“Startup culture” became the talk of the town for several reasons, a major one being the really fabulous, relaxing and “cool” office spaces! Do you remember when images of Googleplex took over the internet? Most of us poorer, less fortunate slaves, sat in our sad little cubicles, craving that beanbag or the massage room!
There’s a lot that differentiates a startup from a corporate setup, and how you design your office is definitely a decisive factor! One of the major attractions for people choosing startups over corporates is that an ideal startup culture draws inspiration from a collaborative and inclusive spirit, rather than a target-oriented and hierarchical one. And you would want your workspace to foster just that sense of community and belonging, while at the same time nurturing the creative and productive pursuits for achieving organisational goals.
Building an office is like building a home, plan it well and make it count! And while you’re at it, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
Space Flexibility – The first thing to remember is - don’t rush into getting an office space until you really need one. Look for co-working spaces that can help you cut down on your initial investment. And once you are sure you need your own independent setup, look for a place that’ll be flexible to expansion. The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is quickly setting up an office to accommodate the current workforce; before you know it, the team is growing, but your office space isn’t. You shouldn’t have to go looking for a new office every time you re-hire, so make sure you make the right choice at the right time!
Location – Another very important aspect is the locality in which you set up. Rentals could be cheaper in remote locations, but is saving a few bucks worth causing daily commute troubles for your entire team? You should not only choose a location that will offer ease of accessibility to you and your staff, but it should also be a safe and inviting neighborhood for your clients to pop in every now and then. Being well-connected to food and coffee shops, food delivery services, and casual evening hangouts is always a plus!
Employee inclusion – The entire point of building an inspiring workspace is to fuel the creativity of your workforce. Let them be a part of the design. Notice how your team likes to work. While some people would love to lounge on comfortable couches, some run to the smoking rooms for brainstorming, and others explore their creativity in quiet, solitary cabins. Flying tables, bean bags, couches and balcony sit outs – mix it all up and keep it all in. It is also a good idea to let the team join the process by contributing in their own way. Let them bring their guitars or their pets, have a wall with everyone’s favourite artworks, pick a DJ of the day and let the office groove to his playlist.
Balance open spaces with private rooms – An ideal startup space should offer ample scope for collaboration while still offering secluded havens for undivided attention. You want to balance spaces, with casual open areas where everyone can work together as well as proper meeting rooms for two to four people to brainstorm separately. Striking the perfect balance between community spirit and personal space is tricky, but is certainly achievable with good planning.
Relax zones for inspiring ideas – This is the heart of any startup office! Working at a startup is difficult. You’re always multi-tasking and working extra hours, and while you do this by choice, some personal relaxation time is something you deserve! For entrepreneurs, this should be the place that defines the vision of your workplace. The “chill zone”, where your team can relax during or after a terribly long day at work. A foosball table, a video game setup, a huge television so no one misses their favourite sports, and maybe even a jukebox, for those nights when no one is going back home!
Make space for nature – Having natural elements in your décor can be very inspiring! Big French windows that let the sunlight flood the room, grass carpets, potted plants – making space for nature is never a bad idea. No one minds a bit of sunshine or some fresh oxygen when you’re sitting inside an air-conditioned office all day.
Feed them stomachs – Saving the best, and somehow the most avoided, for last - invest in a good kitchen if you want a happy army! A space with free-flowing coffee (freshly brewed is a plus!), good snacks to munch on, and maybe (hopefully) a kegerator (give it a shot, you won’t regret it!). Your employees are working day in and day out to uphold your vision and objectives; it’s your responsibility to look after them!
It is a well-accepted fact that people prefer working from home because of the coziness and familiarity the space brings them. While designing your office, this is the primary thing to remember – design a place that’s welcoming, cozy, relaxing, fosters a sense of community, at the same time as offering scope, privacy and focus. Above all, make sure it is mind-blowing!