Professionals face a gauntlet of efficiency-destroying distractions every day in the workplace. Frequent e-mails, phone calls, meetings, and daily coffee breaks are just a few of the rampant, never-ending interruptions that threaten productivity. Too many of these distractions can be costly for companies. In just a single Friday, Google’s recent tribute to Pac-Man cost an estimated $120 million in workplace productivity according to the tech firm Rescue Time. You cannot shield your team from every disruption, but you can help create an environment that fosters focus, engagement, and effectiveness with a complete workplace makeover that minimizes the distractions in your office. A growing pile of paperwork, e-mails, and files your team deal with on a daily basis can make it difficult to concentrate on the tasks at hand.
It’s hard to even know where to begin the day when your inbox is overflowing and your to-do list is trapped under the mess. Deadlines get overlooked. Projects and documents get lost. Cluttered office spaces can leave employees feeling out of control and overwhelmed. And, stored files and the unavoidable stash of miscellaneous items can take up a lot of storage space that could be put to better use. To protect your employees from a landslide of paperwork and files threatening to topple your team’s productivity, follow this step-by-step guide to controlling the clutter in your office with a total office makeover to renew and re-energize your entire team!
Step One: Dedicate the time. The first step to a complete office makeover is to schedule and dedicate the appropriate amount of time. So, before you begin clearing the clutter, clear your calendar first. Schedule a cleaning day a month or two in advance to make sure it won’t conflict with your team’s important meetings, events, or projects. Depending on the condition of your office and the nature of your work, you may want to consider scheduling your office clean up for several hours, an entire day, or even for several days. Declare the time a no-meeting zone, and make sure your team is completely free to focus entirely on the project.
Planning ahead will also give you time to get everything in order for the big day, from coordinating trash pickup and recycling to making sure you have storage areas assigned and the cleaning supplies your team will need to get the job done.
Step Two: Identify areas and develop a plan of action. The next step is to identify the areas in your office that need cleaning and develop a strategy for tackling each project with the power of Pinesol. Your plan of action should include time for cleaning shared spaces like storage areas, work stations, break rooms and meeting areas, along with time to spend on individual work spaces.
Your plan should also include tactics for rearranging or organizing the office into specific zones that will be more conducive to an environment of focus. Tasks that require significant concentration like brainstorming, strategic planning, reading, writing, and development may be more successfully executed in designated areas, away from e-mail inboxes and telephones. Arrange work zones carefully. For example, make sure the area chosen for thinking and strategic planning isn’t next to noisy equipment like printers, copiers, and fax machines. Rooms assigned for meetings or conferences with important clients should not be located near the kitchen where staff members microwave aromatic frozen meals or their fragrant dinner leftovers. Brainstorming areas should create a sense of balance, community, and fun. Arranging your environment for efficiency can go a long way to a more productive – and exciting – workplace. So, start thinking outside the box for a better workplace environment.
Step Three: Get your team involved. Once you’ve determined a time that’s relatively free for your team and established a basic plan, assemble the troops. Communicate the cleaning day plans in advance with your employees. Make sure your team has plenty of time to prepare by informing them as soon as you determine a date, even if you don’t have all the details ironed out. Send a calendar invite to remind staff members to keep their calendars clear for the clean up.
Get your staff involved from the beginning by asking for their input on the strategy and plan. Assign team leaders or request volunteers to be in charge of common areas like conference rooms and storage areas. These individuals should have enough knowledge to be able to make executive decisions on things that need to be filed, stored offsite, or thrown away. Develop a sign-up sheet for different cleaning shifts for each area so employees aren’t stuck in the same room for the entire day. And, as the time draws closer, make sure everyone’s informed, prepared, and ready. You can even send them tips to help them clear the clutter on their own desks.
Step Four: Gather necessary supplies. A week or two before cleaning day, assemble supplies. You may need items like file boxes for storage, trash bags, disinfectant wipes or sprays, paper towels, and cleaning products like air dusters, electronic cleaners, and dusting rags. Be sure to stock up on file folders, hanging folders, and labels too, just in case. Create signs to designate areas so everyone knows where to dump trash, where to stack storage boxes that need to be archived, and where to put items to be given away. Print the cleaning shift sign-up sheets as a reference for assigned area leaders and your entire team. And, don’t forget to coordinate and confirm arrangements that would involve other departments or outside vendors for trash pickup and storage.
Step Five: Get to work. When the big day arrives, roll up your sleeves and get to work. Start by having your team utilize out-of-office messages for their e-mail and have phone calls routed to message machines or a receptionist to prevent interruptions and still make sure emergency or important phone calls are not missed during cleaning day.
Apart from files and records you need to be able to access easily or keep for legal purposes, eliminate as much as possible. Items that have just been collecting dust for years should be thrown out or stored offsite. Try not to keep things for sentimental value hidden away in a dark closet only to be forgotten. Be decisive and get rid of whatever you can or find a way to reuse it. Follow the action plan, clean out, and organize supply closets and filing cabinets. Create work zones. And don’t forget to give your team a chance to clean up their messy desks.
Step Six: Have Fun! Cleaning day may not sound exciting, but with everyone working together on a task that has immediate and visible results, it can actually be a great team-building experience. Since cleaning and organizing isn’t everyone’s favorite chore, find ways to make it fun and get team buy-in. Take Mary Poppins advice, “ In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap! The job’s a game! And, every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake!”
To help keep things fun and to reward your team, consider ordering in lunch for the entire team during cleaning day, or have someone run out to get a cool afternoon treat like soft drinks or snow-cones to keep everyone fresh and energized. If possible, let employees dress more casually for cleaning day since they may get a little dirty from the dust, grime, and sweat. You could even play some music that keeps everyone upbeat and moving. With moving boxes, furniture, and trash, cleaning day is hard work, but that doesn’t it mean it can’t be fun.
It may take a little time and some elbow grease, but your office makeover can help make over your team’s productivity and engagement. And, when you’re finished, the office will feel new, shiny, and clean, and you and your team will be glowing with the pride of their accomplishment.
So, what are you waiting for? Download this customizable cleaning day checklist and plan your cleaning day today!