While every start-up ensures to take smartest people on board, they also have to ensure that these smart people continue to deliver smart work. This is where office design, architecture and culture comes into picture. If creative people have to remain creative they need a creative ambiance. An office is not just four walls to support a roof top, It is the lifeline of the start-up. It is the second home to a bunch of underpaid employees working overtime, trying to remain motivated. Hence it is the duty of the founder to design a creative and innovative informal office.
The biggest problems in designing cool offices are
- a)Most start-ups ignore the role of offices in their success.
- b)As a founder of (say) technical firm, CEO hardly has any idea about how to build a cool office.
How to build a cool office?
- (i)Open floors Vs cubicles
Most start-ups prefer open floor to conventional cubicles. This helps in seamless interaction among the employees. Moreover it is inexpensive and brings in transparency and accountability. It also increases the efficiency as every possible assistance is just a call away.
- (ii)Tertiary spaces
William Faulkner said “A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station….”. Start-ups should ensure that work doesn’t stop at work station. Start-ups should create ‘tertiary spaces’. These are neither work stations nor conference halls but are spaces within company where employees can debate and discuss informally. These can be used for brain storming session. Such places should be quite and isolated from the buzz of the company.
- (iii)Bring your own device(BYOD)
Apart from using innovative design, employees should be allowed to use their own device s in the office. Many companies won’t let you carry your device into offices, others wont let you use these to access company’s information. On the contrary Intel Corp. said it saw nearly a 3-million-hour productivity gain in the first half of 2012 from letting workers bring their own smartphones, tablets and laptops to the office.
- (iv)No strings attached
Its time to move beyond wired technology and ensure mobility as far as convenient. So that employees are not pinned to their work stations. Promoting Wifi technology and cloud computing, employees has luxury to switch places and devices while at work. By encouraging mobility devices, start-ups can stay ahead of competitors.
- (v)Personalized work-space
Employees should feel at home while at work. Hence there should be enough scope for them to personalise their work-space as per their taste and preference.
- (vi) Out of box ideas
Gone are the days when a Billiard or TT table was enough. Now companies need to think out of the box, create bed rooms where employees can rest and/or work or create music rooms where they can enjoy their favorite music at work. For ex; Infosys has a swimming pool and bowling alley.
Why startups need cool offices?
Having understood how to build cool offices, many of you might still be wondering as to why do we need cool offices when regular one would do? Here’s why
- (i)Office reflects your culture
A cool office reflects a cool start-up. Offices widely reflect the culture and ethos of the company. An office ,where employees have to swipe their cards for every entry/exit or where employees are under CCTV surveillance, will surely have trust issues.
- (ii)Increase integrity
Imagine Mark Zuckerberg or your CEO sitting on desk right across yours. Won’t it be a great morale booster for employees. This way start-ups can rip-off hierarchy and employees develop a sense of attachment with the organization.
- (iii)Remain Creative
While finding creative persons for start-ups is a meticulous task. It is more difficult to ensure that they remain creative. Innovation and creativity can’t stem from regular offices.
Cool offices don’t always mean extra investment. It is more about implementing out of box ideas. For ex, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) can help cut company cost while increasing the overall productivity.
The point that I want to drive home is that role of offices in start-ups is as important as employee selection. While it is mostly under-rated, it can be the thin line that divides a successful enterprise from the unsuccessful ones.