How to design a startup office space in London – with practical tips and examples

How to design a startup office space in London – with practical tips and examples

Are you renting offices in London and not sure how to make the most of your space? We’ve put together a practical guide on how to arrange a startup office space and help build a productive and collaborative work environment.


Canvas Offices - How to Design a Startup Office Space London - Bethnal Green

An open plan office in Shoreditch. An ideal based for medium sized startups.


Many London startups quickly outgrow their offices. If your company has a team of 4 or more, you’ll probably prefer working from a private startup office space. Shared workspaces are an affordable solution for early stage startups, but as you scale your company they become increasingly difficult to work in. We regularly speak with teams who’ve matured and have outgrown coworking. They want to put their company name on the door. They need privacy to get their work done. They’ll often talk about issues with their previous landlords, especially some of the shared workspaces. These are usually issues with the internet and other basic facilities or services that every company needs if it wants to operate smoothly. Having a private office for a startup is an important step in the company’s development.


Private offices – The right base of your startup

Having your own office space will give you control of your work environment. But with control comes responsibility. Much like moving into a new home, a new office is a blank slate. It will take some tweaks and adjustments to make comfortable in the new office. The early stages of most companies are crucial in shaping their culture. You’ll probably be recruiting new talent and establishing your company’s values. You would want to attract new talent and retain your existing employees. Your office space makes an impression and has an impact on employees, recruits and potential investors and partners. So with that in mind, what can you do to make your new office an inspiring and fun space? One that’s worth spending time in.


Find Startup Office Spaces in London

At Canvas, we create homely offices for large & small teams. We include everything (meeting rooms too) with a simple, flexible contract.


Finding the right startup office space and designing it to fit your needs

Over the years, we’ve seen hundreds of startups, scale-ups, fintechs and creative companies use our office spaces and grow in them. This has been a very rewarding and eye-opening process for us. We’ve learned and continue learning from the process and would like to share some of the insights gathered while working with some of the most exciting companies in the London startup scene. Renting out offices space in different areas of London, Shoreditch, Clerkenwell, Dalston, Mayfair and Old Street’s “Silicon Roundabout” has taught us about the needs of a wide range of businesses and budgets. It’s been summed up into 4 practical tips that you can apply when designing your new office space.


1. Startup office space ideas – Plants

Canvas Offices - How to Design a Startup Office Space London - Plants

Breakout area in 35 Luke Street. A large office space near Old Street.


London is an urban jungle. If you work in East London, in places like Shoreditch or Old Street, you’re likely to be surrounded by concrete, cars and building developments. There’s a buzz in the air, but it can also grind you down. Can your office be an oasis for your team? What if you surround them with plants and greenery? As you raise your eyes from an hour of high concentration work in front of your Mac’s screen you’ll be greeted by a touch of green that relieves you from technology and the urban landscape.

According to the Executive Academy for Growth & Leadership “Being around plants helps people concentrate better in the home and workplace. Studies show that tasks performed while under the calming influence of nature are performed better and with greater accuracy, yielding a higher quality result”. Filling your office space with plants is also surprisingly affordable, even if you’re on a tight budget for office decor. Try putting some plant pots on work desks, or using hanging plants from the ceiling. Use larger plants in break out areas and meeting rooms.

Canvas Offices - How to Design a Startup Office Space London - Mayfair

A few plant pots can make a huge difference in your work environment. This photo was taken in our Mayfair office spaces which overlooks Selfridges.


Canvas Offices - How to Design a Startup Office Space London - Shoreditch

Adding a generous amount of greenery to this office space in Shoreditch adds fun and playfulness to an otherwise stark rectangular room. Taken in our Club Row building.


2. Startup office space inspiration – Break out areas, sofas and communal spaces

If you’re a London startup, most chances are that you’re renting a furnished office. Whether your office is already furnished or you’ve leased an empty space, adding some key pieces of furnishing to your space can transform the way your office looks and also the way the team works and collaborates. Most furnished office providers will give you the basic desks and chairs, but you’ll be left to source any unique pieces yourself. Any office that only consists of work stations will usually inspire a certain type of boxed thinking. By purposely allocating parts of the office as communal areas and break out spaces you’re allowing your team the opportunity to have informal meetings and creative inspiration.

