You've finally signed a contract and received the keys to a new office space. Congratulations! But if you feel intimidated standing inside that big, empty space, don't worry. Setting up an office can be a fun process, even though it requires planning and budgeting just like every other aspect of your business.

Start By Brainstorming

Start with some rough measurements of the office space and a sketchpad. Draw out the area you have to work with, and then let yourself go into "perfect world" dream mode. Imagine a "day in the life" in your office, not only in your own role, but in the role of each of your employees. You need to think about where you will:

  • Store your belongings, including your lunch
  • Sit down to do your work, how much space you need and whether or not you need help to stay focused from distractions
  • Have meetings
  • Interact with clients, if necessary
  • Eat lunch
  • Store extra items or inventory
  • Receive shipments
  • Go to the bathroom

From the list above, you'll start to understand whether you need to make some major modifications to your office space. If it doesn't have a kitchen or bathroom (or neither are currently large enough for your needs), then you'll need to install those. On your piece of paper, create a list of all the spaces you need and then come up with some ideas about where to put them. Eventually, you'll want to take these to an architect in order to have them finalized in precise measurements, ready to hand off to a contractor.

Choosing Furniture Based on Comfort and Aesthetic

Once you have the space you need, it's time to go into design mode again. Choosing office furniture constitutes an important task not only for the physical comfort of your employees and visitors, but also for the emotional signals that the furniture provides.

Traditional gray cubicles, for example, give the impression of an old-fashioned, impersonal business. Open office designs showcase a modern, progressive company. But of course, physical comfort takes precedence. Maybe your employees spend a lot of time on the phone, so cubicles make sense for privacy and fewer distractions. And ergonomic, adjustable chairs and work spaces should always be chosen over "trendy" pieces that look great but feel painful to sit in.

At the very least, you'll need:

  • Enough table space and chairs for each of your employees
  • Tables and chairs in the break room
  • Tables and chairs in the meeting room
  • A reception desk and waiting room chairs
  • Special workstations depending on your company, such as a place to make copies or send faxes
  • Filing cabinets if you need to keep printed copies of documents
  • A sink, fridge, microwave and coffee maker for the kitchen/break room

Office Technology and Communication Systems

Your office's communication systems and technological capabilities can streamline efficiency, but don't get caught up in installing things you don't need. For example, research modern options for phone extensions and voicemail. You don't necessarily need to have a desk phone for each of your employees. Nowadays, you can use mobile phones.

If you plan to have a paperless office with everything stored on the cloud, you probably don't need one of those huge copy machines taking up space. The same goes for fax machines; research online fax options to avoid having to spend money on a machine that will likely collect dust in your line of work.

Projectors or TV screens are sometimes used in meeting rooms for presentations. This might be a wise installation if you often need to evaluate design mock-ups with your team or have other visual reports to share.

Other Office Equipment

Finally, don't forget the nitty-gritty details, which you might not even realize you need until your office is in its first few days of operation. Things like pens, pencils, paper, printer ink, paper clips, batteries, coffee filters, hand soap and more will be necessary when you set up an office.

Don't forget that you can hire an office manager to handle re-ordering items on an on-going basis. But for now, this should help you get started in setting up an office space.