While funky office space might seem more suited to the creative sectors, offices across all types of businesses, especially those in the start- up world needn’t be boring. You might not want to go full-on Google, but there are still steps you can take to ensure your office space is above par. Think fresh, open, organised and just a little bit playful – if your employees enjoy spending time in the office, it stands to reason they’ll perform better when they’re there.

1. Tidy it up

If the purse strings start to quiver in distress at the mention of a full office makeover, this one is for you. Requiring minimal budget, simply organising your space more efficiently can have a big impact on employee performance and wellbeing. You know what your mother would say: a tidy office is a tidy mind… Consider investing in some new storage options – whether that means some snazzy new shelving units to line the walls or just some simple desk storage for employees to keep paperwork in.

2. Let there be light 

Most of us would say that ‘light and airy’ is preferable to ‘dark and dingy’ but you’d be surprised how many offices fall into the latter category. Poorly lit spaces have both a physical and mental detrimental effect: think headaches and eye problems as well as poor concentration and depression. In an ideal world, your entire office would be flooded with natural light but often that’s not the case. If you don’t have the budget, time or inclination to replace all your walls with windows then the next best step is to look at your lighting infrastructure. One of the simplest things you can do is to provide on-desk lighting for individual employees. By giving staff a measure of control over their environment you empower your team and increase satisfaction – it’s a small thing that can have a big impact.

3. Make space to create

Corporate businesses should still be encouraging creativity and self-expression, even if your industry is downright serious. Think about creating spaces that employees can personalise, be that a simple pin board for each desk or some more out-there options such as graffiti tables or chalkboard walls. By allowing your team to express this creative side, you’ll increase engagement, encourage creative problem solving and likely see productivity increase too. One of the biggest mistakes corporate businesses can make is to force employees to conform to a corporate personality all the time. Let people express their individuality and they’ll enjoy their work more and perform better as a result.

4. Think green

Plants are good for the soul. Well, that and the air quality. Employees might be ‘stuck’ inside, but you can recreate a little of the outside easily enough by adding greenery around the office. While a living wall might be overkill, you can easily reap the benefits of greenery by dotting pot plants around the office. There are hundreds of low-maintenance indoor plants that are ideal for livening up your office space, and they’re not going to break the bank either.

5. Ask your employees

The stereotypical corporate office is huge, impersonal, dull and stifling. In most cases, it couldn’t be further from the environment employees would design themselves if you gave them the option. So why not ask them? Sure, some suggestions aren’t feasible or, that dreaded phrase, “on brand”. But there will be things you haven’t thought of that could be easily implemented and could make a big difference to office morale. By creating an interactive process and asking employees for their opinion, you’re sending the message that you value, respect and listen to your team. There’s nothing better for productivity and performance than that.

The best advice you’ll hear when it comes to your office space is this: lighten up a little. Your business might be corporate but the people you hire are still that – people. Allow some personality to creep into your office and you’ll be surprised how much difference it can make to employee engagement, productivity, performance and longevity.