Business and EDU

What You Can Learn from Startup Offices

Tapping into the startup spirit in your business goes beyond setting up espresso machines and hoping the spirit of innovation takes hold. You can organize the energy of individuals, and use that spirit to serve a purpose. The magic behind startup offices is that people feel they can be creative together as well as in isolated spaces. A simple environment can encourage inspired output.

Tear Down the Walls

Bare-bones minimalism eliminates distractions to put everyone in the room on the same level. It may seem like a fish bowl for some workers. For others, this setup is the way ideas come about through caffeinated interaction.

If you see that your business leans toward the cold format of walled-off sections separating workers from project managers, then it may be time to empty the space. Replace cubicles with basic utility tables and electrical outlets or charging stations for laptops. Make sure chairs are ergonomic for maximum comfort and spend what you need on technology that moves the work to completion.

You might decide to set up whiteboards for ideas and note taking, and keep technology within reach for work or to capture inspiration at the office or in the field. If you have a team away for management training in NJ, for example, make sure they can either Skype in for a chat or communicate in real time with everyone back at headquarters to benefit from the remote input.

Out of the Spotlight

You can set aside space for workers who want some quiet time for more concentration. Areas to relax and work away from the crowd can be as informal as Google-style beanbag chairs or Foursquare’s themed rooms. These seating areas create another perk as serene getaway places for individuals to have impromptu one-on-one meetings or quiet zones to call clients.

Keep the Food and Drinks Flowing in Moderation

Many startups keep refrigerators stocked and espresso machines humming to keep code writers happy and focused. Your company, even if workers are not writing code, still may generate something that benefits from having the team on site and not wasting time with vending machines or taking extended lunch breaks off site. Your on-site kitchen can be a perk that defines the essence of your workplace. The workers can set up the kitchen as they wish.

As far as alcohol is concerned, many startups allow drinking on site after 5 p.m. as a nod to the end of a traditional workday even as their own day continues. With moderation in mind, a few drinks could spar a breakthrough idea for the next project. Be careful with this privilege because creativity may rule early in the drinking hours but plummet to nonexistence after two or three drinks.

The Work is Never Done

Don’t feel bad about a space that has exposed ducts or bare walls. Workers at Facebook’s Menlo Park site emphasize that those raw elements are a mirror of their own work, which is never finished. A space that is open for opportunity will not shut the door on creativity, particularly if there are few, if any, doors in evidence.

Image Credit: Marcin Wichary

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