There comes a time in every company’s lifespan where it’s time for a change to the office, especially as you grow. Some new paint, new furniture, or maybe even a new building and location altogether.
If you budget isn’t sky high, don’t fret! There are still ways to design the office space of your dreams...or at least a space that makes you and your team happy and comfortable.
Justworks’ Creative Director, Adam Meisel, discussed the process he and the office design team took on creating a new space for the team from scratch — from floor to wall.
9 Tips to Plan Your Small Office Design
Determine Your Purpose First
If you’re redesigning a new space, take time to understand the purpose behind it.
“We wanted to focus on our values,” said Adam. “We asked ourselves, how do those values align with what we’re trying to accomplish?” (Justworks’ company values are Compassion, Openness, Grit, Integrity, and Simplicity.) This translated into a space that felt warm and welcoming for visitors, and encouraged collaboration and openness between coworkers.
Most likely it’s because you’re outgrowing your current space, but some people might want to offer employees a place to relax and kick back, or to energize and allow for more collaboration. Make sure everyone’s on the same page before you move forward.
Before the Justworks team started on designing the new space, they took a step back and looked at the overall goals of the space. Instead of expanding into one new large building, they ended up keeping their main offices but renting another large space a few floors below. Adam knew it was important to represent the company’s values within the new space.
2. Loop in Key Stakeholders Early
Before any decision becomes too concrete, loop in key stakeholders early in the process. Make sure everyone is on the same page about aspects around the office decoration, such as:
- Where is the designated space to decorate?
- What is the budget?
- What is the purpose of this office redecoration?
- Who is in charge of ordering, contacting vendors, coordinating with consultants and painters, etc?
- Where is the overall vision and direction of the decoration going?
- When will the redecoration be complete?
- How long will it take, and what additional resources will be required?
By planning ahead of time and communicating well, you may also prevent costly changes in the future due to a lack of communication.
After the Justworks team spoke with CEO Isaac Oates, they decided the fifth floor would be experimental and light on furniture because it would need to evolve and change as the team continued to grow. It went along with the startup mentality to continue iterating as circumstances change.
3. Make a Mood Board
Putting together an aspiration board will help cement a vision and accurately communicate that vision with the people around you. This is an easy way to play with color, texture, lighting, and types of furniture before you start shelling out money on resources.
Most importantly, a mood board can help sell a vision that a key stakeholder is having trouble getting behind. It’s the power of showing over telling.
Justworks also used mood boards to figure out which direction they wanted to take the new office layout. They played around with stark and minimal looks, wood and plant-heavy, and another board that leaned on brand colors. In the end, they landed on mostly neutral pieces with splashes of brand colors and plenty of plants to liven up the space.
4. Use Repetition to Your Favor
If you’re looking to decorate an office on a budget, using repetition to your advantage is key. Not only does it help save money, but repetition also feels intentional, whereas hodge-podge furniture or decorations can come off as cluttered.
“The more we use the same things, it was easier to do and we could use less expensive things. And since they’re all the same, it looks better, too,” said Adam.
With repetitive pieces, it will also be easier to shuffle or mix-and-match later if the space needs to change around. Additionally, this strategy may give you the advantage of bulk discounts. In the end, it’s better to buy in bulk than lots of one-off pieces that will be hard to match together later on.
5. Decide When to Invest in Quality
When you’re purchasing office furniture on a budget, quality may have to take a hit here and there. However, you don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot by purchasing truly low-quality pieces that quickly fall apart and have to be purchased all over again.
One approach when deciding quality over quantity? Invest in mid-quality pieces for repetition and splurge on singular pieces of furniture that really make the character and statement in the room.
Get an employee happiness survey you can customize.
For example, Justworks’ new conference rooms with glass windows, splurging on a nice table and lighting aligns with the elevated feel of the room. For the other rooms without glass windows, standard tables and chairs match the interior decor and still give a clean, welcome feel.
6. Use Modern Tools
Before you start buying new pieces of furniture, outline an office layout plan on a piece of simple software. If you decide to hire an interior designer, they might already have this feature set up for you.
Software like Sketchup or Adobe Illustrator can help give you a birds’ eye view of the area and help plan for the best office floor plan based on the space that you have. Luckily, most of these tools might already come with your work, or you can find similar ones for free or low-cost online. Adobe also offers 30-day free trials.
7. Demonstrate the Benefits of a Budget Increase
Sometimes, your budget isn’t going to be enough for the office space you want to build. Instead of trying to squeeze your new office into that tight box, see if you can get increased interest and investment in the space from key stakeholders in the company.
Get all the right stakeholders in front of you for a presentation to review goals and provide tangible proof points. Examples of those proof points include:
- Mood boards
- Modeled spaces
- Examples from other offices
- Data to support your vision
By showing these to the company, you may inspire people in the company of the space’s potential and garner buy-in to offer additional resources.
8. Wait for the Best Deals
Patience is a virtue. If you have time on your side, use it to your advantage. Bookmark pieces of furniture you’re interested and wait for them to go on sale, especially if they might go on sale in bulk.
If you can’t wait for something to go on sale, see if you can use enterprise discounts to your advantage. Many businesses will offer discounts or allow you to negotiate on prices when you’re buying in bulk.
9. Add Some Life
Plants are a budget-friendly and wonderful way to add some liveliness to your office. In fact, a series of studies found that adding plants to a minimal office space can increase employee productivity by up to 15%.
Sunlight also plays a vital factor in employee productivity. A study conducted by the journal SLEEP found that employees exposed to more natural light in the office slept 46 minutes a night and functioned better during the day.
Whether your office redesign includes finding more ways to let natural light in, or livening up the space with plants, it’s a fix that will help your office perform better and keep employees happy.
Designing a new office space is a large undertaking, especially when you’re on a tight budget.
One of the most useful tools in your box will include smart planning and setting goals. Find inspiration that will get everyone excited about the project — by doing so, you can get buy-in from stakeholders to make your dream office design come to life.
Ultimately, any space can feel more lively and welcoming on a budget if you add some life and enthusiasm to the project.