Follow our 6 helpful steps to streamline your minimalist office and increase your productivity. Find out how to banish madness at the office!
Whether you work in a team of 5 or 500, great work depends on having a productive office environment. A disorganized and inefficient workplace, both physically and digitally, can have a dramatic knock-on effect on work performance further down the line.
That’s why we’ve compiled 6 simple ways to streamline your office space and achieve a minimalist office. Keep reading below to find out how you can achieve an organized, efficient, and effective minimalist office for your team.
What are the benefits of a minimalist office?
From multinational superbrands to fledgling startups, the office plays an important role in keeping day-to-day operations flowing smoothly. Your office space shouldn’t be an obstacle to productivity—it should support it with a minimalist design. An untidy, disorganized, and poorly laid-out office space with clutter makes it difficult for both you and your employees to get work done.
Imagine the chaos of trying to find a single invoice under stacks of papers, a desktop full of files you haven’t touched in years, no wall space from cluttered reminders and old calendars, and office supplies overflowing from your desk drawers!
Streamlining your office space into a minimalist office will not only calm the storm but also improve your productivity and keep your employees and your clients happy. Remember, your workspace reflects your business as a whole!
How to streamline office space in 6 easy steps
Step 1. Digitize your paperwork
Say goodbye to archaic paper filing cabinets and say hello to your new best friend—the cloud. Keeping stacks of paper, receipt books, and cash receipt journals around a minimalist office is aesthetically unpleasant, takes up a lot of space and creates clutter, and can cause unnecessary risks such as lost or damaged files. We all know just how easy it is to lose an important note amongst a pile of not-so-important ones.
With online platforms like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Sharepoint all offering digital filing systems and cloud-based file storage space, there’s no longer the need to keep printed documents lying around. What’s more, paperwork digitized in this way becomes much more readily accessible to members of the team when they need to get to it—eliminating the hassle of folder-diving and keeping documents, PDFs, spreadsheets, and other files contained, secure, and organized.
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The creation and editing process also becomes substantially more streamlined for documents stored in this way, with the ability for teams to collaborate more quickly and effectively than they would if the process was handled through email.
You may also want to look towards other paper-eliminating software and apps to truly become a paperless business. For example, rather than sending paper invoices, there are a wealth of apps and virtual mailbox services available that you can use to create and send your invoices digitally. That way, you always have a copy safely archived on the cloud, and you can eliminate the waiting period that comes with using snail mail.
Instead of relying on to-do lists, another great way to streamline both your office space and your team’s productivity is to utilize an online task management app. Having one place for you and all of your employees to manage workloads increases efficiency and removes the need for all those sticky note reminders you have hanging around your desk space.
Step 2. Reorganize the physical layout
As your business grows larger, the temptation to forgo detailed space planning in favor of simply finding “where an item fits” can be great—but a simple change of office layout can often provide big benefits for those willing to put the time in.
When it comes to switching up your minimalist office space, first consider the roles of each staff member: who will they interact with daily? Does their work often require focused thinking? Will they benefit more from the privacy of quiet, individual spaces, or spacious sections with less division and clutter?
Nowadays, many businesses are ditching the typical cubicle layout for a more egalitarian open-concept style. While this layout is meant to promote collaboration, according to Harvard Business Review, studies have shown open offices tend to decrease employee interaction by as much as 70%. Before making the switch, consider what works best for your team. We suggest discussing work habits and preferences with your employees before deciding on the design of your minimalist office layout.
If you have different workstation types, it could be beneficial to place team members who require privacy and focus (think developers, finance staff, and senior management) in places where they can put their heads down without distraction.
Whether you choose an open space or a traditional layout, you’ll want to organize the space in a way that provides clear pathways across the room, considering the desk space where people would be best placed for their day-to-day roles.
Finally, consider the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on workforce habits. With more people working from a home office than ever before, you may benefit from reducing your office size or even forgoing a physical office altogether for minimalist home office ideas.
For those looking to reduce their space, we suggest implementing hotelling stations instead of assigned desks for each employee. These stations will be shared amongst all employees, who can sign up to use them whenever they choose to come into the office. Having a remote-first policy while still providing the option to come to work in-person provides your employees with more flexibility and has the added benefit of being cost-effective for your business.
Step 3. Enforce a clean desk policy
From pens and scissors to notepads and sticky notes, these essential office desk items can quickly become a nuisance when they’re sprawled across every visible surface. A “tidy desk, tidy mind” philosophy in your office could be more beneficial than you might think, improving productivity, output, and focus.
