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Creative office design on a budget

What would you think if you were called average? My guess is that if you are like most of us, you might be repulsed by the thought. I would imagine that a large percentage of people, at least in their minds, see themselves as special or above-average. Average just seems so…well…boring. Conversely, I would also guess that a certain percentage of us wouldn’t really care one way or the other.

Successful businesses don’t do average

I’ll say one thing for sure: if you want to run a successful business, being average just doesn’t cut it anymore. As businesspeople, we must continually demonstrate separation from the next competitor in order to survive in a rapidly-changing world. Otherwise, there’s no real reason for customers to come to us, is there?

The majority of systems and products are currently designed to keep people average. Anyone who has lived within the past century or so has been unavoidably impacted by the Industrial Revolution. In order for companies to sell an enormous quantity of anything, it needs to be a certain, size, color, and price in order to fit the mold for the average person.

The marketplace promotes average

Henry Ford spotted a gap in the market for a mass-produced car that the average person could afford. The Model T was launched in 1908, and sold for nearly 20 years, in the same color: black. Ford’s philosophy was twofold: he found a way to improve upon the automobile, and to sell it for less. The concept of mass-production has been the foundation of almost every industry on the planet since. The overriding theme? To find ways to make products available to average people.

Somewhere along the line, we connected the dots and decided that average was better—either because we believed it could offer a lower price than the alternative, or because it was more available—take your pick. For the most part, Americans now shop at the same stores, buy the same stuff, and wear the same clothes. We pretty much do what manufacturers tell us to do. The only major line of distinction is price.

Changing a company from average

It’s no longer a surprise to walk into company after company, only to discover that each one looks, feels, and smells just like the one next door. How can you change that? The trick, first and foremost, is to find ways to let your personality and company culture shine through in the details. This requires thought, planning, and creativity. Here are some quick pointers:

Before you begin any design project, you first need to know what the problems are. You can then conceptualize ways to incorporate as many reasonable solutions into the design as possible, while still keeping sight of your budget.

Living example

Here’s an example. We recently got called into a local higher-education facility to consult, design, and manufacture furniture for their classrooms. Here are the challenges we discovered:

  • They had a reasonably low budget.
  • They wanted a very modern, cool, Google-esque look to their classroom (style).
  • They wanted to maximize the number of students they could fit into each classroom without crowding (ROI).
  • Each student needed to have their own computer, but it could not be bolted onto the desktop, because this would obstruct visibility with the monitor in use (function).
  • The computers could not be placed on the floor, for fear they would become damaged or disappear (security).
  • Each student needed a comfortable amount of workspace.
  • Each workplace needed to be powered (technology).
  • Each station needed to have modesty panel protection for female students (practicality).

The challenges were clear. We designed and manufactured cool, modern, custom desks in a black and white design using cost-effective materials. The desks were shared by two/three students, with a designed compartment underneath for computers that would also separate the students. The size was balanced between maximum room dimensions and maximum student/use requirements.

As illustrated in the case above, it is usually impossible to get the best fit, color, function, and style for your workplace by “thinking average.” Because they were willing to think inside a bigger box, the school was able to get everything they wanted—plus an allowance for six more students per class. WOW! What ROI!

Your office doesn’t have to cost a lot to be above average, just creative

Common wood pallets arranged and used effectively changed this office from bland to unique.

Effective use of common ordinary cardboard and white laminate changed this lunchroom from boring to spectacular.  

I could certainly say more to help you customize your office and make it even more spectacular—but that is a conversation for forthcoming reports.


Little ideas like these can separate your company from the average, in function, style, fit, organization, and yes—even profits.

The best part of advance creation of a spectacular workplace profile is the ease with which you can go back and look at your problem areas, tweaking issues as they arise. As you begin noticing areas of possible concern, you can continue to refine details until you have the perfect solution. It’s that simple.

Imagine how spectacular your workplace could be with more information and better tools. The possibilities are infinite!  

What about you?  Would you like more ideas about how you can gain traction away from the average business environment?
CALL NOW 855-699-0334!

office furniture relocationOverspending and Business Moves

If you are moving your business and you’ve got cash to burn, what I am about to share with you will mean absolutely nothing at all. Business relocation is the perfect accelerant to burn through your budget. In fact, moving your business is going to cost you in more ways than most people will ever know. For this reason, if you are not well-prepared, you will quickly burn through your budget in one way or another. If you are like most people moving their businesses, vendor screw-ups, errors in judgment, do-overs, damages, delayed openings, and poor office design are going to suck your budget dry. These things alone will probably rattle your chains.

Two Essential Business Relocation Priorities: Cost and Speed

From experience, I can tell you that most decision-makers I’ve met have two major priorities in mind when it comes to business relocation: 1) minimizing costs, and 2) speed of getting through the office-moving process. What they fail to realize is that the two are joined at the hip. Trying to minimize too many costs often acts as the culprit in eventually costing more—particularly when one does not have the expertise in that specific area to make the best choices. Also, speeding through the process without a qualified plan or significant experience will inevitably cost you more in mistakes—either now or in the future.

