We've all heard stories about Google and its ridiculously awesome office and culture. With the casual and flex working space to volleyball courts, heated swimming pools, on-site oil change and car wash services, dry cleaning, massage therapy -- I mean, who wouldn't want to work there? The reality is the company spent an enormous amount of money designing and developing its spaces and programs via a budget that you more than likely don't have.
So how do you design your office space with startup spending? Being that I have absolutely no experience in interior design, let's take a look at a few tricks from a pro -- Leura Fine, founder, CEO and designer extraordinaire at Laurel & Wolf, an online design platform that allows you to reap the benefits of personalized and professional interior design at a fraction of the cost and headache.
Not having a single creative design bone in my body, I can attest to the concept of just buying a bunch of random stuff and spreading it around an office -- yes, at this I’m quite accomplished. But contrary to popular belief, there are much better ways to execute and leverage well thought-out design.
“Most people want both a beautiful and functional office space but struggle with how to achieve it," Fine says. "It is considered to be too time consuming and expensive to accomplish. Yet, by not investing in design, these companies are missing a huge opportunity to build and support their brands and cultures.”
Design for your employees.
If you're like me, you have no clue where to start when it comes to this stuff.
"Start with using art on the walls around your office that include shots of the team, which will help create a space that feels like a home away from home," Fine says. "You can also help to generate inspiration and creativity amongst your staff by having beautiful things around the office, while keeping space tidy in order to keep calm minds."
Flex work areas are those that might include desks, stand-up tables, an outdoor area or even the corner of a room full of bean bag chairs -- the idea is to offer a flexible working environment to get your team up and moving around.
"Always start your design around simple ideas, like the use of flex work areas that allow your team to work from a variety of spots around the office," Fine says. "This gets their blood and creative juices flowing and leads to more productive and efficient use of time.”
If you can figure out how to integrate the feel of a home with the brand of your business, while keeping the look simple, clean and flexible, you can seriously impact employee happiness.
Then leverage the space.
The typical use for a commercial space is for regular, day-to-day operations -- the standard nine-to-five workday with a room or series of rooms full of ugly cubicles. But if you’ve taken the time to develop a functional working environment, you have the opportunity to use it for a whole lot more.
“The benefit of having a great space, that you and your team are proud of, is that you can use it to help build your brand.” Fine says. “You should be using your office space as a marketing tool, to attract and wow new clients, team members and even investors and you should also be using your space to host a variety of events, as opposed to paying someone else to rent theirs.”
Regardless of whether you think you’ve got your office design under control, you should really consider seeking a bit of help -- which can make all the difference in the world.
There are a laundry list of pain points when it comes to hiring a professional interior designer, starting with the fact that it can be incredibly expensive and has a tendency to exhaust a tremendous amount of time due to the litany of back-and-forth meetings that must take place in person and largely lacks transparency. But then again, you want an awesome office, right?