There is a right way to do this. Have you ever searched your desk for a pen and found every stationery item except what you were looking for?
You don’t want your minimalist office desk to be too cluttered—but you also don’t want it to be completely devoid of office desk supplies. Being able to reach for sticky notes in the middle of phone calls or turn on standing desk lamps is handy indeed.
We recommend cutting down on mess by designating an area where staff can find stationery when needed. This could be as big as a well-organized closet or a few drawers in a common area dedicated to office supplies.
You’ll also want to enforce a clean desk policy to keep other clutter at bay. Consider purchasing desk and other office furniture organizers and limiting the amount of stationery at each work station to whatever fits in it.
Step 4. Simplify your receipt management and expense tracking
Like we talked about in step 1, nothing creates more chaos on a desk than loose papers. Receipts are small and tend to appear everywhere and anywhere if we don’t have an appropriate management system. You’ll find them hidden in your briefcase/purse, lining your pockets, or even taped to your monitor as a reminder to file them.
Perhaps some of your paper receipts are destined for the trash can—you don’t need to keep your daily coffee receipts—but don’t be so quick to throw them all out. You need to keep all of the receipts for business-related expenses.
Utilizing a receipt management system eliminates paper clutter, keeps you organized, and mitigates risk by avoiding lost or damaged receipts. This is a seemingly small step that will make a big impact on your journey to streamlining your minimalist office design.
That’s why we recommend Shoeboxed’s receipt scanner app. Simply scan your receipts using your mobile device’s camera and store them in the cloud.Turn your receipts into data and deductibles!
The paid version of the app also offers optical character recognition (OCR), which transcribes your receipts so you can easily sort through them and retrieve them using the search feature.
You can also use Shoeboxed’s receipt tracking app to scan and digitize other paper documents and business contact cards. If you’re looking to implement step 1, consider killing two birds with one stone by using this app for both steps.
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If you have a lot of receipts, it may seem tedious and overwhelming to scan each slip of paper. Shoeboxed subscribers can turn to the Magic Envelope service. All you need to do is put all of your receipts in the pre-paid, pre-addressed envelope and send them off to Shoeboxed’s headquarters. Our team will do the scanning for you!
See also: 10 Top Tools to Help You Go Paperless
Step 5. Utilize an online visitor management system to streamline office processes
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have introduced various ways to manage visitors to their physical offices to help prevent the spread of the virus. While some have adopted more traditional methods by using paper sign-in forms, others have chosen to embrace the shift to digital by turning to virtual registration forms instead.
The form is usually embedded into your company’s website. That way, your visitors can fill it out before their arrival. This not only cuts your business’ paper waste, it also prevents unnecessary contact between your staff and visitors if they present with symptoms of the virus. It also saves time for your office manager or receptionist, which they can allot to other more important tasks.
Depending on the software you use to manage the forms, you may have the option to develop reports that track visitors as well, providing a great source of internal data for your company.
According to G2, the top visitor management systems are the following:
Step 6. Clean up your computer files
So far, we’ve talked a lot about streamlining your physical office space for that minimalist look, but have you considered bringing some digital minimalism to your virtual workplace as well? We all know how quickly junk can accumulate in your computer. Before you know it, your “Downloads” folder is overflowing, your desktop has icons for programs you’ve never used, and your bookmarks are filled with recipes and articles you’ll probably never read.
That’s why we recommend taking a little time out of your week, every week, to sort through your digital files and delete anything unnecessary. You should also be grouping and organizing your folders to make sure they work for you. You don’t want to waste time searching for the file you need. There are a lot of great guides out there to help you get your online self organized. Here’s one we like:“The Best Way to Organize Your Computer Files,” by Thomas Frank
Frequently asked questions
What are the benefits of a streamlined, minimalist office?
The office plays an important role in keeping day-to-day operations flowing smoothly. An untidy, disorganized, and poorly laid-out office space makes it difficult for both you and your employees to do their job and get work done. Creating a minimalist office design has many benefits such as improving your productivity, keeping your employees and your clients happy, and reflecting well on your company as a whole!
When it comes to minimalist design, disorganization can create big problems. This includes hindering productivity, risking lost documents, negatively affecting employee satisfaction, and displaying a poor reflection of your company’s internal operations.
Transforming a workplace into a well-oiled machine won’t happen overnight, but the steps to get there don’t have to be difficult—and, by following our six tips to streamline your office space, you’ll be well on your way to office organization heaven.
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