One of the positive things I tell people about having started my own business is that I was able to "escape the cubicle farm."
Although I never worked in a classic cubicle farm with five-foot partitions, I did spend a lot of time in offices that featured uniform desks and computers arranged in neat rows. It was the same institutional and non-descript setting that exists in millions of offices around the world.
They were certainly functional but far from inspiring or creative, which was somewhat ironic given I worked in an industry - newspapers - that was driven, in part, by inspiration and creativity.
Having liberated myself from the cubicle, my home office is a stark contrast. It features multiple whiteboards, a large television, couch, refrigerator, stereo and a drawer with a good supply of snacks.
Aside from the fact that getting to the office takes less than 15 seconds, it is a comfortable and productive place to work. Putting it together has made me realize that too many offices are designed to accommodate workers but not designed to encourage good work.
As companies look for ways to inspire and motivate employees to work more productively at a time when lean and mean is still being embraced, there are major benefits to having an office that people like going to. This includes the lack of cubicles, which tend to kill collaboration and a sense of community in an attempt to give privacy to each worker.
A good office could mean a kitchen stocked with things such as water, soft drinks, coffee, tea and snacks. It could mean a lounge in which people can take a break or hang out with other people.
The goal is to create an office in which spending eight hours a day is not like putting in time. A good office puts people in the right frame of mind to work hard, efficiently and productively.
When I think of the ideal office, Media Profile comes to mind. The Toronto-based public relations agency (with whom I have a strategic partnership) has an open-concept office featuring beautiful hardwood floors, lots of plants, a well-stocked kitchen, and a lounge with leather couches. It's not only a good place to work but it creates a good first impression for clients and potential employees.
It is important to remember that creating a good office doesn't mean spending a lot of money. It takes creativity and a focus on making work feel less like work.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.