You invest money and time deciding who to hire and how to build your business. Often overlooked or discounted as a frivolous expense is the physical aspect of building your workspace. Interior design is a significant investment, with the power to make your office a more productive environment. The place where you and your employees spend so much time should be conducive to collaboration, provoke productivity, and inspire innovation. These are 6 concepts to consider when embarking on a new or renewed office design:

1. Fit

Office design offers a unique puzzle. Before diving into design elements, reflect on the needs of your business and your employees to guide where you put those puzzle pieces. Ultimately, you want a good fit with a balance of communal and individual space plus flexibility for expansion.

2. Light

Natural light keeps people happier, more alert, and more productive. Cut the glare (and energy costs) of overhead lighting, offer flexible task lighting, and use windows, skylights, and glass divisions to make the most of the sun.

3. Encounters

Take a note from Steve Jobs’s redesign of Pixar studios, which sparked conversation and innovation, by designing a traffic flow or putting in a break room to get people to meet and collaborate. Put down benches in nooks and corners for impromptu meetings. Set up the kitchen area as a multi-use, social space like a café. Paint some chalkboard walls for lounges and kitchens because you never know when inspiration will hit!

4. Colour!

The usual advice for walls is to go neutral, but try pale blue for improved focus. Splash a single wall with orange or red to keep energy high. Leave the bland artwork to hotel rooms and exhibit some art that speaks to you, your employees and your business. Join forces with artists’ collectives and other groups who will loan their art to you to show like a mini-gallery.

5. Breathe

In the quest for creating collaborative energy, don’t forget to leave some breathing room for your employees. Give them enough space to move. To maintain a clutter-free space, provide useful storage options like modular shelves, cabinets and baskets. Bring in some plants to cleanse the air and cultivate a sense of natural life.

6. Brand

Like your business cards and website, the look of your office is a functional, visible extension of your company’s identity. Spend some time thinking about colours, wallpaper, and other décor that will fit in with your brand. The visual statement made by your office will impact visitors, people who come in for meetings, and your own employees. Check out some creative office designs from companies all over the world like Pixar and digg for some inspiration!