By Marilyn Zelinsky-Syarto
Whether you are relocating, expanding, or opening your first business, you want to get your office up and running quickly. According to the National Association of Realtors, the most popular leased commercial spaces are 5,000 square feet and below, which accounted for 87 percent of leased properties in late 2016. No matter how large or small the square footage, an empty leased commercial space feels like a daunting space to fill.
Transform that blank canvas into a thriving workplace by arranging the right furniture in varying layouts and finishing with professional accessories that tell the world you are open for business.
Choose Appropriate Furnishings
Maybe you’ve seen photos of new and start-up offices furnished with card tables and folding chairs. Avoid that phase by wisely investing your resources when it comes to furniture. Focus on key functional pieces to quickly get your office up and running. Gracie Turner, the owner of Gracie Turner Design, a firm specializing in design for start-ups, businesses, and residences in San Francisco, says it’s possible to fill a space with professional energy, even when it’s located in a challenging or older building.
“Cohesive furniture for these types of spaces makes them feel modern, clean, and professional,” Turner advises. “If the furniture is too mismatched and the building shell is old, it can quickly start looking messy and unprofessional.”
Think about how you would like your office to function. Do you envision modern sit-to-stand desks, collaborative teaming tables, touchdown stations that seat a small group for spontaneous meetings, the newest ergonomic task chairs, or mobile laptop stations? Make sure the options you choose fit the feel of the workspace you have in mind. A little forethought ensures your new space is as up-to-date as the corporate crew down the street.
Think About Layouts
Today’s offices are fluid and flexible when it comes to layouts, but there are some traditional components that make or break a space. Whether you are running a solo office, a co-working space, or a workplace filled with creative millennials that require spatial freedom, you need to establish a reception area that welcomes employees, guests, and clients in order to create the right first impression of your company.
Open office plans let you rearrange quickly when faced with fluctuating employee numbers and give you flexibility when colleagues and clients gather to get work done. Stay flexible by incorporating mobile furniture on wheels and eliminating assigned seating. Allow employees to have privacy when necessary, and include choices such as laptop workstations. Keep conference areas smaller and agile. According to research from Herman Miller’s “Living Office” magazine, people typically only use two to four chairs in large, traditional conference rooms designed to accommodate 10 or more chairs on average.
Carve out a lounge area or kitchen, even if you don’t have many employees. Any size will do. Even if it’s a bistro table in the corner with a coffee pot, it signals that hard work deserves a break.
Include Signage and Accessories
Signage is one item you can put in an empty office space of any size to make it immediately look professional.
“A refined and polished company logo, sign, or quote makes a bold statement and a big first impression,” says Turner. “Designing a more polished sign out of wood, metal, or lights makes the space feel much more professional.”
Framed artwork and plants add life to a space when there is little or no natural light, according to Turner. “Fake plants still add life and warmth,” she says about one trick she routinely uses with clients. “Adding natural tones in furniture also brings the outdoors in.”
Transform with Ease
For a financially flexible solution, rent office furniture and accessories. CORT Furniture Rental delivers and sets up professional, high-quality furniture and accessories that instantly make your leased office feel like a professional suite without the burden of ownership. Outfit only the front office, or furnish your space from top to bottom, including appliances for your lounge and kitchen area. When it’s time to expand your space or make a change, it’s easy to find solutions to help you transition to meet the needs of your company.
There’s a lot to consider when creating a professional environment from ground zero, but the rewards are worth it when you plan carefully.
Marilyn spent half of her career writing about corporate, healthcare and retail interiors. She wrote a book on the subject “New Workplaces for New Workstyles” that focused on flexible and temporary spaces, and participated in another business and design book on corporate interiors, wrote for “Facility Management Magazine” and was senior editor of both “Interiors Magazine” and “Home Office Computing Magazine.”