With the onslaught of open office trend articles and and latest technologies, sometimes we forget what makes a great, classic, authentic office design. The deeper foundations of company culture are sacrificed for the new and shiny, and fast design is mistakenly favored over high quality furniture and thoughtful layouts.
A great work space for you and your employees requires attention, time, research, and consideration for the company culture you want to build. Here are some suggestions of what to do–and avoid–when designing your new office.
DO: focus on the psychological comfort of the employee
When you choose to isolate the I.T. department on the bottom floor, separate managers from entry-level employees, or allow one loud group to dominate a room where other employees need quiet, you risk sending the wrong message to the team you’ve spent months or years to build. Psychological comfort in the office is nurtured through one’s environment: the ability to mingle with peers and mentors, regulate the room temperature, adjust noise levels, customize and personalize a desk or work areas, steer clear of distracting scents, or clearly see the company’s values and promises. Whether it’s an integrated layout where everyone meets up at a long table for lunch or you provide a simple respite from the constant Slack notifications, consider ways to make employees happier without lowering creative challenges and expectations for a quality of work.
DON’T: sacrifice your brand identity for discounted furniture
Raise your hand if you’ve browsed office chairs at a big box store or considered a discount warehouse to acquire hutches in bulk. If you’re a small startup and have a limited budget, that’s okay…we all begin somewhere. But eventually, you need to invest in your office like you do any other aspect of your business. You don’t hire people at a discount, so why give them flimsy, poorly made, cheap furniture? Whether you buy a custom, hand-carved wood conference table from a local craftsman or order ten high-quality executive chairs in your brand’s shade of orange, your company culture and values are reflected in where you work. And don’t forget about warranties and protection on your brand’s investment. Your people put your office furniture through a lot each day. With less frequent repairs or replacements, a higher initial investment saves in the long run. If your office depreciates the furniture on a ten-year term and your warranty runs out after 5 years, you could face replacement costs before your budget is ready, and it’s back to square one with picking out new casegoods.