The Skills Any Startup Needs To Keep Productive And Safe
By Business Desk
Friday, August 19, 2016.
A startup involves more than taking a great idea and finding the audience for it. Your services and marketing matter. But equally important is keeping things running smoothly behind the scenes. Making sure that everyone is as productive and motivated as they need to be. Making it easier to handle workloads and communicate in the office. Even making the best use of your physical space for better organization. In this article, we’re looking at the detail and organization that needs to go into keeping the office running like a well-oiled machine.
Picture by Geralt
Be firm with your finances
Before you start spending money on overhauling your office and your team, you need to make sure you have the resources for it. Cash is king, as they say. Keep accounting simple. Use a system of excel sheets that help you track overheads, expenses, payroll and the like. Make sure that you keep your personal finances and private finances separately. Instead of an LLC company, think about structuring yourself as a C corporation to make that split mandatory. This stops you from mixing the two up and leaving either yourself or your business with too little in the kitty. Look into business insurance for liability and property damage, too. You need to protect the assets you put into the business.
Keep it organized
If you’re working in an office space, what more can you do to keep it organized? Some will go about making a paperless office, but in a lot of situations, that’s not feasible. You have documents you need to keep a hand on. So a better-organized filing system needs to be set up instead. You want to stop yourself from wasting documents and money by keeping them easier to find and easier to protect. For example, looking at binding supplies here to keep them intact and a lot less trouble to move around. Every now and then, have someone audit your filing system. Sort things in date, or alphabetically, whatever makes it easier to look through.
Picture by Unsplash
Keep it productive
The work rate of your team matters. Unproductive employees are draining your resources, but it’s not always their fault. The work environment plays a big role in how motivated you can expect your team to be. Taking the harsh line with them isn’t always the right answer. Instead, think about how to get them to better value their role as well as their job. Reward good work. Spell out your expectations for them and why they matter. Teach them corrective measures when they mess up instead of getting mad. Of course, you also need to be firm with those employees who can prove a more toxic presence. Be on the lookout for identifying toxic behavior as it can often affect the work environment for others as well.
Keep it safe
Worker’s comp and liability is a headache for any business. More importantly, health hazards at work make your employees feel unsafe, less valued and pose a real physical danger to them. So keep ahead of any potential risks by developing a safety plan with your team. Set rules about keeping oft-used walkways clear and binding the leads that can come from a desk. Make the office more ergonomic for them, too. Try to use chairs and tables that put less strain on them. Maximize lighting to fight the risk of eyestrain. Be on the lookout for signs of stress, as well. Offer employees a change of environment and task if they are starting to really feel the pressure at work.
Picture by Ramdlon
Keep it legal
Keeping your employees safe is one of your legal duties. It’s not the only one, either. Getting into legal trouble can spell disaster for your company, so follow the legal tips that can keep you out of trouble. Set aside a legal budget to help you in case some trouble does arise. Ensure that your business isn’t infringing on any intellectual property rights. Be very careful about the places where you and your staff source assets from. Digitally, you need to look at the usage rules for images, music and other assets. If they require attribution, then make sure you provide it. Take any employee troubles like harassment or discrimination within the workplace seriously. Not only to keep yourself protected. You don’t need staff who create an openly hostile environment.
Use a unified language
You want to get employees motivated and on your side. There’s nothing to help achieve that like creating a unified language with them. If you really want them motivated to give it their all, you want them to be on the same page as you. Educate them on what the values and motivations of the business are. Make sure you get people who can get behind them. Then help them fulfill them by setting smaller goals and objectives. Set them in writing, perhaps by placing a big blackboard in the office that people can look to when they’re lost. Make short-term goals that are measurable and attainable. Ask your employees to shoot for the moon, but give them steps that will get them there.
Picture by Startupstockphotos
Fight work interruption
You can have the best team on your side, but there are all kinds of things that will get in the way of a working day. Sometimes it can be their fault, sometimes it can come from outside sources. The fact is that work interruption will end up costing you so you need to fight it. There are two kinds of work interruption. Internal interruption comes from the person. Perhaps they can’t stay focused because they have too much on their plate or get distracted by the internet. Block distracting sites including social media channels for anyone who isn’t marketing. Help them prioritize between their different tasks. External work interruptions include missing documents they need or losing internet connection. For the external kinds, it’s all about backup. Backing up your files, diversifying your internet providers. Even a backup generator can help in the occasional event of a power cut.
Make communication a priority
Goal setting is a great way to communicate with the team about the overall objectives of the team. But internal communication isn’t just about barking orders, even if they are barked efficiently. It’s about making it easier for the team to communicate with one another as well. Use systems that can help you archive emails and chat logs between individuals and groups. This makes it easier to reference past communication and make notes. Use workflow management systems to see who is doing what and how long they’re taking. That makes it easier to pinpoint problems and help them deal with it. Give everyone the chance to participate in team meetings, but limit individual speaking time. Even your own. It’s important you get 100% employee participation in communication.
Picture by Geralt
Reiterate your processes
Things might be running smooth for a while after you follow the above advice. But how do you ensure they stay that way? How can you be sure there aren’t more ways of cutting down lost time and running a more efficient office? You look back over it. Using lean principles, you can measure the current workflow through the office and make it quantifiable. Identify the ways that certain processes can be shortened. Take a look at the physical layout of the office and prioritize the placement of the most used equipment. You can even create a workflow map to get a physical overview.
Build your team
It’s not just your processes and your workflow you should be working on, either. It’s your people, too. Developing employees is an essential step of running a successful business. First, it gives them value and shows them that they can grow in their job. Secondly, it helps you by teaching them skills that your office needs. Third and perhaps most important, it can help them fill in the gaps if someone is absent. Missing employees are another costly form of work interruption and temps are a costly form of dealing with it. Making your team more versatile is much more cost-effective alongside those other benefits.
Be willing to outsource
You won’t be able to teach them everything, however. Nor should you jump to hire staff that take care of certain costly jobs. Instead, look to professionals who can surgically dip into the business to provide a solution then dip back out again. Outsourcing is not the devil that some businesses fear it might be. It doesn’t come with the huge costs of hiring and training, for one. It can also help you take care of needs that are temporary, such as the need for a visual design or a working site. Use outsourcing wisely and it leaves you and the rest of your team free to focus on the tasks that actually build you some income.
Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas of how you can get better results out of your staff and your office set-up. There are productivity, legal and health risks all over. Don’t let them trip you up. Plan ahead.