You know when an office space feels good.  It sets a good mood and is easy to be productive. Bad workspaces feel dingy and neglected and result in low productivity and even poor morale. Whether you are setting up for hundreds or just your own startup space, you need to make the environment inviting and energizing.

Not everyone can afford top brand cubicles and designer chairs and yet the aesthetic and ergonomic effect on the people working could make a drastic difference in output. Get it right and people will be happy and  productive. Get it wrong and the result is a dull, uncomfortable and lifeless environment that people have to endure throughout their time with the company.

Sean Belnick, CEO and founder of BizChair.com, has dedicated his entrepreneurial career to helping people set up the right work environment on a budget. At 14 years old, he taught himself HTML programming and built a website to sell office chairs online. After investing $500 for advertising and hosting, he became a millionaire by age 16 and has grown his company to more than $200 million in revenue.

In a recent interview, Belnick, a member of YPO, gave me simple tips to help anyone build a dream workplace on a budget.

1. Focus on function, not form. 

"Many office managers try and focus too much on the design element for items, especially office chairs," said Belnick. "While the design is important, it is far more important to have a well-functioning item that is comfortable. Your employees will thank you and you'll most likely save a decent amount of money with some more utilitarian chairs." 

2. Buy in bulk. 

Unless it's just you, or you have very few employees, buying items individually is likely both a waste of time and money. If you expect to grow the company and add more employees, then it makes even less sense to buy certain necessary items, such as chairs and  desks, on a case-by-case basis. Belnick emphasized the financial and time-saving importance of buying in bulk. "In many cases, adding another chair or two to an order has minimal impact on shipping costs adding only incremental cost," added Belnick.

3. Fit your needs and style.

Buying expensive and trendy items for the office definitely projects an image. But high cost doesn't necessarily translate to high comfort or the right culture. "You can certainly go into the value segment below and luxury segment above, but most items can be found in a good value brand in the middle without sacrificing features and comfort," advised Belnick.

4. Invest in the break room.

An office is not simply a bunch of chairs and desks thrown together so that people can work. Done right, the break room provides a respite from the  stress or mental drain that employees may experience daily. "A great option for break rooms is multi-purpose commercial furniture such as metal restaurant tables and chairs. Make that break room pop with some color and flair while not breaking the bank," recommended Belnick.

5. Be eco-friendly.

People want to feel good about how a company buys for the employees. Investing in a space that is environmentally-friendly will boost morale as well, making workers feel they are considerate of the world around them. "You don't have to spend a lot to be eco-friendly. Many items are made with recyclable materials as well as items that minimize the impact on the  environment," explained Belnick.

6. Get employees involved!

One person's idea of fun and inviting may be another's working nightmare. The only true way to make the office fit your people is to engage them in the design process. You can encourage employees to bring in their own personal items to decorate the venue. This will save decorating dough and make people feel that the office is truly their second home.

Each week Kevin explores exclusive stories inside YPO, the world's premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.            

Published on: Aug 5, 2016
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