Ask Achievers: How do I keep our growing office happy?

ask_achieversIn this week’s Ask Achievers, Melissa Young takes on one of the biggest side effects of growth: office crowding. Melissa is the office coordinator in the Achievers San Francisco office. She is responsible for growth and operations in SF, in addition to her many other Employee Success roles.

Dear Ask Achievers,

Good news: our company is growing, and growth means new hires! Bad news: we’re running short on desk space. The executives have a long-term plan to solve the lack of seats issue, but I’ve got a near-term problem of cramped and frustrated employees. What can I do to keep my team from jumping ship?

I feel your pain!  We are dealing with the same growing pains here at Achievers. While growing pains are natural and growth is a good thing, it can be difficult to navigate through these challenges. We all need our personal space and a cramped work environment is never enjoyable.

But it is important to remember that as a part of a growing company, you have to take the good with the bad.

Things are moving fast, every day is completely different from the last—it is fun to be a part of this! This also means some things—like seating arrangements—become difficult to manage. In the short term, we do what it takes to fit everyone in and keep moving forward. This is where it is so important that every employee feels like they are a part of the company’s mission.

Sacrifices are made to succeed, whether it is working long hours, spending countless hours on the road, or dealing with a cramped work space. When everyone understands the mission they are working towards, these sacrifices make more sense.  Seating arrangements are never permanent. Inevitably, in a growing company, the arrangements will continue to move and change. As long as there is a long term plan in place and a shared mission, employees can appreciate the bigger picture and look forward to bigger and better things to come!

2 replies
  1. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    We are growing too! One approach that we have found very useful as we start to out-grow our cramped space is a very collaborative approach on space design. There isn’t one single person making decisions on office space, desk locations, etc. And expirimentation is key. Employees are encouraged to move their desks around, try something out and then change it if they like.

    For example, one colleague moved to a desk space at the back of the office, and found it wasn’t working for her. She spoke with a few colleagues and ended up moving inside an office with someone else – so they now work back to back….something that had never beed done before within a traditional “one person” office.

    In our open space, our developers have been using stacked boxes and even IKEA Lack Side tables to create their own make-shift “standing desks” in an effort to expirament with a new way of working. Moving our traditional boardroom table (that we never used!) to the centre has now created collaborative work-space…several colleagues have left their “permanent” work stations in favour of a more flexible space at the big table, or even on the couch. One colleague balances on an exercise ball while working at his desk.

    The key is: try it out! Talk with each other and make everyone empowered to develop a work space that works for them. Empowering each other to work through the challenges will take the focus away from feeling cramped and instead result in a work space that everyone is proud of….and owns!

    • Elyssa Thome
      Elyssa Thome says:

      Thanks Melissa! What an innovative approach to a complicated problem. Do you have central storage or anything for those that have left permanent workplaces behind? Just wondering if employees would have a place for things that would traditionally be left at a desk or if the more transient employees pack light.

      We’ve definitely seen how employees work better in different environments. Love your approach of embracing change and letting each person find what works for them!


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