Building a successful startup involves countless decisions, both big and small, that collectively determine the difference between those that flourish and others that join the countless masses of also-rans. Although perhaps not at the forefront of a startup's mindset, choosing the best office design for your specific needs and goals is a critical decision that has an immediate and lasting impact on your productivity, work environment, employee satisfaction, and even customer experience.
At Tenant Base, we recognize how important office design is to every startup, no matter the industry, and have prepared a concise but insightful guide to help you find the right design for your immediate needs and future goals. While not as dramatic as funding endeavors or as dynamic as networking, the right office design places the proper face to your mission, direction, and atmosphere.
Obviously, a sense of camaraderie and collaboration is imperative in fostering a workplace environment where employees can interact in a healthy and productive manner. Common areas excel in developing this sort of atmosphere, typically featuring limited seating areas arranged outside and around conference rooms, next to the kitchen or recreation space, or any other smaller areas that might otherwise be underutilized.
Aside from taking advantage of unused space, these areas can significantly help grow team bonds and form relationships amongst members in an organic and healthy fashion. By encouraging open and fluid conversation, common spaces can play a critical role in brainstorming and innovation that drive the entire organization.
When properly integrated within an overall office footprint, common areas create new work environments that can disrupt monotony, spur imaginations, and provide much-needed flexibility for small groups to meet and discuss projects rather than monopolizing conference rooms better utilized for larger groups and meetings. Given the agility and creativity often required of startups to navigate complicated marketplaces, common office spaces can be small but critical components to promoting a collaborative and innovative mindset.
While they don't naturally lend themselves to creativity like common spaces, private offices are most needed when closed off, quiet areas are required for productivity. Depending on the industry, some startups need designated spaces where a team can simply work without distractions, even if private areas lack the efficiency of other office designs due to their limitations and lack of flexibility.
Typically required by more senior level employees, integrating private offices into limited startup office layouts should be as wide-ranging in application as possible, perhaps available to a group of senior members rather than just one or two. That way, while still providing those executives designated areas for making managerial decisions, their usage is not completely restricted and, therefore, their inherent inefficiencies are minimized.
As the antithesis of private offices, flexible seating can be utilized in two distinct ways to provide your workforce the freedom to work in an untethered manner that takes full advantage of mobile technology through laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other devices that don't require traditional seating.
The first of these two options, flexible seating assignments, remove nearly every formality in designated seating arrangements, allowing employees to work from any location within the office. These assignments work best for teams who often work remotely or have team members constantly traveling and spending limited time within the office.
Alternatively, a startup can integrate flexible office furniture that can be moved or manipulated to adjust to the specific needs of a team. Often, this would include movable desks, standing desks, rolling wall barriers, curtains, or any other multi-use furniture that naturally allows team members to create and alter work and meeting spaces with little effort or time.
If your startup requires structure and a regimented atmosphere, then a more traditional design might suit you best. Despite common perception, as dynamic and agile as modern workspaces tend to be – startups in particular – approximately 70% of office staff still work at traditional desks or cubicles so you are in no way alone by preferring a tried-and-true design.
Traditional seating arrangements give every employee their own space, whether in the form of cubicles or – in a modern twist on old-fashioned models – assigned seating in an open office layout. Either way, this type of setup allows you to meticulously plan and design your space according to your headcount. To that point, when everyone has an assigned desk, you can constantly plan ahead to make sure there will always be enough space to accommodate every worker. As available space gets tight, it might be time to start looking around for larger space that can absorb your continued growth.
Widely accepted by some of the largest and most progressive companies in the world like Apple and Facebook – although not always met with open arms – an open design strives to be the polar opposite of traditional models that rely on aisles of cubicles. With an open design, all of the physical barriers that might have previously separated team members from their neighbors are removed, fostering a highly integrated and communicative working atmosphere.
In doing so, the goal is to develop more thorough lines of communication that can create the chance meetings that lead to increased creativity and teamwork by breaking down segregated silos. However, open office designs certainly have their detractors, typically stemming from significantly higher noise and commotion from phone calls and casual conversations that can impede an employee's ability to concentrate and focus. This can create a lack of privacy that increases stress, reduces morale, and can even be unhealthy to a workforce as germs are easily spread due to the close-knit environment.
Of course, as stated before, there is no single solution that fits each and every startup well. Therefore, take into account your own specific needs and goals to choose an office space design that suits you best. As your organization grows and the need for additional space arises, TenantBase will always be here to help you with your office space needs.