Why Office Details Matter More Than You Think

Every decision is, in its own small way, a reflection of your company and culture.

This article was originally posted via Inc.

 

I'm a firm believer that details matter -- in business and in aesthetics. My co-founder and I are intimately involved in all of the design decisions of our offices. It's something we take great pride in and deeply enjoy. But what I've come to find is that the things we often think matter in the midst of a build-out isn't necessarily the most important.

Sure, it's essential to make sure all the nuts and bolts are in place, but the features our clients most often notice (and that have become so essential to our day-to-day routine) are sometimes the smallest touches. In fact, I truly believe these three aspects of our office environment are the most essential and telling of what makes our company unique and speak to the way in which the unexpected details help define our culture:

 

Chairs

Let's face it: Most of us spend a fair amount of time sitting down at work. Additionally, since our students frequently take 3.5-hour practice exams in our office, they do quite a bit of sitting as well. In our first office, we ordered about 50 chairs that we ended up not using. One day, my co-founder overheard a student complaining about how "uncomfortable" his chair was.

The next day, we placed an order with Herman Miller and called a local nonprofit to donate our original set. Moral of the story: It's not just about function. Think about the key operations in your business and make sure they're not only being carried out in the most efficient way but are also the most client- and staff-friendly. Now, when we order furniture, we don't just think about what will simply fulfill its purpose but rather what will enhance the experience of being in our office.

 

Paper Notebooks

I'll admit, I probably spend way too much time staring at a screen on any given day. But there's one thing in my office that I absolutely cannot live without (OK, besides my computer): My notebook is an essential but easily overlooked staple of my work life. I make a rule never to open my laptop in client meetings.

Writing on paper keeps me present in the conversation, allows for greater eye contact, and helps me to process and prioritize my conversations when I transfer the handwritten notes into our client database. As a result, we now give all new employees a personalized notebook when they start at our firm. We don't require anyone to use them, but it's exciting to see more and more of our team members becoming pen and paper adopters.

Consider the pieces of your daily routine that matter most to you, and build them into your aesthetic and your processes. But first, be sure to lead by example.

 

Fresh Flowers

Each week, I look forward to our scheduled office flower delivery. We have two fresh arrangements at any given time: one for our front desk and the other for my office. Admittedly, I never thought about this in our original build-out plan, but it's something that I have come to love. The flowers add life and color to the environment and keep it from feeling static.

Truth be told, it's hard to know how much others notice the weekly changes, but the arrangements make me smile, and since the office is where I'm spending the majority of my time, they keep me motivated and uplifted. Find whatever it is (whether it means lighting a special candle, installing a high-tech sound system, or setting up food deliveries) that makes your office a place you want to work in. When building a business, everything matters.

Every decision is, in its own small way, a reflection of your company and culture. I've learned that sometimes there are unexpected inspirations and lessons to be found in the details -- both in your office and, if you make a point of looking, in the world beyond your desk.

 

-Lindsay Tanne, Co-Founder and COO