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Space to work

Creating a good working environment is not just a case of making sure your staff have a proper desk or a reliable broadband connection – it is about making it as easy as possible for them to do a good job.

Before the pandemic, many people were spending almost as much time at work (and travelling to and from work) as they did in their homes, at least during the week. Those with the option of working remotely often found it hard to be productive because of interruptions from family members or uncomfortable surroundings.

Many of the elements of an efficient working space have not changed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but lockdown has served as a reminder of the importance of the physical work environment.

Tidy desk, tidy mind

Whether it’s at home or in the office, the working space needs to be clean, functional and practical. Make it an appealing space and employees will want to spend more time there.

This may be difficult for those staff who have viewed home working as a temporary solution and don’t plan to continue working from home when all restrictions have been lifted, but if you are planning on making flexible working a permanent fixture, you and your employees need to take a longer term view of their working arrangements.

Room in the garden for a home office will be beyond the reach of many, but basic interior design principles and a small amount spent on ergonomic furniture can improve even the smallest space.

A people business

The next area to look at is people. Managers need to have the skills and ability to lead and motivate those below them, but an aspect that often gets overlooked is their day-to-day behaviour towards their colleagues. You can have the best managers in the world, but if there is infighting, jealousy or resentment within their teams your business will suffer.

Employees want to feel part of something and to feel valued. This means understanding the link between the work that they do and the business outcomes and being treated as an individual.

You can create a working environment that enables people to do their best work by ensuring they are clear about what is expected of them, by working with them to agree on priorities and goals, and by providing the right framework and tools for them to be successful. 

Digital opportunities

Some companies look at the ability of their staff to embrace technology to do their job better, but they also need to understand what more could be done with better use of technology.

Younger employees have a role to play here. The digitally-native generation are often able to identify areas where the use of technology could be improved, thereby offering opportunities to improve working practices.

A specific piece of useful technology is a cloud-based accounting package such as Big Red Cloud – it won’t make your staff more productive, but it will help you keep track of what you have spent on work space improvements and how this expenditure has affected your profitability.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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