More often than not, startups go against the grain of corporate office culture, and that includes the layouts for offices. It turns out that your typical employees are not more productive in an Office Space-like dystopian environment, but rather thrive when there are more perks & comforts available.

The break room

Many offices have neglected the break room in times past. It is a place where employees can recharge their batteries, and hopefully destress so they can get back on-task with their A-game.

Companies with higher budgets go over the top with break rooms, like adding cereal bars, candy, and staffing baristas. Even as a small startup, you can keep things barebones while being considerate.

Some office break room appliances that are essential:

  • A fridge -- Employees that bring their lunch or snacks need a place to preserve them. For a small team, even a mini-fridge should suffice.
  • A countertop ice maker – I have to include this one since I live in a sub-tropical climate. Employees appreciate having ice on-hand for their water, sodas, or to make iced coffee.
  • A coffee machine – Caffeine kick-starts everyone’s morning and keeps creativity flowing until they clock out. Any coffee is better than no coffee, so even the most basic machine would be appreciated.
  • Microwave – Useful for heating leftovers, burritos, or instant noodles for a quick meal.

The Workspace

For startups on a light budget, the last thing to neglect are office chairs. Office workers spend most of their time sitting down, and cheap uncomfortable chairs would be quite apparent.

While there are cheap options on the market, it’s worth putting down hundreds of extra dollars to get high-quality ones that are ergonomic and won’t break within the first year. Trust me, you will save money in the long-run.

As for desk planning, you need to factor in aspects like:

  • Will you have an open office or cubicles
  • Enough space to fit computer equipment and office supplies
  • Easy to move around (foldable desks work too)
  • Have surfaces that require little maintenance

Another overlooked aspect of planning an office is finding the ideal lighting. It affects mood, productivity, and focusing on certain tasks.

Natural light from the window is the healthiest, so take advantage of it wherever you can. If not, get quality LED lights or desk lamps to illuminate spots that are not well lit.

Separate Collaboration Areas

It’s a good idea to have a separate space designed for collaboration, aside from their private workspaces. It can be simply a spot were people pull up on the same desk and have face-to-face contact. You may also consider a more warming environment with comfy sofas, beanbag chairs, and art décor.

Include Your Employees’ Opinion

Since your employees will be the ones having to use the office space, be sure to include their opinions when creating a design. After all, employees that feel in control of their workspace are more productive and have higher retention rates. This may include allowing them to arrange furniture to their liking, and perhaps let them choose a work area daily.

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