Local business owner Thom Baker seeks to leave Columbia a gift when he retires. Tucked away in his equipment-lain home office, Thom Baker of...
The weather is warm and rainy, the flowers are blooming, and the birds are singing. Spring is here, and that means it’s time for spring-cleaning. I’m not asking you to get out your bucket and sponge and start scrubbing, though that is something to think about. The kind of spring-cleaning that I speak of is more about pruning and pulling weeds to make the buds of your business bloom.
In this case, the buds are your employees, and there are two ways to make them bloom. Clean and organize workspaces, and try to improve your office culture through training and team strengthening.
Here at Visionworks, we’ve been focusing our attention on organizing our office. We started by cleaning out things that we don’t need anymore, such as the Apple laptop I purchased in 1991. We’ve been tagging things in storage areas for donating, recycling and keeping. I recommend a color-coded system so anyone can easily distinguish which items are in each category. It’s a lot like pruning a garden. By getting rid of the old pieces, you make room for growth and innovation.
Organization can be a huge productivity booster. If you don’t have to spend 20 minutes looking for a hole punch, it’s a lot easier to keep your documents organized in a categorized binder, which makes it easier to find documents that you might look for in the future. So take a few hours to organize now, and save a lot of time later.
For us, it was also time to look through the technology and computer programs we were still using. Make sure that everyone has the equipment required to do their jobs well, current programs to maximize efficiency and the memory space they need on their computers. When updating computers with new programs, it’s a great time to back up files. Of course, you should be doing this regularly, weekly or even more often, but if you haven’t updated off-site storage recently, do it now. And implement a standardized off-site backup system if you don’t have one already. Off-site backup is really important in the case of an emergency or natural disaster.
In addition to physically cleaning up your office, spring-cleaning is an opportunity to see your employees blossom with newfound knowledge. Give the go-ahead for a couple of training seminars or conferences. Fresh ideas can bring new life to your business. Some of our favorites are online webinars. Webinars are great because you can pull knowledge from experts from around the country without leaving the comfort of your desk.
Updating your corporate culture can be a great spring-cleaning activity. Forget the stale winter practices, and bring on the sun. In an effort to boost morale, we’ve been doing creative team-building activities and going on afternoon ice-cream runs. You could also plan an office happy hour or take your staff meeting outdoors on a nice day. (I always loved it when my high-school or college teachers moved classes outside.) Doing small things to add a little variety every once in a while can go a long way when it comes to motivation. Promoting teamwork is another employee motivator, so that employee softball team is good for more than just beating your rival. It can make your employees more efficient at the office. It’s also a good way to work off all the creative inspiration (ice cream) that was consumed.
When you think about the time investment in spring-cleaning, think about all of the long-term benefits your business will see in your organization and your employees. I know I’ve seen the benefits of our spring-cleaning already. We can navigate to the back of the storage room, which means locating that banner I’ve been trying to find for the past year. Who knew so much could fit in one little room?
Lili Vianello is president of Visionworks Marketing & Communications, a Columbia-based, full-service advertising, marketing and public relations firm. Contributions to this article were made by Visionworks staff members. Visit them online at www.visionworks.com