Designing a knockout office doesn't just give your employees a great place to work--it also helps set the tone for your company and brand.

While there's no formula for how to outfit a great space, many of the startups boasting the sharpest-looking offices today are incorporating similar design principles. Inc. recently discussed trends in office design with Nina Etnier and Brad Sherman, co-founders of New York City-based design firm Float Studio, which has designed and "refreshed" the headquarters of companies including Casper, Bombas, and Bonobos. 

Here are four office design tips from the Float co-founders.

1. Design for flexibility.

Because companies will grow their head count, restructure teams, or make slight adjustments to the way they work during the course of an office lease, designing your space in a way that allows for changes can be crucial. 

"What could originally function as an open lounge area or standing work area could eventually grow into becoming workstations," Sherman says, adding that movable partitions are a common tool for flexible design. "Flexibility for young companies is extremely important when they're figuring out who they are and how they work best."

2. Don't neglect common spaces.

Just because your employees do the majority of their work at desks doesn't mean you can skimp on common spaces when it comes to design. Whether it's a conference room or a hallway, every corner of your office can contribute to the larger design scheme. "The interstitial space between where you actually sit down and do your work is such a unique opportunity to express the culture and the brand and have an amazing design moment," Etnier says, adding that a great common space can become a "magnetic force" for an office. "They can be areas for a presentation, town hall, or [for] entertaining. It's also what you want to bring a visitor or investor through to just get a quick sense of who you are and what the heartbeat of the company is."

3. Prioritize lighting.

Lighting design might not be something your employees are likely to notice, but it's still important. And having overhead lights on full blast all day long isn't the solution to your office's lighting needs. "You want your workstations to be light and bright--you don't want your eyes to be strained--but there is a really nice opportunity to lower the lights [and] use secondary lighting like wall sconces," Etnier says. "Gone are the days of the two-by-four flickering fluorescents."

4. Incorporate a residential vibe.

As work-from-home policies have become more widespread, office design has shifted toward more comfortable, less corporate work environments. "The whole idea is that people want their workspace to feel more like home," Sherman says. "That really makes for a space with variety, that feels more inviting."

Published on: Sep 10, 2019