This post is sponsored by Staples.
I hired my college-aged daughter to work in the office this summer. Mostly, I love having her around. She’s smart, enthusiastic, personable, and hard-working. Everything a dad could ask for, right?
Yes, well, except.
Except that she loves to steal my charger.
Now don’t get me wrong, I would give her just about anything. But I also have a business to run, and running a business requires organization. One thing I have definitely learned is that if I want my office to work, to be efficient and nimble, then we have to have the right tools. And that in turn means, for example, that I can’t keep running out of juice because my daughter decided that she likes my charger.
So what did I do? Well of course I went out to my local Staples store and found a Staples Brand Duel Device Rapid Wall Charger (available in white – SKU 2094916 or black – SKU 2094568). Problem solved.
But the incident got me to thinking. What is it actually that makes an office work? Oh sure, I could name the usual suspects – things like a great culture and good employees and a product or service that people love. Those are all true. But more than that, the actual thing that makes an office hum and flow is having the right tools.
Think about those stories you read or TV segments you see about Silicon Valley tech companies. What is the distinguishing physical characteristic of these places? I will suggest that it is the fact that they outfit their people with everything they need to be effective, happy, motivated, and organized. I have a good friend who works in one of those places. One of the things he loves is that the company clearly is committed to supporting him. Whether it is the latest technology or printers that always have toner, having the right tools lets him be more effective.
Indeed, beyond the scooters and foosball tables, what you really notice is that these places (places that people love to work at for the most part) make it a priority to give their people what they need to in order to succeed. Whether it is a cafeteria stocked with great food or a utility room stocked with things like Staples brand Duramark pens, pads, staplers, whiteboards, or whatever, high-tech companies know that if they take care of their people, their people will take care of them.
The same is true for any small business. I bet that at one time or another, we have all worked in that under-equipped office. You know the one. It’s the office that never had enough pens. The office where you had to bring in your own supplies. The office where the boss missed the forest for the trees.
Question: How effective was that office? How well-organized?
Right. Not very.
Personally, I have found that giving people the tools they need makes everyone happier and makes the office run much more smoothly and effectively. So, for example, we recently upgraded our workstations. Everyone got new desks and new comfortable chairs (in case you are wondering, we chose Staples Vexa Mesh chairs.) No more fighting over the “good” chairs. The result? A happier staff, and a happier staff means happier customers, and happier customers mean repeat customers.
That’s what I’m talking about.
The moral of the story is clear: Outfitting your office with the right tools doesn’t cost, it pays – in more ways than one.
Steve Strauss is a senior small business columnist at USA TODAY and author of 15 books, including The Small Business Bible. Steve is your host here at TheSelfEmployed.com.