If you’re used to working for a large company, the idea of working in a small office may terrify you. There are less employees to share the workload, the physical workspace might be tiny, and you may not get along with your handful of coworkers. Fortunately, there are ways to survive – and thrive – in a small office. Consider using some of the tips below to make working in a small office more enjoyable.
Play Nice with Others
It’s simple: Be nice to your coworkers. You don’t have to throw them a birthday party, but you should be civil at the office.
“Be friendly. Be engaging. Try not to let the small stuff bother you. If you don’t get along with someone still remain professional and hopefully they’ll do the same,” said Catherine Woolen, a senior client relations executive for RMS, Inc., with 10 years of small-office experience. “You have to see these people more than you do your spouse and your kids in most cases. Best for everyone to get along.”
If you really want to go the extra mile, consider your coworkers when you make personal choices. For example, choose to eat your smelly lunch in the break room instead of in the office that you share. Opt to wear headphones while you listen to your morning radio show. And whenever possible, take care of personal hygiene in the bathroom, not at your desk. These little things all contribute to a better work environment for everyone.
One of the benefits of working in a small office is you get to know everyone and they get to know you. For those who are self-motivated and ambitious, working in a small office is a great opportunity. Senior partners are more likely to know your name and you can build beneficial relationships with your coworkers. Even your day-to-day grind can be easier.
“One of the things I like about a small office is that you don’t have to go through the entire bureaucracy to get things done,” said Woolen. “If you have issues with your computer you can go directly to the IT director to get help and ask questions. If it’s a logistics issue, you can go directly to the warehouse manager.”
So, take advantage of the company’s small size and make the rounds. As you build relationships with your coworkers you’ll find your work gets easier, communication gets better, and you enjoy your workday a little more.
Use Your Space Wisely
Sharing a desk, squeezing into a shrinking cubicle or having an officemate may be your idea of purgatory, but it’s becoming more common in both small and large offices.
According to CoreNet Global, workspaces for individuals dropped from 225 sq. feet in 2010, to 176 sq. feet in 2012. And the New York Times says the number has likely gotten even smaller as companies try to save money. But don’t worry, a small workspace can still be enjoyable. Breathe new life into your workspace by adding plants or your favorite photos. And if you’re sharing a desk or office, find a way to carve out your personal space. Establishing your personal boundaries will make you happier and as an added bonus, may also increase your productivity.
Utilize Common Areas
Companies may be downsizing individual workspaces, but many are also increasing the number of common areas available to their employees. Lounges, relaxation rooms and even phone booths for private calls are popping up. Use these locations when you want to chat with someone about a project, need to make a personal call or simply need a few minutes away from your coworkers. And hey, a study by the Draugiem Group showed that productivity actually increases when employees work 53 consecutive minutes followed by a 17-minute break. It’s the perfect excuse to get up, stretch your legs and regroup.
Stay Away from Gossip/Office Politics
A small office is like a small family. And just like you have the ability to hurt your mom’s feelings when you talk about her lousy cooking, you have the ability to damage your relationships with your coworkers by gossiping. And, yes, your rude comments will get around (probably at warp speed). If a conversation takes a turn for the worse, change the subject or turn tail and run. The same rules apply to office politics. Instead of choosing sides, stay neutral and focus on the business at hand. If you feel the need to repeat what you heard or throw your two cents in, save it for when you get home. Your significant other makes a great sounding board, as do friends who have zero connections to your place of business.
Even though working in a small office may seem bleak at first, you can easily turn it around. Be nice and courteous to your coworkers, stay out of office gossip and use those cushy common areas during your breaks. And six months from now, you may go from survival mode to right at home.