Every morning when I begrudgingly pull myself out of my memory foam mattress, I have a moment where I dread getting up, showering, and shuffling off to work. But then I look out my window where I can see all the houses scattered on Twin Peaks, and the sun rising from the east always casts beautiful colors across the city line and I remember: I work in San Francisco.
Monday through Friday, I travel to a beautiful office with interesting people from all over the world; when I snap back to reality I can hardly stop myself from running into the bathroom before my roommate gets the chance to claim it. Like the first day of school, I am excited to go downtown and work. Shouldn’t all employees feel this way about their job?
The Principles of S.T.Y.L.E.
I might not be so excited about coming to work at btrax if they hadn’t remodeled the office just a few months ago. I already know that the office space has made a big impression on me, but after exploring the effect of office design on business productivity, I became curious as to what my co-workers thought about the remodel, and what factors went into the redesign of our office.
After becoming more familiar with the basics of good office design, I have come up with a few important points of S.T.Y.L.E. that btrax incorporates at our office, and I think it is a good guideline for other startups to follow. S.T.Y.L.E. stands for Strategize, Translate, Youkou, Leisure, and Excite.
How do you want to promote your brand? Your office space and design should reflect your strategy to get the best perception from your clients and coworkers.
Here at btrax we have incorporated several colors from our logo color scheme, as well as our logo at the reception area. Additionally, our employees have placed btrax logo stickers on our computers, desk spaces, or other odds and ends in order to instill our brand.
Your values, policy, and work ethic should translate into every aspect of your business, including office design.
“Innovate globally through inspiring experiences,” is our mantra for creativity and it can be found in several places in the office. We are known to deliver “cool-kawaii” results and strive to make our office reflect our nature. Every employee has decorated their space with their favorite things in a creative way.
We also allow employees to express themselves in their dress; as long as they are presentable and maintain great hygiene, btrax employees can come to work in any fashion they please.
Aside from our creative core, our company structure is currently very flat, with open communication. In our remodel, we have completely opened up our office space to encourage face-to-face communication. The lack of private offices forces us to mutually respect each other. We also strive to reflect our transparency in the lack of any private space in the office, including a glass-walled meeting room.
The Japanese word for “Sunshine,” Youkou is an important aspect to incorporate into your office design.
Make sure that some light shines through! No one wants to work in a dark, stuffy office. Adding elements of nature such as sunlight and air can really improve the well-being of your company. One of the biggest reasons San Franciscans love to be here is because of the beautiful sunshine.
Our suite in the Northern California Print Building has big warehouse-style windows that let in beautiful light all day; it isn’t until the sun goes down that we have to turn on any of the main lights. Every corner of our office has live plants, we have the typical water cooler, and many of us are tea fanatics. By incorporating different elements of nature, it won’t feel like you are “stuck” inside all day.
Rest periods are as important as work periods for employees. Promote comfortable areas with a relaxing atmosphere for eating breaks, naps, or brainstorming.
Our office chairs are ergonomic; you may even work sitting on an exercise ball if you are so inclined. We want our employees to be comfortable while they are working hard so that we can get the most productivity at our time in the office without compromising our human well-being. If btrax had one point of S.T.Y.L.E. to improve on, it would be our leisure space.
Currently, we don’t have a designated area for employees to relax, unwind, eat lunch, or brainstorm ideas. Usually the conference room ends up being the default cafeteria. I hope that with input from my employees, I as Office Manager can find a space in our office to utilize as the designated rest area, and improve it’s accommodation for a relaxing atmosphere.
Your employees should be excited to come to work every day. Inspire them with interactive design.
The most exciting part about our company is that all our employees are from very diverse backgrounds. In total our office speaks 4 languages fluently: Korean, Japanese, English, and Chinese. Having an open space that allows everyone to communicate and exchange cultural experiences with each other is a truly exciting part to the openness of our office design. Rather than putting up walls to separate our differences, btrax has torn them down and subsequently the flow of cross-cultural communication has increased.
btrax: Before and After
The thoughts behind our redesign centered around opening up our office space. The cubicles restricted the amount of people; it was hard to fit more than six people total in our main space. After tearing the cubicles down, we now can fit up to 15 people in our office.
The walls discouraged face to face communication and created unnecessary movements to collaborate with colleagues. The open space now allows us to bring people out of the creative space, encouraging collaboration with all employees and opening up space for us to consider having the creative room double as a refreshing and relaxing area for employees to retreat.
Recently, I even re-arranged my desk to allow more space in my office for myself and the project manager that occupies the room with me. Clearing a space to walk and actually pull out my chair completely from the desk immediately made me more relaxed at my desk. I am looking forward to spending the rest of the year in this office now that I don’t feel like I’m trapped in a back corner.
If you feel uneasy or stressed at work, consider changing the layout of your office, or adding something beautiful to your work space to make you feel more at home. Best of luck!