Increase Productivity at Work by Creating a Welcoming Atmosphere

Michael Brill, author of Using Office Design to Increase Productivity, estimates that improvements in the physical design of the workplace may result in a 5-10 percent increase in employee productivity. Most startups should have certain crucial design elements in common. These include employee lounge areas with cozy seating and colorful accents, snack-filled kitchens where employees can chat as they refuel and TV monitors used for everything from video-conferencing to gaming.

“The more comfortable our employees feel in the office environment, the more comfortable they are to speak up and share their opinions and insights with the team,” ZocDoc CFO Netta Samroengraja says.

Kitchen Area

A great lunch area is essential to pull people away from their desks. Get a little creative, and design a space that people will actually want to be in. Lunch is the perfect opportunity to bond with your coworkers and get to know someone you don’t know very well.

on-the-second-floor-we-found-a-fully-stocked-coke-fridge-providing-employees-with-free-beveragesAn office kitchen should have the essential space elements to build upon. Things like cabinets and storage, plenty of seating, and a table. Building a great kitchen environment should come before you start buying all of the stuff that goes into it like a fridge, coffee maker and a watercooler. You should encourage people to leave their computer monitors and spend time face to face with people in the break area.

Game Room/Yoga Room

Some days at work can be brutal, just ask any of your employees. Either a client is taking his mood out on you, you dropped the ball on a project or it’s just one of “those days.” When you’re in need of a quick break, having a Game Room is very handy. The Game Room is not just for large companies like Google but for any company that wants to boost staff morale, attract young and hip employees and create a fun, yet cool office environment. Having some simple games like DDR or even a dart board can be fun. You can also use that space as a yoga room to do yoga before or after work.

Conference Room

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It’s important to have a comfortable conference room outfitted with large couches as well as wall-sized chalkboards and whiteboards for brainstorming. It is about creating comfortable and functional spaces that allow your creativity to flow. Don’t you feel more comfortable talking to someone while sitting on a couch? It makes you feel at ease, right? Sitting with your colleagues around a communal dining table feels like you are part of a team and gives you a sense of connection with the organization.

Motivational Posters

If you sit in an office or a workspace all day, it can be very difficult to stay motivated all the time. It’s very easy to get distracted and end up being lazy. Sometimes a brilliant way to keep motivated is to have things around you to keep you motivated. It can be people, reading an inspirational story or even a poster on your wall. Invest in a few motivational posters to keep you going throughout the day. Type in motivational posters on Pinterest for some great ideas!

There is, however, a fine line between a morale-boosting office perk and a misallocation of your startup’s precious funds. So, when you’re decorating that new exposed-brick loft space, go the more sensible route and avoid the extravagant accessories and get something your company will really benefit from. Does your startup’s office shine? Comment or share some pictures with us below!

Growth Hacking: The Other Side of Marketing

“A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.” -Sean Ellis

The term “growth hacking” was coined in 2010 by startup advisor and marketer Sean Ellis. To a growth hacker, everything is done for its potential impact on scalable growth. Entrepreneur Andrew Chen later wrote a blog stating that the growth hacker is the new VP Marketing. But don’t get the two roles confused, growth hackers and marketers are not the same.

According to Aaron Ginn in TechCrunch, growth hackers have three common traits: a passion for metrics and data, creativity and curiosity. You could even say that growth hackers step out of the box, ignore the rules and create new ones. One part marketer and one part developer, growth hackers use a plethora of tools to help them reach their goals, including SEO, social media, web analytics, content marketing, case studies, press releases, blogs, white papers and more, typically sticking with low-cost alternatives to traditional marketing.

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Growth hackers are essential to startups. In order for a startup to succeed, it needs to break through all of the market noise, reach its target customers and flourish. While marketers are an important piece of the puzzle, it’s the growth hackers that will get you to your end goal. In a growth hacker’s mind, the sole focus is put on growing. This drives every decision, strategy and campaign.

One popular case study of growth hacking is Dropbox offering more storage to users who referred their friends. Instead of buying into traditional marketing, growth hackers look for a way to acquire new customers that doesn’t cost very much, if anything at all. Dropbox is worth over $4 billion, but doesn’t spend much on advertising due to its growth hacking techniques. Within four years, Dropbox has gained 200 million users, has one billion files saved to it every 24 hours and has over 500 employees. That’s huge for a company to accomplish in four short years.

Do you think you have what it takes to be a growth hacker? I’d suggest you check out GrowthHackers.com, a community to connect and get inspired. Now let’s take a look at the three steps of the growth hacker funnel.

Growth Hacker Funnel

  • Get Visitors: Find new ways for people to land on your product. Just because someone lands on your webpage or finds your product doesn’t mean you’re done; you need your visitors to form a relationship with you. Getting a visitor to connect with you by joining your email list or creating an account on your site turns them from a visitor to a member, which takes us to the next step.
  • Activate Members: Help people take an action that you have decided was necessary for the success of your product. It’s time to turn your members into dedicated users, keeping them coming back regularly. Figure out ways to keep your members engaged, gradually becoming your brand ambassadors.
  • Retain Users: Help people become habitual users of your product. If you get through this third step, you’ve accomplished your goal as a growth hacker. For growth hackers, retaining customers can sometimes be the most important part of the funnel, because if retention is low then all of your previous work has been meaningless.

Not every marketer or developer has what it takes to be a growth hacker, but if you have the potential, it could take you farther than you might have imagined. Check back for more blogs about growth hacking techniques and tips.

 

Startups: Critical for Our Economic Growth

When you hear the words “tech startup” or “startup” in general, what comes to mind?

Most people think of money, cool office spaces or the next revolutionary app. Startup companies are an essential part of our economic growth and with millions of Americans out of the workforce we need these startups to keep thriving. If they hit it big, these companies can add hundreds to thousands of new jobs around the country. Another important aspect of tech startups is that they can drastically improve our lives or the way we look at things. Take for instance, Leap Motion, which developed a controller that senses how you move your hands and lets you use the computer in an innovative way.

What’s wrong with this is that for every one successful startup there are three that fail. 75% of all startups fail while 90% of all products fail. Startups don’t happen overnight; they take a lot of money, sweat and employees who sometimes have to work for future compensation. The problem right now is that people are more hesitant to leave a secure job, even if that job is not satisfying, to go to something new. People who start a company have to rely on family, credit cards, investors and savings to fuel their initial costs, which compounds the stress they already are enduring.

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After the financial crisis, venture capitalists and investment banks have been wary of investing with an unproven person or new product or service. That is slowly changing, but it is nowhere near the point we were at before 2007-2008 after being burned by poor performing investments. Currently, the average funding per company is $1.5 million, and not investments are failures. Just take the success stories of companies such as Dropbox, AirBnB and Infogami. Brian Chesky, CEO and founder of AirBnB, knows the story of hard work, rejection and eventual success in forming a startup. But those success stories are few and far between.

Health insurance is another big concern right now. It’s hard for anyone to leave one company that has health insurance for another company that doesn’t. I can guarantee you that most startups do not have health insurance, let alone any other benefits. One thing is for sure: if you are starting your own company, you are going to try to keep your costs low by not providing benefits. This is a problem for business owners now, and also future entrepreneurs, who will start to second guess turning their idea into a business.

Being a founder or employee of a startup is both nerve-wracking and thrilling at the same time. There are many restless all-nighters that come with extreme highs and lows, but these companies are vital for our country on many fronts.

Have you been a part of a startup in any aspect? I would love to hear some of your stories! You can leave a comment below or catch me on Twitter.