In both business and life, we measure growth by how we meet challenges and adapt to change, not by our physical size.
For businesses and startup companies, this can mean major cultural shifts in very brief periods of time. One day, you’re a few people with a great concept camping out in a co-working space, the next you’re meeting with potential investors and realizing that you will need to triple your staff to keep up with your work load. You are suddenly navigating a new era for your organization, trying to build a culture to recruit and retain talent. The environment where you choose to do business is a concrete representation of your company values, and is one of the most valuable assets you can create. Wherever a startup may be on the spectrum of growth, here are few key elements to keep in mind as you go from startup to grown up.
- Practicalities. It’s tempting to start picking out modern furniture and selecting what beers might be on tap, but when searching for a space, start with the practical. Parking and transportation (Is there enough? How far will your staff have to walk? How close is public transit?). Restrooms. How much are you planning to grow within your initial lease timeframe? How much space do you need for conference rooms, collaboration spaces, dedicated desks, offices, or hoteling stations? Though these elements may seem formulaic they can have a profound effect on your budding culture, and your ability to attract and retain the talent you need to keep growing.
- Location. Depending on what industry you’re serving, who and where your clients are, and who and where your workforce is, location is equally important. Both of these elements must be weighed equally, as your location has just as much influence on your growth as your facility. Hunter Stunzi, President of SnapCap (recently acquired by LendingTree) recounted on a recent panel discussion that his organization moved from an out-of-the-way space on a prominent street to a suite in the Cigar Factory, which boasts the cache of a loft-style office with views of the Charleston Harbor. He reports that the space has been great for recruiting and bringing in clients. So successful, in fact, that he’s now running out of room (see above, Practicalities).
- Space Planning. What type of work do the people in your organization do? What are the mini-cultures of your organization: engineering, design, sales, leadership, corporate resources? These groups interact with each other and among themselves very differently, and need different things from their spaces. The sales team might spend a lot of time pacing the floor on the phone; the engineering team might like quiet, isolated heads-down space; and the design team might need pin-up or whiteboard space for collaboration. It’s important to give teams the space they need to help them do their best work. And a bit of a heads up: don’t be surprised when everyone wants to move their desks around on the first day. It’s part of their process, so a space that allows them to do that will be even more ideal for them (and practical for you, in the long run).
All of these elements – how big, where, and how your space is arranged – directly shape your organization’s culture. When your space reflects who you are and aspire to be, and complement how your people like to work, you are well on your way to developing the culture you need to drive your organization forward.
Our experience designing effective, well suited workspaces for some of the most innovative companies in the world has taught us that spending time discussing these key questions at the outset is critical. From projects with small startups to industry leaders like Boeing and JetBlue, we have learned that companies who spend time up front thinking through their growth strategies are able to react and stay focused on maintaining their culture.
It’s more than finding an office space, it’s starting a discussion about what your culture and growth strategy will be.
For more information about BRPH and our corporate interior design capabilities, contact Rob Byers, BRPH Director of Interior Design, at 843-743-0243 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rob Byers is the Director of Interior Design for BRPH. His 20 years of experience includes a wide variety of architecture and interior design projects. As a design leader, Rob has excellent knowledge of materials and construction techniques. He is known for being a skilled communicator and develops excellent relationships with clients through his ability to listen to their needs.