Gone are the days of the office cubicles and fluorescent lighting. With people spending so much time at work, it’s almost a no-brainer to create a comfortable space where creativity can flow freely. But plenty of business owners forget simple things when it comes to office design, or don’t think about it at all. So, how do the most innovative and collaborative small companies use office design to stimulate minds and reinforce their company culture? They create workspaces that work.

Let Employees Bring Home to the Office

Let your employees bring comforting personal items from home. This costs nothing and it’s a great way to let your team be who they are. Whether it’s a vase of flowers, a framed photo, or their well-behaved dog—it can help brighten up a dull space. Employees will begin to feel more natural which is great for cultivating creative ideas.

Up the Energy

Think of a public place such as a library. It’s known for being a quiet, solitary, and studious place for people to get work done. People tend to talk quieter in such an environment because they don’t want to disrupt the noise levels. In the workplace, however, energy and collaboration should be in full force. If you keep a lot of energy and people in the space, privacy can still be maintained while the creativity flows. Consider having a designated area for this as well as a quiet area.

Get in the Zone

While some people like high energy, others need to work quietly for a moment in order to achieve a goal or process information. Give your employees a choice by setting up different zones in the office. Whether it’s a quiet spot on the couch, a private office, or a high energy meeting room—letting employees roam freely and choose their own environment for the day can work in a positive way.

Let People Choose How to be Creative

Creativity comes in many different forms. What works for one person won’t always work for the next. Some employees prefer to write on whiteboards in big meetings, some prefer to carefully choose each word in an email, others like to draw, and some like to use computers for their creative outlet. Give your employees the tools to help them succeed.

Say Goodbye to Desks

Well, at least some of them. Not everyone needs a desk in the day and age of mobile technology, which is good news for business owners who are tight on money. Save some of the extra cash to put into your office design. Consider rolling desks or couches where several people can sit.

Get Some Sunshine

Adding plants, as well as natural materials and light, is a small change that can make a big difference. Studies show that natural light has positive health effects and can boost creativity. Try to create a space that has several large windows. A glass door opening up to a grassy outdoor patio would be an added bonus where employees can work freely in nature.

Don’t Rush It

Not only can it take a long time to plan the design of your office, but you also need to look ahead to where your business is going. Is it truly important to you to create a company culture and identity through creative office design? Will your business benefit from the change? Are you committed to your business for the next 5, 10, 15, or 20 years? If you answered yes to any of these questions, an office overhaul may be right for your company.

Plan, plan, plan. Don’t spend big bucks only to create a space that doesn’t work.

Creative office designs can play a big role in branding, employee retention and the productivity of your staff. The design should reflect the different work modes people experience on a daily basis and help them succeed through a comfortable and collaborative environment.