9 steps to maximize your office's efficiency

March 12, 2019

With spring finally here, agents probably aren't spending as much time in the office these days as they did just a few months ago in the thick of winter. With that in mind, taking some time to find ways to boost efficiency and productivity within that space could be a good idea for any broker to tackle in addition to their other work.

Here are just a handful of ideas that could help them get a little bit more out of their office space:

1) Act like you're selling a home

One of the biggest impediments to a smoothly functioning office is the fact that, in a lot of cases, they can get a bit cluttered over time, according to LifeHack. As a consequence, if you can take a little time to declutter, just as you would if you were a homeowner putting your house up for sale, you're likely to see things move a little more smoothly. People may have an easier time finding documents or other items they need, or just getting around, once a winter's worth of unneeded stuff gets purged.

And just as you would with any house, it makes sense to start in one part of the office and work your way across the whole floor plan, so that you know what's been addressed, and what needs to go where. This kind of office-wide effort may also give you the ability to look at things with a Marie Kondo-type approach: If it's not something you've used a lot in recent months, it might be a better idea to just get rid of it than try to find somewhere to store it.

2) Reorganize spaces

If people tend to work in your office in a sort of catch-as-catch-can approach, such as plopping down to work in the break room or conference room while their desk sits empty, it might be wise to re-prioritize. Establishing "zones" where certain types of work can be done may help reduce the amount of chaos in the office and make things a little more straightforward for everyone.

3) Label everything

Along similar lines, instituting a system where everything gets labeled can increase efficiency because it eliminates the ambiguity of where things in the office go. Whether it's having properly labeled supply closets with the paper clips and pens to the exact types of documents stored in each filing cabinet, the liberal use of a label maker can help everything go just a bit more smoothly, without any more hunting around for the items needed.

4) Have a system to stay organized

The problem for many real estate offices at this time of year is that there's a lot of foot traffic and, with it, a lot of items coming through the door, according to Inc. magazine. When that happens, all the work you might have done to declutter can be undone quickly. As such, it's important to have a system in place to make sure stuff goes where it needs to. Everyone should know where to put something vital to the business, such as important documents or office supplies, or personal items like their coat or yard signs.

When setting up this system, you might be wise to invest in an inbox for documents. Then, clear a space to put these supplies or install hooks where coats can be easily reached so they aren't strewn around the office.

5) Invest in bigger trash cans

A big issue that leads to office clutter overall, and specifically messy desks that make it difficult for agents and brokers to get their work done, is when the trash can gets full and no one empties it At this time of year, real estate professionals have a lot more on their plates than being able to take out the trash every couple of days, so bigger cans to be placed strategically around the office could be a small investment that pays off big-time.

6) Reconsider the open office

While they certainly have their benefits, an open office plan can also be detrimental in certain situations, according to NBC News. For instance, in open offices, it can very easily get noisy, which may make it difficult for agents or brokers to talk on the phone, concentrate on typing up a social media post or otherwise distract them from their work.

While no one is saying it's time to go back to cubicles, finding ways to create private spaces that affords peace and quiet could end up going a long way for agents.

7) Be flexible

Of course, when making big changes to an office space, it's important not to get too attached to anything you do initially. After all, you may try something and find that it doesn't work as you'd hoped or intended. As a consequence, it's important to listen to agents when it comes to what they like or don't like about the changes, and make some additional decisions based on the positives or negatives they present.

8) Invest in new furniture

One of the reasons offices can start to feel a little mundane is if the same old furniture has been there for some time, according to Square Foot. Something as simple as getting a new table and chairs for the break room, or replacing every agent's office chair with new models, can both improve morale and increase efficiency. Giving agents a say in what you choose could also be quite beneficial when it comes to keeping everyone happy at a hectic time of year.

9) Rethink the lighting

If you're rearranging the office anyway, you might also want to think about whether you can change how it's lit. Many people don't like the lighting in their office, and would especially like it if there could be more natural light let in. If that's at all feasible, finding ways to make that happen is good for everyone, especially if that sunlight comes in through windows in the break room, where agents can go to get some respite from the grind a stressful spring season.

Any or all of the options above can really help everyone feel energized and excited to come into the office, even when they're spending much of their time at open houses and client meetings.