startup inspired office design

Tech Startup-Inspired Office Design Ideas

Startup-inspired office design takes its cues from the hotbed of innovation and inspiration of tech office culture. One of the main reasons tech startups are so revered is their unique business models, which allow for greater flexibility reflected in edgy office design and work style. Most startups operate on a shoestring and a skeleton crew, they value every square foot, hand select every employee and closely monitor their performance. The human factor is a significant player in the design strategy that creates the ultimate high-performance workspace environment. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Destination Spaces

The open plan concept and the themed environments of startup incubators like WeWork have set a very high bar for inspired tech startup office design concepts. After all, most entrepreneurs start in coworking spaces. Austin boasts The Domain, a beautiful team-centric environment with a stylish den-like atmosphere.

What WeWork did was create a destination unique to the neighborhood. Tech startups are often crafting a niche culture connected with their brand. Building upon that concept can transfer across any corporate lines.

Ultimately,  all businesses strive to create a destination that inspires brand loyalty and productivity. Putting your unique spin on this concept with art, color, great space planning and design with unique furnishings that speak to your brand is how you achieve it. Tech startups pioneered creative meeting spaces, multi-purpose breakroom and open-concept office layouts that improve the morale of employees and directly contribute to productivity. Shaping this to fit your business model is a great starting point for your office design.


The startup culture thrives in a barrier-free environment. So borrowing from the openness of resort design creates a relaxed open vibe erasing the boundaries between all levels of management as well as the physical space, ie, bringing the outdoors inside. An increased effort to flood spaces with natural light has created unique atrium spaces with more glass and fewer walled office spaces. Rooftop spaces have become usable office space, with sliding window walls that convert into stunning meeting and entertainment spaces that make client pitches and events unique. Hardwood flooring is making an appearance in office design and can provide a warm earthy element to an indoor/outdoor office space.

If it is not possible to increase natural light in your office, reinvent your artificial light policy with LED lighting and look for unique lighting fixtures to exemplify your style

Meet Ups

How important are meetings to the way you do business? The layout of your office can greatly affect the format meetings take. The average tech office worker spends 31 hours in meetings every month, so they perfected unique smaller meeting environments that stimulate productive conversations. They are not conference room people. They huddle. And they have become nomads with smaller, more highly functional breakout workspaces dispersed around the office.

Conference rooms might still be part of your equation, but they may become smaller and more accessible for internal departments. Or maybe it’s time to multipurpose your breakroom into a more openly casual meeting space. A well-composed presentation, with adequate tech-support, in the form of a state of the art concealed teleconferencing system can be a massive boost to internal and external communications that can happen anywhere in your workspace.

Open To View

Tech developers spend a lot of time in dimly lit spaces sitting in front of a computer. This still holds true for many businesses. To break up the monotony of this necessity, embrace the flexible work concept. This trend opens up a world of possibility from traditional corporate to sales. Allowing your team to work in a different place every day or every few hours, is a trend that has come to the forefront of recruitment and retention across the business world. Any size business  can benefit from this “workstation wherever your laptop is” model.

Providing your staff with flexible options that encourage them to take their computer anywhere in the office to work is a great incentive to creative thinking and problem-solving. Especially in a very structured environment. Designing hives, small groupings of sofas or clusters of standing desks that can encourage movement and a change of scenery has been shown to boost morale and productivity.

Breaking Out

With commercial office space at a premium, many businesses are acquiring unique loft spaces and renovating them. There is often nowhere to go but up and out with these spaces! As mentioned, roof top work access has been a huge trend this year. A wooden deck on the roof can create an alternative meeting space, where your employees will be able to go for a change of environment. Providing fire pits and outdoor kitchen facilities will give this space many functions for both office gatherings and entertaining.

A traditional breakroom contains a water cooler, chairs, and tables unless it’s also connected to the office kitchen, in which case it’s a bit more versatile. This is boring. Meetings today have become a more relaxed and casual affair. The coffee bar culture has driven this change. Breakrooms are now more open to the rest of office so they can equally serve as touchdown and meeting spaces, as well as places to blow off steam with game tables like ping pong, pinball machines or video games.

Don’t get carried away with the games, because they can instigate competition and noise, but you get the picture. Design a multifunctional space for diversion, creative conversation and recharging. Speaking of which, make this a wifi free zone so your team can check in with their family or social accounts. This is a perk that makes office work less restrictive.

Your Next Move

A tech startup is a great incubator for ideas and the cutting-edge technology that comes with this fascinating industry.  But this is an industry forged behind a computer screen. This lead them to pioneer unique themes for their office designs could involve booths instead of desks, a benching system that feels like a bar with bar stools. Conferencing could be around a pool table of a real pool.

At the end of the day, the limit is really just your imagination. You have to determine which of these aspects you want to embrace for your business model. For those with a bit more developed creative side, even embracing individual elements and combining them into something completely custom shouldn’t be out of the question.

When you think back on all the jobs you’ve had, or the places you’ve been that you wanted to work because there was just something magical about them…that is where you begin your office design inspiration. Seek to create a unique environment that blends the culture of the location with the agenda of the office and meeting spaces. This is a trend we will see in office design for the foreseeable future.

Photo by Matthew Millman

janice-blogMEET JANICE COONS: Janice assists clients seeking furniture for offices, healthcare, and higher education. Connecting with your business needs to create an open office design that is uniquely yours. Connect with her via email or by calling 888-910-3769 x113. For more inspiration visit us on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter!