Every other week, On Small Business reaches out to a panel of young entrepreneurs for answers to some of the most pressing questions facing small business owners. The following responses are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC).

Q: Have you found any simple, inexpensive methods to make your workspace more employee-friendly? What tricks have you used to make sure your staff is happy with your office?

With "Rock'em Sock'em" Robots nearby, employees meet to discuss things at the hi-tech company Vocus located in Beltsville, Md. (Jeffrey MacMillan/JEFFREY MACMILLAN FOR WASHINGTON)

Marcos Cordero, CEO/co-founder of GradSave in Miami, Florida:

“When we first started the company we launched out of a shared workspace where you would take your laptop home every night and bring it back -- we’d pay by the workstation, and it was great because there were other startups in the workstation next to you and walking around; we wouldn’t feel ‘lonely.’

At one of our advisor’s suggestions, we actually decided to spend a little more to have our own office, which is in a shared office suite. We realized that in our own private office space we could really build our own culture of high performance, customer-centric, and fast-paced work much more easily than we could otherwise. We can now paint or cover walls, leave whiteboards full of ideas overnight and really have a place we call home.

We have a completely open office layout, walls covered with everything from marketing efforts, emails, website redesign and their associated metrics – both good and bad. Since we have an open floor plan, without cube walls, it’s essentially “open door” because there is really no door. Everyone brings in their favorite snacks, leftovers, or brownies a spouse made and we place it on our communal snack cabinet – which comes in handy. We also have a snack savings jar that our staff has to pay into for certain “penalties,” such as not contributing to our daily SEO blog articles.

Creating a work-friendly office is not difficult to do if you make it a priority. The positive office setting has so much more of a productivity impact than I could have ever imagined!”

Liam Martin, co-founder of Staff.com in Ottawa, Canada:

“We run a distributed work force at Time Doctor and we have three separate offices in combination with a lot of work-at-home staff. Our biggest hack has been simply giving people the choice to work either in an office or from home — the majority choose to work from home.

A recent study tracking 13,000 employees that work from home found that on average, workers were 13 percent more productive and had a 50 percent lower attrition rate than their local counterparts. Remote workers cost you significantly less when you factor in office space, equipment, utilities and most importantly, the increases in productivity.

Your costs are, in our experience, approximately 20 percent cheaper than in-office employees. We also have employees at various stages of remote work; some employees work out of an office full time, some are completely remote and have lunch meetings with the rest of the team once a week. Give your employees the choice and you might be pleasantly surprised by the results.”

Jonathon Sawyer, Owner/chef at SeeSaw Restaurant Group in Cleveland, Ohio:

“It starts from the top — employees must want to work with you, not for you. We’ve found the most success in this mutual respect, and we work hard to create an educational environment.

I think the most effective chefs are just like the best teachers. Utilizing positive reinforcement and encouraging creativity makes the kitchen a place of collaboration and development, not a factory of uninspired, insipid garbage food. We also encourage all of our employees to work hard and constantly advance their skills and knowledge.

The best advice I’ve been given is the advice I give my cooks every day: the faster you can replace yourself, the faster you can move up in an industry. For example, I tell my cooks If you’re the best line cook in the restaurant, you’re still no better than the worst until you can train someone to be the best, and move up to sous chef.”

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of promising young entrepreneurs.

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