, which they don’t, and what is missing.

No privacy

When the change to fully open offices came about, the idea was to encourage employees to collaborate together. Unfortunately for the 70% of people in the US who are now working in an open office, and despite how it can reduce productivity, companies are reluctant to look beyond the (up to 50%) cost savings of shoving their employees into a smaller workspace.

While the change undoubtedly was an advantage in some industries, over all, the lack of privacy for phone calls and lack of quiet space for focus can cause employees to leave their jobs in search of a more appropriate and comfortable, less stressful workspace.

The best solution is using a balance of open and private rooms to take advantage of the positive aspects of both. Open offices are usually more aesthetically pleasing, more versatile and flexible, and improve creativity, while private spaces provide privacy and quiet. Glass-walled, soundproof privacy rooms are a good solution, as are quiet lounge rooms. This will allow employees to use the collaborative spaces while still having the ability to find a private place to work when required.

Acquiring talent

The average person will spend approximately 20% of their waking hours at work over the course of their career. It’s not much to ask that they be able to enjoy that time.

Attracting and keeping good talent is difficult. Most companies hire to fill gaps in their workforce, not necessarily a top talent or a good fit for the company. This reactive style recruitment causes problems with retention. Unfit employees can end up costing a company a lot of money in terms of productivity loss and wasted training. Even large, established companies have this problem. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh estimates that bad hires had cost the company “well over $100 million.” He goes ahead to say that a bad hire also runs the risk of ruining morale and contributing to loss of productivity, forcing good employees to quit.

For potential employees to be able to get a sense of your company, having a social media presence is essential. Company news, learning materials, blogs and success stories all help potential employees evaluate a company and help them decide if the work culture would be a good fit. reports that as many as 85% of people are unsatisfied with their jobs. The cost of having to rehire is expensive; the average cost to replace an employee is twice their salary, double that for top performers. To make sure that top talent stays with you, it’s vital that you invest in them. The easiest way to do that is by offering benefits. These can range from vacation time and gym memberships to access to new technology, equipment and training. Give them opportunities for advancement. Satisfied employees will increase productivity and, happy in their jobs, are great ambassadors for future employees.

Don’t be afraid to ask your top employees for feedback. What drew them to your company? What do they like about their job? What do they wish they could change? Make changes to your structure accordingly, and show your employees that you value their feedback, and that you care about their needs.

Outdated office equipment

Just because your old office equipment works doesn’t mean it’s worth its upkeep. Extra costs for maintenance and the lost productivity that comes with downtime and slow operation, as well as potential security risks, can easily outrun the cost of an upgrade.

It also has directly negative effects on your employees. Most people are used to cell phones, laptops, and high-speed internet and will find outdated and slow equipment frustrating. Outdated equipment sends your employees the message that you are not invested in their well-being. Having updated technology, equipment, and software will lead to both an increase in productivity and in the happiness of your employees, both of which are a plus to your bottom line in the long run.

In conclusion

While none of the issues above are insurmountable, it is imperative that you spend some serious time analyzing your business in order to maximize the balance between spending and creating an efficient and pleasant workspace for your employees. Don't be afraid to keep open lines of communication with your staff -- it's their hard work that makes your business possible.

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