Top 10 Countdown of Things a Start-Up Company Should Not do Without (A humorous look at our all too often serious offices)

10. Big Screen TV – I have no freaking idea why the first thing that every startup buys is a big screen Samsung 55” TV, but its kind of a thing. Video games, Olympics, Hockey, World cup and the occasional video-conference, I’m hoping someone enlightens me on my deathbed.

9. Plants – These things provide atmosphere, both literally and figuratively. They are a familiar object that you can rest your computer-fogged eyes on and gain a sense of relaxation. From desktop units to floor models, a plant invites you to mentally unwind without leaving the confines of your space. PS – they also function somewhat as pets, only with slightly less maintenance.

8. Recycling Area – This is a big thing with me, there, I said it. We live in a world that can’t take much more abuse and separating your cans, glass, plastic and paper seems like such a small way to try and give back. It can be as simple as a couple of boxes with proper markings on them. Keep your glass separate and your mixed in the other, your ratio should be 1:1 for mixed and regular garbage. Anything more on the mixed recycling side and you are a SUPERSTAR!

7. Games – We all know that startups are hard. They require intense focus, long hours and stress, lots of stress. Putting some sort of gaming activity in your office will reap many benefits, exercise is great for boosting brain cells, coordination, and requisite co-worker ribbing. Depending on your space constrictions I would rate them thusly:

Ping Pong table

Foosball table

Pogo Stick


I also recommend an engineer gets up at least once an hour for 10 minutes, but to each their own.

 6. Keg or beer fridge – I’m sure I’ll get some flack for this but I truly believe beer to be an office staple; much like coffee but that’s a different bullet point. In my 30+ years as an Office Manager/EA I’ve found that standing around enjoying a malt-based beverage in the company of your peers opens more doors than closes them. Socializing while sharing a beer is one of the more civilized ways to end the day with a new co-worker or your boss. In the event of a larger social gathering I do provide non-alcoholic beverages for visitors. We also stock the office with flavored sparkling seltzers, and milk, so get off me.

5. Bike Racks – Portland is the No. 1# bike commuter city on the West Coast. Also, there’s that ‘it’s good for Mother Nature’ thing. Seriously though, bike racks come in as many shapes/configurations as there are bikers, so you should be sure to find something that suits your space. Get a black rug to put underneath them and possibly a runner for the space to the rack – they can get pretty grungy during the winter months.

4. Couch – Often looked upon as a non-necessity, this unit can function as a impromptu meeting area for three or less people (or possibly more if you’ve worked together for a while), wool-gathering (creative replenishment) space, visiting employee seating area, exercise bench and last but not least, napping space.   You don’t need anything fancy, but buy the best you can afford, its going to be around for a long, long time and your employees will get very, very attached to it. Emotionally. For reals.

3. Snacks – I make it a point to stock the following in every company I serve: Protein related items for that last code push that has to be done tonight – (think: String cheese, Clif bars, yoghurt in fat & nonfat forms, various nuts and occasionally jerky). Breakfast cereals for when people forget to eat. (Plus it’s a secret homage to Jerry Seinfeld). Potato chips in varying flavors for salty goodness. And, fresh fruit, organic if you can swing it financially but oranges and apples are great no matter what. Anecdotal item: I also used to stock a large jar of frosted animal cookies at my last gig but the employees would drop them on the carpet making a nasty mess and so I removed them the list. There were ransom notes and a small riot. It still haunts me to this very day.

2. Desks – I could go on and on about this subject but I’ll keep it short. IKEA is the bomb, a nice 30 x 60 top with four legs will see you through many a project. HOWEVER, you should plan for a standup space where employees can take their laptops and stand for a bit. New Relic has Standtopia, Simple has built-ins, it’s healthy, it’s a fact – do it. I can put you in touch with a very nice company in Arizona that will sell you a crank standup base for a mere $480 dollars if you want to splurge and outfit your crew with their very own adjustables, slap an IKEA top on that baby and BOOM! happy ergonomically-balanced employee. DM me on Twitter, it’s OK, I promise.

And the #1 thing you cannot live without:

1. Coffee – This is the lifeblood of your company, choose wisely. Luckily here in Portland we have many options, dark roast, breakfast roast, organic coffee, vegan coffee, not too mention the means of extracting said brew from the bean itself. A startup needs lots of this juice and I recommend a Capresso grinder and a Bunn 10-cup high velocity brewer drip system with a thermal pot and a Chemex. I also recommend Happy Cup Buzz, it’s a great coffee bean and supports a great organization AND they’re local. This should cover all your caffeine needs, from group to nuts.

And there you have it, armed with this list you can rest assured you have all the necessary tools to start rocking it at the office!

This message brought to you by iBarbStark*, Office Manager of Cozy Services Ltd.

*I ain’t no Rick Turoczy but I ain’t chopped liver, either.


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