Are you sitting comfortably? For those on worn-out office chairs, in tired-looking offices, the answer may be "no", but if you are happy with the company in every other way, this may not be too much of an issue. Although it is always a bonus to work in offices that have been ergonomically designed and decorated to inspire. Anyone who has visited any of the top PR firms knows that these organisations’ offices are impressive, because looking good is a serious matter for the PR profession.
If you work for an organisation, the state of the office reflects the ethos of the company, and if this is not to your liking, then the company could be wrong for you too. If you work from home, like many PROs, then it is worth investing in a well laid-out office space. Teresa Horscroft, owner of PR consultancy Eureka Communications, believes that the office layout can have a direct impact on work performance, so ensures her own is motivating. She says, "I've always found that a clean and clear desk and office space helps me cope with the multi-tasking that is part of a PR person's daily routine. I've always been distracted by disorder – in the kitchen or office. In my own home office, which is in the attic space, I have paid particular attention to maximising the feeling of space – perhaps that's a hang up after the year I spent working from the desk under the stairs in a Guildford-based PR agency." Nikki Alvey, director of agency Media Hound PR, also works from home and agrees with Horscroft that it is important that your office space is inspiring: “It's about motivation. My own office is perfect of course!”
As well as your indoor surroundings, you can also be stimulated by the view from the window. Andy Turner, founder of agency Six Sigma PR, compares his present bliss with his past hell: “I once stared out onto a grubby London office fire escape with constantly shagging pigeons my only distraction. Now I'm fortunate enough to have a panoramic mediaeval roofscape, a foreground of rolling vineyards and a backdrop of mountains as the view from my office in the south of France – plus a sunny roof terrace and a well-stocked fridge. You can guess which I think is more inspiring. But I do miss the pigeons.”
Health and safety
Aesthetics may be a matter of taste, but when it comes to making sure your office is safe, then there are basic guidelines office owners need to know about. Neal Stone, head of policy and public affairs at the British Safety Council offers tips for staying safe in the office:
“Thousands of workers are experiencing work-related injury and ill-health week in, week out. And it is not just risky industries where accidents and ill-health occur. Working in an office might pose far less risk than working on a building site, but the risk of injury and ill-health is still very much present. Common risks faced by office workers include injuries and ill-health resulting from slips trips and falls, heavy lifting, violence at work, stress and faulty electrical equipment.
“Injuries from lifting and falling account for nearly two thirds of all office-based accidents. Practical advice on how to identify and manage risks to health and safety in your office can be accessed online free of charge on the Health and Safety Executive’s website. Take a look too at the British Safety Council’s report on transforming workplace health and safety - which includes a case study featuring the international lawyers Linklaters and the approach it took to creating awareness of office-based risks to health and safety and the improvements and benefits achieved.”
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