At Start Smarter, we’re all about, well, starting smarter. This means starting your booming business empire or your next entrepreneurial endeavour in the most optimal way possible.
We’re coming to realise that sitting in an office might not be your best bet. In this blog post, we’ll uncover four reasons why an office environment is, frankly, the worst place to work, and one that sucks the life out of all forms of success.
If you’re stuck at an office desk right now, fear not — we’ll also show you some forward-thinking approaches to flexible work and why we are fortunate enough to live in a time where work is not limited to corporate cubicles.
1. Stress Is Linked to Sedentary Lifestyles
It’s nothing new that a lack of exercise and fresh air will inevitably cause you to feel low. We aren’t telling you to become an avid gym goer because we know that it’s most people’s idea of hell (even with the promise of runner’s high). Instead, what if there was a way you could get your daily dose of endorphins without a gruelling cardio session each day? Fortunately, there is — simply moving around on a regular basis can be enough.
Sitting in an office is an obstacle to this. If you’re chained to a desk for the best part of eight hours each day, your body is mostly in a sedentary state.
But how does a sedentary state impact your health?
Your mind: As your brain is less stimulated, you start to forget things. This is not ideal when trying to juggle multiple enterprises and high-profile clients.
Your body: You’ll have an increased risk of cancer and poor sleep — that’s enough to keep you awake at night and half-asleep during your workday.
Your soul: Your mood will take a hit, and if your mental capacity is limited, so is your chance of success.
Clearly, the need to move more is not only helpful for your startup, but it’s also needed to live a healthy life. Migrating towards a more flexible work environment is beneficial for more than just your business.
You might have heard of standing desks. These types of desks are essentially regular desks that have been raised, forcing you to stand. Using a standing desk can help you burn more calories, improve your posture and reduce neck and back pain associated with long periods of sitting. But while this type of working has been proven to increase life expectancy, we think you can do better than that.
Don’t just change the type of desk that you use — ditch the office altogether.
Just because you’ve traded the traditional desk for an upright version doesn’t mean that the novelty won’t wear off soon. To be truly stimulated and geared for success, you need to work in an ever-changing environment. If you needed convincing further, research has shown that it’s good for you.
The bonus of being self-employed is that you can freely move to different environments as and when you choose. Take advantage of this freedom as a startup leader or aspiring entrepreneur and recognise the change in your mindset as you switch from one environment to another. You’ll soon become in tune with when your brain power is running low and know when you need a change of scenery.
2. Creative Block Is a Common Occurrence
Developing a brand, which is a huge part of building a successful startup, takes consistent creativity and forward-thinking. Don’t expect this level of output to materialise in an office environment, as creative-block is common when you’re resigned to staring at the same four walls. If you’re stuck still, then so is the growth of your brand.
The best brands are built on real things, places and people. If you look at any of the top Fortune 500 Companies, you’ll realise that their worth has come from providing value to a specific market and building a brand that complements real needs and desires.
Walt Disney sits high up on this list, and for good reason.
Disney wasn’t founded in an office — at least not entirely. Brothers Walt and Roy O. Disney became leaders in animation before they used their movies as inspiration to create abstract experiences for the public to enjoy. Many of us associate Disney with Disneyland (all fourteen of them across the globe), where Walt Disney was known to live and work from a secret apartment in the California park. From here, Walt would observe his customers and suggest changes to the park.
The level of creativity and imagination it takes to create fourteen theme parks, millions of merchandise items and an entire Disney channel can only come from first-hand experience. Had Walt been sat in an office, this Disneyland dream empire would not have existed.
When creating a brand, it’s always a good idea to covertly observe your customers to see how your market behaves and interacts with your products. This is one of the few ways to receive honest and reliable feedback, which allows you to constantly improve your enterprise and dominate your competitors.
3. You Have to Abide by Office Hours
If you’re an entrepreneur, a leader of a startup or a born businessman, you’ll know that the traditional nine-to-five rarely applies. Your mind might be buzzing with new ideas all throughout the night or, alternatively, you might perform best early in the morning. Incidentally, some of your optimal times for productivity might fall outside of office hours, making this environment unhelpful.
As an entrepreneur with a constant stream of energy and enthusiasm for your enterprise, you should be working from a remote location where your schedule is decided by you. A virtual phone number can give you this freedom. It’s logical that your working hours should reflect when you’re best equipped to work — an office just can’t give you this flexibility.
Removing the reliance on a physical landline not only serves you, but it also serves your customers. Businesses that boast 24-hour support are booming, with buying patterns becoming more scattered than ever. Your startup business is likely to sell products online, which means that your customers can view and purchase your products at any time, day or night. Not only does having a virtual office address and a virtual number help you to remain 100 per cent productive, but it also allows you to retain flexible communication with your clients, customers and coworkers.
4. You’ll Get the Most out of Meetings in Person
We’ve established that you should stop working from an office, but, more importantly, you should also stop conducting meetings from it. Whether you’re using Skype, having a traditional phone call or inviting others to your workspace, these communication methods are not ideal for making the most out of your meetings.
If you’re using phone calls to carry out the majority of your meetings, you’re making a mistake. Phone calls are a great communication tool for quick conversations and remote support, such as when your customers have a quick query they need an answer to or a simple problem to solve. However, when it comes to building long-term relationships with prospects and clients, meeting in person always triumphs.
Imagine how a conversation could be different if you were able to observe the other person’s body language and demeanour. Even with a video platform like Skype, you can only see a portion of the other person, which restricts your ability to accurately read the situation.
What if someone is saying yes to you but they don’t really mean it? Dishonest or anxious behaviour — such as the picking of nails or shuffling of feet — can only be detected during face-to-face encounters. Being able to determine whether somebody is uncomfortable or uncertain about something and why they feel that way gives you an opportunity to reassure that person and create a genuine relationship with them.
Start having quality conversations, and in neutral environments when possible. If you’re always inviting clients to your office space, this can start off the meeting on uneven footing. Next time you’re planning to get together with someone important, take a stroll outside, where there is no hidden agenda or underlying power imbalance.
It’s likely that you can’t ditch the office environment right off the bat and start working remotely. So how can you make a realistic transition to more flexible work?
- Split your work week between your home and your office
- Work longer hours initially. If your peak time for productivity is at 7 am, begin work before the office opens and you’ll soon see the difference
- Continue to carry out admin work in the office but make changes to your processes, such as conducting meetings outside or somewhere local
- Get out of the office for at least one hour each week. This time can be spent conducting a covert competitor analysis or monitoring your target demographic’s shopping behaviours.
Start working smarter and experience the benefits of ditching the office environment for yourself — you might be surprised at just how much your health and bottom line can improve.