The truth is that having a great office is important if you want to attract and retain top talent, especially those that have their choice of where to work.
But you don't have to spend a lot of money to make your office look awesome. Here are a few things that you can use to turn any office into a cooler office that employees will love.
1. Less is more
Nothing makes an office look better than removing the clutter. Try not to store your supplies out in the open or stack unused office equipment in a random corner. If your building offers basement storage, put your empty desks and unused chairs down there until they're needed. Sparsely decorated offices have a clean feeling that permeates through the rest of your employees.
2. Hire quality vendors
Most of the money you'll waste building out your office comes from having to re-do work that didn't get done right the first time. Whether it's help with interior design or painting or installing Wi-Fi, it's important to work with a vendor that you can trust even if it's not necessarily the cheapest option. As with anything, ask friends or neighbors nearby for their referrals.
3. Check under the carpet
Many offices have covered over a gorgeous wood floor or polished concrete because wall-to-wall carpet was the dominant style five to ten years ago. If you have drab carpeting, ask the landlord what's underneath and you may find that an upgrade to hardwood floors or polished concrete is fairly cheap. If you don't have anything pleasant below the carpet, at least ask the landlord to replace the carpet, which they'll often do for free when negotiating a new lease or extension.
4. Break up your space with plants
Open offices may be the rage, but people still enjoy having a sense of privacy. In fact, many employees don't like the open office movement at all. And it's your job to try to make everyone happy.
Plants are cheap and bring in a sense of life to an office. They're moveable, yet significant enough to break up the room. Just don't forget to water them.
Crate and Barrel and NewPro Containers are great places to find nice and reasonably-priced planters in a variety of size to fit the needs of your space.
5. Mix and match your lighting
Lighting fixtures don't have to be expensive to work well. The important thing to do is to combine your light fixtures in different ways. Your main lighting may come from top lit fluorescence that point up towards the ceiling. But you should also bring in lamps that sit on tables and track lighting that points at walls. The combination will create a sense of harmony that people will feel even if they can't tell why.
CB2 and One Kings Lane can also be great sources for affordable lighting options.
6. Arrange your desks to encourage natural light
Many offices have gorgeous windows permanently shaded because of the glare it creates on people's computer screens. All this can be avoided with a little bit of testing up front. Each desk position has good times of day and bad times of day. Often it's as simple as turning a desk configuration 90 degrees to make it so that morning or afternoon sun isn't reflecting off their monitors which will then encourage those employees to keep their window shades open which is helpful to the rest of the office as the natural light spreads throughout.
Still need more ideas? You can check out this list of vendors to find some near you. It's a curated list of the top vendors for everything that you'll need in your office build-out. You can also use the list to browse all sorts of funky products that will give your office more personality.
By the way, just because they're good, doesn't mean that they're expensive.