In the new Steelcase 360 Magazine entitled “Think Better” there’s an article called, “Igniting a Sense of Start-up Culture”. We all understand that startups have an authenticity that is built from determination, passion and ingenuity – the struggle to make something out of nothing. But what if a more “mature” company wants to incite some of these characteristics in their culture. Can it be done?

In the words of the article’s author, “what happens when larger leading organizations want to activate more grit, authenticity and passion in their environments? How do “intrapreneurs,” the innovative team leaders and space-creators in big businesses, reconnect with that startup mindset without getting weighed down by the sheer scale of a large enterprise?”


In exploring this question three tips emerged that might help entrepreneurs, people in real estate, space creators in larger organizations, facilities managers, incubators and disruptive thinkers to ignite—or reclaim—a sense of “startup culture” in the workplace.

TIP #1:  

Push the envelope with materiality and choose progressive finishes to create an energetic vibe or a warm, residential feel with commercial-grade quality. Embrace a DIY spirit by adding unique statement pieces into your space that reflect your inner-artist and put your passions on display.

“People are trying to express themselves. To create an identity. To define a brand. And it manifests itself in the space and the collection of objects they curate.”

Tom Polucci
Director, Interior Design, HOK

TIP #2:  

Support the intrapreneurs in your ecosystem by giving them a space devoted to unleashed creativity and true freedom to innovate. If possible, physically move intrapreneurs away to help activate a new sense of startup culture. Champion their disruptions as vehicles that will move you toward a stronger, more relevant company.

“Intrapreneurs communicate their new ideas with flip charts, post-it notes and drawings. You need a space that supports this kind of interaction. You need a space to showcase all these things so the innovators can tell the story of how their ideas will come to be.”

Enrique Godreau III
Senior Vice President, Development, UPGlobal
A non-profit dedicated to strengthening communities by spurring grassroots leadership and entrepreneurship

TIP #3:

Add lounge spaces and standing-height elements to to complement ergonomic seating. Send the message that you trust and support your team to choose the places and postures that best encourage productivity and focus for them. Intentionally design other spaces that promote quiet, collaboration and fun, so that people can truly love the way they work.

“The most popular areas are the cafés, which are more like casual bistros with lounge areas. When it comes to ideation and teams working together, casual gathering opportunities are more powerful and more effective.”

Benjamin Dyett
Co-Founder, Grind
A Chicago and NYC-based coworking facility dedicated to creating “frictionless” work experiences

AUTHORED BY: Petra Geiger
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