The startups in our workspaces use these parts of their offices to break the monotony of the day. Sourcing comfortable designer furniture might require a large budget, so it’s worth considering second hand too. High quality designer furniture can be beyond the reach of many London startups, so we’ve decided to offer bespoke furnishing and design options with our office spaces. This is a service we provide as part of our standard office rentals, with no extra costs. We’ve got our own storage and the resources to deal with unique requests. It costs us too of course, but we’ve found the investment worthwhile as it means our clients are happy.

Canvas Offices - How to Design a Startup Office Space London - Private Office With Communal Area and Sofas

We’ve left plenty of break out space in this private Shoreditch office space. Instead of fitting more desks, the layout gives teams the options to work in different parts of their office.


Canvas Offices - How to Design a Startup Office Space London - Shoreditch High Street Breakout Area

This breakout area resembles a nice apartment of a cafe. This photo was taken in our Shoreditch High Street office spaces.


3. Startup office space inspiration – Wall Art

Creativity is a crucial part of any modern business. The line between creative companies and “non-creative” ones has been blurred in recent years. Creative thinking and problem solving is a crucial element in the development and scaling of any London startup. A recent Forbes article about creativity in business tells us that “even staid professional service industries like accounting, insurance, or law firms aren’t immune. They too, need a means of injecting creative thinking into their practices”. Creativity comes from within, but it can be encouraged with simple changes to the work environment. Art and specifically wall art in your office space can be a good way to inspire creative thinking.

Buying art doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’re based in East London, areas like Shoreditch are full of artists and galleries where you can buy affordable art that will give your office an edge. A framed photograph or painting on a wall breaks the stark emptiness. Before you start drilling in your office walls, we recommend that you check with your landlord. Many serviced office providers in London might have strict rules on what you can and cannot do in your space. We’ve found that wall art makes a huge difference to our clients so we can source and hang frames for you. It’s part of the service in all our office spaces in London.

Canvas Offices - How to Design a Startup Office Space London - Clerkenwell Office Wall Art

We added a frame, plants and a small informal breakout area to create an inviting to work in. Taken in our Clerkenwell office spaces.

Canvas Offices - How to Design a Startup Office Space London - Dalston

Breakout areas in offices, such as this private office in Dalston, allow for an informal way of working.


4. Startup office space design – Lighting and Natural light

For most companies, the ideal office space will be filled with natural light that flows in through large windows. There are some instances, if your team has many software developers or you require colour accuracy on your computer screens, you might want to have limited daylight in the space. In both instances, having well designed lighting will have an immense effect on your space and ultimately on your team. Most office spaces, especially if you’re renting a flexible or serviced office, come complete with lighting fixtures. If your office provider only supplied the basics, it’s recommended to use daylight balanced lighting for work areas with a mix with warm light, mainly in breakout areas.

According to Kenan Flagler business school “working under blue-enriched’’ light bulbs that are 17,000K actually increases work performance by supporting mental acuity, vitality and alertness while reducing fatigue and daytime sleepiness”. Designer lighting fixtures can also enhance the overall look and atmosphere of a workspace. If you’re working in London during the winter, you’re likely to be lacking in daylight. Finding an office with large windows and high-quality lighting is important. If you don’t have good lighting in your office space, consider supplementing with desk lamps and free standing lights.

Canvas Offices - How to Design a Startup Office Space London - Lighting

This private office in Clerkenwell is actually a basement. Despite this, it feels well lit and airy and a combination of good lighting and bright open space design make it very pleasant to work in.

Canvas Offices - How to Design a Startup Office Space London - Natural Light

Simple but effective use of lights enhances this office space.


About Canvas Offices

We build and rent out beautifully designed private offices in London. At the time of writing, we have 12 office buildings in Shoreditch, Old Street, Mayfair, Dalston and Clerkenwell, all of which are almost always full. We’re also opening new office spaces in Old Street, Highbury and Islington and Mayfair. Canvas offices are designed to feel like home and help increase the wellbeing of the teams who work in them. This helps the companies in our buildings with recruitment and retention. Most of the companies in our offices are startups and scale-ups. We’re proud of the amazing work they do and are glad to see them make the spaces their own. We listen and learn from them to provide the perfect office space for London startups. We hope you’ve found this article useful. If you’d like to know more please get in touch and don’t forget to subscribe below.

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At Canvas, we create homely workspaces for large & small teams. We include everything (meeting rooms too) with a simple flexible contract.
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