Follow us for updates

Business Blog

Read me like a book by starting at the beginning

Think Outside The Office

Date - 05 June 2017/ Category - Volume 2
Volume 2

You’ll have no doubt heard the phrase “think outside the box” before, well this is never more true than when applied to thinking outside the office because the fact is your office is one of the key boxes in your life.

No matter whether you’ve got great décor or a dingy old office (although admittedly the nice décor does somewhat lessen the immediate effect), your office will subconsciously constrain your ability to think outside the box just by the nature of being your place of work.

Early on in your start up you’ll cement a company culture, usually an unwritten status quo that’s passed on to new staff as you expand.

One of the key tools we use to impose a culture on our staff is the way we decorate our offices but even without a paint brush your office is having more effect on your decisions than you think.

Much like a kitchen or a bathroom, an office is known for one thing, being a place of work. If you burnt a meal in your kitchen you’d always remember it and the truth is something similar happens to your office.

Simply being in your office stirs memories of events good and bad and cultural traits you want or don’t. No matter your mind-set the fact is subliminally your office is affecting the way you react to things and you need to free yourself of those constraints in order to think outside the box.

It might constrain your creativity, or remind you to be less forceful with your staff over your ideas, but whatever the effect it’s stopping you being you; giving you creative block and worst of all you might not even realise it.

I’ve blogged in the past about freeing your mind in order to be creative, warming it up and getting in the zone. Frankly I find that most offices prevent creativity no matter how much we try to dress them up.

In this instance then there is a simple solution, get out of the office. I am never more creative than when I’m on the road, away from my normal place of work.

Being out of the office gives me time to think without the pressures of hitting target, paying bills or solving problems; it’s amazing how great it can feel to get away.

It’s not just me that feels this way, the fact is your staff feel it too. If you want to have a heart to heart, brainstorm or just a general motivational session with your team the best thing you can do is take them out of the office.

Not only will you help them relax but you’ll find that they open up more too; a favourite spot of mine is McDonalds but you can choose anywhere.

Some of the most forward thinking companies are catching onto this already. You might have noticed a recent trend by big start-ups or tech companies to try to shift away from the traditional office. Places like google have slides in the office and others have hot desks. Personally though I’m not a big fan.

Yes they help, but ultimately it’s the culture and experiences you have in the office despite the slide that count and the slide only delays the inevitable.

Personally I’m much more a fan of the campus type approach to situating big teams where your entire team isn’t holed up in one big office but instead are spread out over several offices within a very short distance of each other, perhaps with coffee shops, boutique shops and gyms dotted around near by to allow them to hold meetings outside the office and blow off steam too.

If I had enough staff I’d definitely invest in a campus type set up, like a mini village with different buildings for tech, ops, finance and sales, each reflecting their roles (and desired culture – which can differ slightly from building to building) but all centered around a community of places they can go to be free of an over arching culture that can stifle creativity.

Of course not everyone can afford their own campus, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have more than one office but even if there’s just you the front door is only metres away.

Read our next blog post “The start-up myth“.