We talk about innovation and office space design A LOT. With good reason too. The most recent studies on productivity, and maximizing your bottom line, are showing us that your office space plays a key role in both. The 1960's saw the absolute rise of the cubicle and office chairs, thanks to Herman Miller and companies began cramming as many people as they could into whatever space they could afford... and everyone learned a few very valuable lessons:

  1. Unmotivated employees are expensive.
  2. Distractions are also expensive.
  3. Getting your office design wrong... is very expensive.

With all of this valuable information, and new office design options optimal for productivity, I thought I would spend some time sorting out the criteria for the top 3 alternative office designs to help you decide if any of these options are the right fit for you. Use this list as a guide, or maybe turn it into an activity and list your specifics next to each bullet point.

Criteria to determine what type of office space works for you:

  • Type of Business (obviously retail needs a retail space)
  • Company Culture (or your brand personality)
  • Type of Work (heads-down quiet, collaborative...)
  • Variety of Work Types (meetings, quiet time, video or audio recording...)
  • Stage of Business (start-up, fast growth, established...)
  • Funding Stage (matched with stage of business but an indicator of how much commitment you can handle)

Alternative Option #1: Co-Working Office

Did you know there are new shared working spaces cropping up everywhere? Like WeWork for example, a company creating community through inspiring workspaces for a 'global network of creators.' The cool office design and the fact that WeWork is in full support of freelancers is only a couple of the reasons I checked them out. I actually tried their model on for size and, for the first time in ten years, found myself working outside my home office. I knew I needed this flexible type of workspace... and actually it became a necessity for me, because a shift in business focus meant taking more local meetings with both clients, interns and freelance partners. I was hesitant to get into any kind of fixed overhead cost, so aside from being a cool-looking space completely ready to work in from day one, the WeWork month-to-month and pay-as-you-grow model fit perfectly with my fast growth business plan. Today I only need access to a conference room a couple of times per week. Tomorrow I might need to move in a small group of marketing interns for a four month project.

One added benefit to note: I did not realize how safe and comfortable I had gotten in my home office. Just being in the WeWork space made me more driven. The invisible push of co-habitating competition has expanded my business thinking to be even bigger and broader than before.

Alternative Option #2: Free-Range Office

Mike Faith, CEO of Headsets.com, has been a CEO without an office for almost 20-years. The environment and culture he has created encourages everyone (himself included) to work wherever it fits best. In Mike's eyes, the traditional office setup is hierarchical and closes you off from the world. He prefers freedom to achieve goals, make fast decisions, to always be testing new things, and to be highly accessible- a new kind of open door policy. In fact, while Mike and I chatted, I did so from my home office workspace, he from a treadmill in the middle of the Headsets.com open plan office. A by-design culture prepared for this open-air, free range, type of office really comes down to personality. It should be noted that to join Mike's team or get hired, it's a litmus test for new hires to see if they fit the culture. That is, one full day of trial by fire, because you can figure out pretty quickly whether or not this will be a good fit.

Alternative Option #3: No Cubicles, Just Chairs

Nobody likes to be boxed in, but is never leaving your chair healthy? Workstation chairs like the ones Altwork designed are increasing in popularity among high tech users but might just be right for you as well. Touted as the new way to work, if you are spending your entire day on the computer, tied down, this may be a great alternative option for you.

The Altwork Station is an all-in-one solution that moves with you. Press a button to use your computer while sitting, standing, collaborating or in a reclined focus position--including a zero gravity option with the monitor above. For decades, sitting at work was standard; with Altwork, any position can be standard. You choose. - Altwork Team

What This Means For You

You have choices, and darn good ones compared to your Dad's cubicle. These are 3 great, alternative workspace options designed to fit your business needs specifically. Remember to take a good look at the criteria, to help you figure out which alternatives might be realistic options for you and your business. Getting the fit wrong can be disastrous, but never getting it right... can be even worse