Office space can be a bit cramped, especially if the company is in its developing stages or has recently branched out to a new area and things are getting sorted out in a snails pace – with all the permits that you need to get, rent, various bills to pay, shopping for equipment and furniture, the whole thing can be a nightmare. It can be a bit easier to tackle a problem if you start of with some kind of game plan rather than just rushing into the unknown, flailing your arms and screaming at the heavens. So here are a few tips to get you started.
The reception room
This will obviously be an area where your clients will spend a good deal of their time, so it is important to keep them comfortable. A bench and some newspapers simply won’t do if you have any amount of ambition and wish to run a serious business. Reception desks come in a wide variety of designs, so going for a more adventurous look is a good thing and it won’t cost you too much. Cranked reception desks or semi circular ones with more natural lines, with colors matching the walls give of a more friendly vibe than the sharp, ninety degree angle desks. As for furniture, you really should look at furniture sets, chairs matching the desk, maybe even a small comfortable couch (not the kind in your living room, smaller and more workplace appropriate versions are readily available) and some flowers. You might need a professional at this point, if you aren’t much of a decorator yourself, but don’t go out of your way to make the place shine. You can take a few photos of your reception area and then show them to the salesman and ask him/her for advice on what furniture would be best suited. The same goes for flowers, have a nice hearty chat with the florist and get some feedback, the color, size, smell and maintenance level are all important factors that must not be overlooked. Have a fresh stack of magazines on the desk every month, and don’t just get a few random ones, actually put some thought into it and factor in the type of clientele you will likely have: a few car/gun/technology and science/movie magazines for the guys and some fashion/home decoration/health magazines for the ladies.
The slave pit
This is a colorful name for your main work area, the clustered workstations or rows of cubicles where the common folk dwell. For a creative, teamwork driven environment I would much prefer an open type office, where you have a bunch of pre-fitted workstations attached to one another in an arrangement that best suits your needs – anything from two simple rows of desks to circular, horseshoe or block type arrangements. If cubicles are preferred than panels, screens or full fledged partitions should be used on a well mapped out area before proceeding with other furniture and equipment. A water cooler (or several depending on the size of your office) coffee machine and a fridge will be necessary – a small separate room equipped with a sink, cupboard, microwave oven and fridge can be provided for making drinks and snacks. Having a small snack bar, fully stacked and decently equipped, can make a great difference – it saves time on brakes and helps keep moral up. Some upscale companies include recreation rooms, or at least some recreational equipment and colorful decorations to help their workforce keep their energy and concentration levels up when working long hours. Japanese companies have a long tradition of organizing exercise brakes, ten or so minutes of mandatory exercise twice a day to ensure their employees health doesn’t suffer from the long hours of sitting or standing in one place – just a thing to take into consideration.
The executive area
Boardrooms, private offices and their corresponding waiting rooms need a little more thought devoted to them. Even if there are only two small offices down the hall from the main work area you need that little hall to scream style and success. More comfortable chairs are recommended for this area – the fixed base, medium back, extra foam, quality leather variety – accompanied with an elegant glass and steel desk. The offices themselves can have a bit more personal touch, so we won’t go into too many details here, just keep in mind that you want to show class and elegance, but in a subdued, almost under the radar sort of way. Yes, you have high back leather chairs and a heavy, mahogany desk, but it all seems to fit in nicely with the rest of the place. A nice long boardroom table with some comfortable medium back, leather office chairs and some flowers and paintings thrown in should be quite adequate for most meetings. If you feel this isn’t enough and you have money for a more exotic and luxurious executive area, then chances are the only advice you will need is from your highly paid team of famous interior designers, so feel free to skip this part.
So, to sum things up, the reception area should have some sunlight, flowers and comfortable office furniture, the main work area needs to be carefully planned out and arranged, but keep it simple and have most of the funds go into the equipment rather than the furniture, although some ergonomic office chairs, coffee machine and creative decorations can only help increase productivity. The executive area, or at least the separate offices will need a little more glamour but keep it tasteful and professional (unless your field is art, design or fashion in which case you can do as you damn well please and people will just assume they are ignorant and that you know better). Remember, your company should have a distinct look, something to make it stand out, but at the same time appear serious and professional.