Office design in field services – How the home base can be effective

Field service businesses, particularly smaller ones, are understandably not focused on their office environments. For many organizations, just a few staff members may work from the office consistently, with most employees out in the field for the majority of their time. However, establishing a home base where field workers and office-based employees are all comfortable can be important even for the smallest companies.

Why the office space matters
While your field workers may pop in and out of the office as needed – possibly only a couple of times a day as modern field service management software lets them get more done remotely – the office can still serve as their key checkpoint within the company. Fostering personal connections in work settings can be helpful to productivity, and fostering a sense of comfort for your field workers when they do come to the office can set them up to build relationships with greater ease.

A Harvard Business Review report explained that people within most office environments will feed off of one another's energy. An excited, engaged worker is going to have a positive impact on other employees.

"Overly clean, optimized work spaces can feel oppressive to workers."

If you have a customer service representative in the office receiving positive feedback and documenting it, but those messages are simply filed away, that energy goes to waste. If your office environment makes it easy for that worker to pass positive feedback on to drivers as they drop by the office, the energy multiplies through your business.

This is just one example of how the office can be a connecting point for different parts of your organization. The key is to make the office feel just a bit like home. The TED Conferences website recently published an excerpt of design expert Tim Harford's book, "Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives." In his analysis, Harford explained that overly clean, optimized work spaces can feel oppressive to workers. Offering some empowerment for personalization, on the other hand, can foster employee engagement by giving employees freedom with how they use their space.

Creating an office that empowers workers
Office design can promote employee engagement by allowing workers to feed off of one another's energy and giving them a greater personal connection to the workplace. For field service firms, however, achieving this goal is tricky. You can't create a dedicated work space for each field service worker – those desks would just be empty most of the time. Intentionally organizing the office to support easy conversations between field workers and office-based employees is an option. A few practical design tips include:

  • Set up a dedicated lounge and/or work area for drivers so they have a space to call their own when they do come to the office.
  • Place office-based employee desks in easily reachable locations – as much as is possible – to allow for easy connection when field workers do stop in the office.
  • Take advantage of mobile device technologies – including mobile apps – to minimize the busy-work drivers must complete in the office so they can focus on more important tasks.
  • Hang a few posters and/or signs that promote your key goals and values to keep workers focused on and connected to shared priorities.

These are just a few considerations when it comes to laying out your office. In practice, you don't have to be an interior design expert to create a productive office space. Instead, talk with your workers to find out what they need and empower them to create a setup that accommodates your priorities as the business leader with their day-to-day work needs. Establishing a comfortable, productive office environment may seem less important for field service companies, but organizations that get the office right can foster employee engagement and create a greater sense of connectedness in the business.

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