How to Design Your Startup Office for Performance and Innovation


The first thing you would notice if you were to observe the latest trends in startup office design is the fierce competition for being ‘cool’. Every company set out to attract the brightest of the bunch ditches the drab, unappealing C-suite for casual work spaces and relaxation areas with a raw and edgy esthetic. Almost everybody shares the perception that Millennials, who are projected to become the largest generation in the workforce in 2015, search for fancy and newfangled workspaces that boast amenities such as cafes, play spaces, fitness centers, and health clinics.

But how many of these features are actually essential to office productivity and company culture? For a startup company on a tight budget, is it really necessary to throw thousands of dollars on Ping-Pong tables and flat TV screens in order to reinforce their culture and foster creativity? Of course not. The smartest, most collaborative startup companies know it’s all about attaining a nice combination of space for working and space for playing, and they do so by sticking to the following rules.

Keep It Open and Cozy

No matter how controversial the open space design may be, it’s clearly here to stay. However, optimal collaboration in an open floor plan is not possible just by bringing down the walls. The goal is to have a good balance between collaborative space and quiet space as to give employees the chance of choosing the environment they want to work in. The space should be sprinkled with stand-up tables and common meeting areas to encourage easy and spontaneous interaction between people who might not otherwise have the chance of running into each other. It’s also important to remember that the traditional delineation between work and personal life is fading away, the new generation of workers is seeking to work in a space that feels more like home than a conventional workspace.

Stop Assigning Desks

Office Interior Design Toronto

Replacing cubicles with communal tables and unassigned desks is not only a way of shrinking the company’s footprint and accommodating an increasingly mobile work force. The new configurations are also bringing some unexpected benefits, from promoting closer collaboration between team colleagues to achieving a more creative space design. Shared spaces strengthen the bond between team members, fostering creative drive to be more productive by maintaining spirits engaged on a consistent basis. For people who crave the opportunity to feed off the lively energy of relevant colleagues, hot-desking is the perfect solution.

Don’t Pinch Pennies when It Comes to Health & Comfort

Employee health and well-being is an increasingly relevant consideration in the modern workplace, for several reasons. Put simply, improving the health status and well-being of your workers allows you to build competitive advantage for your organization. Since employee health and comfort are directly linked to work behavior, attendance, and on-the-job performance, investing in the wellbeing of the people who work for you will ultimately result in a more productive workplace. Specifically, you will be able to achieve:

  • Higher productivity
  • Reduced error rate
  • Decreased sickness and absenteeism
  • Fewer resignations and job terminations
  • Higher employee morale and job satisfaction
  • Fewer disciplinary incidents
  • Greater talent attraction and retention rates

Divide Your Office into Attraction Zones

In recent years, business owners have become more interested in understanding the needs of the people who work for them and providing appropriate accommodation to support them. As a result, office spaces have become less formal and more geared towards providing an array of spaces that workers can choose to work in. Studies have shown that employees who have control over their environment report higher levels of job satisfaction and work performance. If you really want to retain key talent with your design, think of your office space like a small city and establish several ‘points of interest’, where people can work and relax as they please.

Ultimately, the goal of office managers is to create an innovation hub that facilitates higher levels of communication and allows for rapid information sharing without excluding individual progress. And in the fast-paced, high-stress environment of a startup, achieving a happy medium where people can easily collaborate, communicate, and connect with each other is the key to putting a company on the path for greatness.

About the Author Lynne Lemieux

Lynne Lemieux, Founder and President of Alliance Interiors Inc., has devoted more than 20 years of experience developing and implementing growth opportunities for some of Canada's leading office furniture dealers. Her ability to provide clients with inspiring and versatile interior solutions for both business and home office environments has garnered her title of Aboriginal Business Woman of the Year in the city of Toronto for 2012. In her spare time, Lynne takes an active interest in politics, public speaking, and philanthropy, but also enjoys gardening, interior decorating, cooking, yoga, and traveling.

follow me on: