Environment

Environmental Medicine

Initially, when working with a new client, I always want to get to know the people, and what everyone does. Then, talk will turn to product, numbers, and the associated business and cultural conversations. Once this is all done, one of the key areas that always intrigues me is the working environment of the business leaders. Not only what their day/week looks like, but also where they work.

One of my small business client’s I recently worked with had a typical “small business office”. Files stacked up, random posters, bits of paper everywhere, and a general feeling of organised chaos. When I see this type of environment the first thing that hits me is Empathy! Yes, I can truly understand. A work office, whether on-site or at home can become a cramped, dark, uninspiring hole. These work areas quickly become a place of distain, and the heart drops every time you have to walk through that door. This does not set the scene for a leader to hit the ground running and hit the day with vigour and unadulterated passion.

For this reason, I tend to do my best creative work on holiday or in shared-working environments. The only problem with this is that you set yourself up for a great day’s work, but within ten minutes you need a file in your office, or you physically need to be down the hall from your team.

So, what is the answer? As a consultant, my job is to see what people within the business cannot. Commonly what I see (and feel myself sometimes) is a distinct link between the working environment and daily motivation of a leader. I don’t have a list of top 10 things storage solutions for you to implement. That’s for the likes of your office supplier and storage shop to help you with, as well as for you to discover for yourself. The answer is to acknowledge that your working space needs to be clean, spacious, inviting, well lit, and organised. The aesthetics are also very important. It needs to be all you, a place for you, a place that invites you in and says “hey buddy, it’s great to see you. Let’s enjoy the next chunk of time together. It’s gonna be great!”

Tomorrow morning when you open the door to your office take a good hard look. Be analytical. Before you put your bag down, and sit down, and start pounding out work, take a good hard look. Make a mental list of what opportunities there are and go fix them. Spend a bit of money if required. If you don’t have natural light, or a beautiful vista to overlook when you’re at your desk, then there may not be many options other than moving at some point. But, concentrate on the opportunities that are currently present. Lighting, inspiring images & quotes, branding & mission aligned animation, the use of desk space, the ergonomics, plants, and aroma can all be quick fixes for getting you in the right headspace to smash out a strong fun day in your business.

My top 5 Cringe Sights!

Walking into a retail environment, whether it is a butcher, a salon, a shopping centre boutique, or a cafe, there are some sights I see which I know are hurting business results. I call these my “cringe-moments”. When I was a retail manager I swear that I would commonly have these moments every time I walked into my store. Now, there is an element of being the fun police here, and for that I apologise, well… just a little bit. On the other hand high standards have never been so important, and apathy around this translates to the customer experience suffering, and therefore less return business and less money in the till.

Here are 5 of the most common and most cringe-worthy I see all too often:

1. RATTY EXTERIORS

Look at your frontage. Yes, stop reading and look at it now! If it needs a touch of paint, if there is a poster half hanging, or no window display at all then sort it out within the next 24 hours. This is your face and the body language of your business is crucial to make people welcome. Otherwise, you are encouraging people to walk on by.

2. WHO TURNED OUT THE LIGHTS?

Is it open? I am an eco-champion at heart and power conservation is dear to me, but high level lighting is a real priority in retail. Maybe a fluoro needs to be replaced, or a new light fixture needs to be installed, either way, light and bright is the name of the game. Beautiful products can look really dull without the right lighting.

3. DUST ‘N’ DUST ‘N’ DUST

Number one on the roles & responsibilities handbook that every staff member gets when they start in your business is that cleaning is mandatory. If your store is clean, then clean it more. Many retailers think their store is clean, but fresh eyes will commonly see things which you do not. If you have a team culture where cleanliness is not a top priority, please take action to change this. Remember that we eat with our eyes.

4. PROMO EXPIRED OR CONFUSING?

Out of date promotions and marketing is a common problem, even in larger businesses that should know better. New Year Sales in January or even February? Winter Warmers in August? New Lines just in, when they just aren’t new anymore?! If you don’t have a marketing schedule lined up at least six months in advance then this scenario will occur in your business. It is confusing for customers and staff alike. Also, keep promotions sharp, to the point, and easy to follow. If you can’t explain it in one sentence then ditch it.

5. I WOULD LIKE TO PAY NOW – WHAT THE…?

The Point of Sale, or Cash & Wrap area is the central nervous system of your business. It can act as your reception, office, call center, and is of course where money is taken. Never under-estimate the importance of this area. Too often I see spare desks from the place I used to live/work-at being used for this area. Along with this, scanners don’t work, bags are not ready, till roll is empty, staplers missing, pens don’t work and cards/brochures are out-dated or have run out. I cringe when I see people fumbling about to put through a simple transaction. Avoid this at all costs people – it’s excruciating to watch from a customer point of view, and no fun for the staff member.

So, that’s it. Consciously, or sub-consciously your staff and customers are noticing many of these “Cringes” if they exist in your business. If you have none of them present in your business, then your business must be flying! The reality is that some of these will exist in your business all the time. When one is fixed, another needs attention. However, if you have tried to sort these out, but are having no success then engage an expert to help. One thing that is crucial – take your head-out-of the-sand if you’ve been living with some of these for a while. They hurt business results, and many make for a lowered enjoyment at work for the business owner, manager, or staff.

My motto is simple “Cringe and act, cringe and ACT!”.