Decision-Makers Burn Cash through Not Knowing

Reviewing the before, during, and after of self-prepared business relocation plans, I would be hard-pressed to recall any that have nailed the best, most cost- effective plan for their business without coaching. Mistakes can occur on all sides of the business transfer: challenges with disgruntled employees because they were not properly nurtured, expensive plans for disposal of furniture and materials left behind, bad vendor selection, and poor space-planning and office furniture selection. It’s all money going up in flames.

In the interest of saving money, the business owner may attempt to navigate the office relocation himself or herself, or transfer the responsibility to a trusted employee. While that person may be great at their usual job, without relocation experience, they will make judgment calls based upon what seems reasonable—and/or whatever information is gleaned from research. Here is an example of what I mean…

How You Can Burn Cash through Lack of Information

Recently, a company came to us wishing to open a U.S. version of their European company. They submitted plans to us prepared by a local office-furniture reseller. 

office floor plan

After reviewing the plans, we had some questions:

Are you planning to add more people to your team in the future?
Answer: Yes
How will you handle that when the time comes?
Answer: We’ll take more space on another floor.
Your current floor plan leaves you with almost 8’ aisles. Would it save you more money if you had a floor plan with smaller aisles and more office furniture flexibility for future growth?
Answer: You’re right; I never thought about that.
Your current floor plan shows all of your furniture groupings as islands, which means having ugly power poles hanging all over your workplace that will cost you more money to buy and install than wall-based ones. Would it be better (if you wanted to use this plan) to move the stations to the wall, allowing room for more stations in the future, cutting your power costs, and promoting a more attractive appearance?
Answer: Yes; but we have glass against some of the walls, and we can't put power on the glass.
What if we could show you a custom furniture solution that makes the glass more attractive, offering you power and data sources from those glass walls without being blatantly visible? Would that save you money, increase your ROI, and make your space more pleasing—all in the same package?
Answer: Yes; I never thought about that. Great idea.
Also, I see that you have planned 30”-deep work surfaces. Are your people working with charts, graphs, or documents that require greater depth and additional cost?
Answer: No; that’s the way we have always done it.
Would it make more sense to have a smaller depth and free up more space in your plan to increase budgetary dollars?
Answer: Great idea; never really thought about doing it that way.
What if I could show you how to design your space to present a much cooler, more modern and customized floor plan rather than the typical bowling-alley design? Would your workers find that more appealing?
Answer: Well, we are mindful of cost with this project. The other company promised us X.
What if I told you that our price structure is lower than most resellers because we custom-manufacture your furniture to your fit without dealer markups, which means you will pay less?  How does that grab you?
Answer: Sounds great.

This was an actual, redacted conversation we had with a client.

Names have been purposely removed. The plans, however, are factual. What this client found out was how to manage their new workspace to obtain more cost-effective results—both now and in the future. Although their intentions were great, these particular mistakes would have cost them tens of thousands of dollars.

Separately, this client was told that the power system from a cubicle system left on the premises by the last client could be removed and utilized externally in their new furniture. What they did not know was that most internal power systems are not UL-approved for external use. A mistake like this is nothing more than a liability waiting to happen. In fact, in most similar cases, decision-makers don’t even know how much extra money they will be spending.

Save Cash by Being Well-Informed

The purpose of this exchange is not to impress you, but rather to impress upon you that without proper guidance, your primary intention to minimize spending and speed up the moving process can often cost significantly more in the long run. I could probably go on giving you cost-saving examples forever. Don’t take my word for it, though; read what Harvard Business Review has to say…

"Recognize office space as not just an amortized asset but a strategic tool for growth. The consulting and design firm Strategy Plus estimates that office utilization peaks at 42% on any given day. By that logic, the best way to manage cost per square foot is to remove “wasted” square feet. But the data we’re generating reveal that investments in re-engineering space for interactions over efficiency can increase sales or new-product launches."   Harvard Business Review, October 2014

At 90 Degree Office Concepts, we are totally on board with these findings—as a result of our own company research and our examination of reports and case studies generated by office project analysts. For this reason, we have created a company that designs and manufactures custom office furniture to fit your space and your way of doing business, rather than the standard one-size-fits-all. We realize that the cost of your real estate space far exceeds what you spend on office furniture, so getting the right fit gives you a crucial, highly effective strategy for not burning through all of your cash.

Need Some Ideas?

Get some free plan and design coaching!

Call 855-699-0334

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The company was very effecient and Bernie Fairchild is very great at meeting customers needs. I called about partions and he helped me make a decision to best feed the need of our company. I recommend this to anyone who is looking to get office furniture this is the place. The main reason I chose...

Ricardo Llorente
Jan 25, 2016