While every start-up is unique, most if not all of them tend to have two things in common: there is not a lot of workspace available, and the office design budget is of the shoestring variety.
The good news is that neither of these are obstacles to making improvements that boost morale, engagement, productivity, performance and results. Here are six low-cost, high-impact start-up office design best practices that can take your company to the next level:
Freshen Up the Air
Plants and odor neutralizers are all ideal to help freshen up the air, and get rid of unpleasant odors that refuse to fade away on their own (the scent of lasagna may be mouth-watering just before lunch, but not-so-much when it still lingers at 4:30pm). If you have more serious smell issues, then it may be necessary to check out the HVAC and ventilation system. Beware of deploying air fresheners throughout the office, since some of your employees, customers or visitors may have allergies.
Hang Up Some Art
Instead of dotting the walls with motivational posters of people rowing and climbing things (which by the way, are proverbial walks in the park compared to an infuriated customer or impossible deadline), then “go Van Gogh” on your space by hanging up some art. If cost is an issue, then get some high quality digital prints that are copyright free, or are offered with Creative Commons license (i.e. you can display it for non-commercial purposes provided that you give the creator proper credit). Or better yet, invite your hard working staff to each submit a landscape photo that you enlarge and display, and turn your office into a mini gallery.
Reception Area: Just Say No
There’s a good chance that your office design has a built-in reception area. However, do you really need this space? If you are indeed receiving customers on a regular basis, then the answer is yes. But if you engage most of your customers over the phone, through the web, or in-person at another location, then your reception area is ripe for a creative re-invention. For example, you may want to turn it into an employee breakout space, or an area where you can hold daily standup meetings, and so on.
Re-paint the Walls
Yes, you are right: your walls are not in a state of disrepair, and thankfully nobody has scribbled down not-safe-for-work slogans, suggestions or limericks (what is with all of these people from Nantucket and their odd predisposition towards buckets, anyway?). However, adding a splash of strategically-chosen color to your walls can lead to some unexpected improvements. For example, the science of color therapy notes that blue is a calming and soothing color (which is why it is popular in medical and dental offices), green promotes harmony and balance, red resonates with energy and authority, orange demands attention (which is why so many logos use this color), yellow is playful and energizing, and the list goes on. What’s more, if you decide to do some re-painting, you can involve your staff and turn it into a fun team building exercise.
Choose Modular, Easy to Move Furniture
As you know, the only constant on the start-up business landscape is change. Forget about no two days being alike. No two hours are alike! As such, choose modular, easy to move furniture that allows you to quickly (and painlessly) re-set the layout to suit various needs, such as running training sessions, having brainstorming meetings, or doing heads-down detailed work. Using modular furniture can help ensure your employees are able to stay connected and communicate.
With all due respect, Kermit the Frog was incorrect: these days, it is indeed easy to be green, and start-up businesses that take the lead not only help the planet, but they can also attract environmentally-conscious customers. Some simple, yet effective green office ideas include: reducing printing and paper waste, unplugging machines that are not in use (rather than just turning them off), installing company fluorescent bulbs, using green cleaning products, and the list goes on.
The Bottom Line
An undersized working area and a limited office design budget are no match for any, some or better yet, all of these low-cost, high-impact small office design best practices. Bring them to life in your environment, and unleash more improvements — in more ways — than you can probably imagine!