houston voices

Houston startups should take care in office design — it makes a difference

The design of your startup office matters. The lighting, the acoustics, the vicinity of rooms; every little thing plays a role. Miguel Tovar/University of Houston

If you want a work environment conducive to a nice flow of ideas, creativity, freethinking, and finding a work groove, then your startup design and workspace matter.

When it comes to a startup's office design, you want to create spaces with a purpose. You need to be certain what you want with your office's design. Moreover, you need to be certain what you want with every square foot. Yes, you have to be that detailed. Think about it. If you go into the design of your startup's office nonchalant, you'll have spaces without purpose. When you have spaces without purpose, they become susceptible to employees using them as they please. Suddenly, the open area near the creative space becomes the snacking spot. The open space by the window becomes "spot where everyone gathers to birdwatch." You get the picture. It becomes chaotic and confusing. That's why you have to make sure you know what purpose to ascribe every area of your startup.

Here are three features of startup design that help create a mood or ambiance.

Sound check

Some bigger companies hire an acoustics engineer to set decibel levels for every area and room in a workplace. They might set higher levels for a dining area where people are encouraged to interact and enjoy themselves. Lower levels will go to conference rooms and work areas. However, not every startup has a budget to bring in an acoustics engineer. But you can still apply the same principles to your startup design.

When you walk into a library or doctor's office, there's a tacit understanding that you should speak with a lower voice. You don't need an acoustics engineer to set the figurative and literal tone for what kind of behavior employees should exhibit in each area.

It is assumed, for example, that a dining area has more leeway for louder noise. So next to the dining area you can design a work area where one can assume being a little more amplified is allowed. You can have music playing in an area where people are encouraged to mingle and talk. Music is a great cue to signal that casual interaction is encouraged.

For quieter spaces, a tighter design for a room tucked away can send a signal to anyone to keep voices low. Also, if a room has an echo, people are naturally inclined to stay quieter. People tend to interpret spaces with echoes as spaces where they need to be quieter, since an echo carries voices.

Lighting

Exposing your office to natural light creates a positive mood that encourages interaction, collaboration, and an overall "lighter" tone for having a good time at work. Dimmer lighting can be used to create a sense of thoughtfulness and encourage workers in this area to brainstorm, lost in their thoughts.

Work in color

We all know by now that colors convey moods. Blue is pacifying (think Pacific Ocean), warmer colors like red and yellow encourage a more gregarious nature. Knowing what color to design each area of your startup workspace will go far in presenting the mood you wish to create.

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This article originally appeared on the University of Houston's The Big Idea.

Rene Cantu is the writer and editor at UH Division of Research.

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Building Houston

 
 

Halliburton Labs has announced the addition of three clean energy tech companies. Photo courtesy of Halliburton

Halliburton has again added a handful of energy tech startups to its Houston-based incubator.

Three companies — Matrix Sensors, Renew Power Systems, and SunGreenH2 — have joined Halliburton Labs as its newest clean energy participants.

“Companies across the energy landscape are interested in scalable innovations that improve the cost, reliability, and sustainability of energy,” says Managing Director Dale Winger in the news release. “Our tailored program combines expert support, access to a global network, and the physical resources for participants to scale. We’re excited to help these companies accelerate their market traction.”

Halliburton, a provider of energy equipment and services, launched Halliburton Labs in 2020. Last September was the incubator's last cohort addition. The next Halliburton Labs Finalists Pitch Day is Friday, January 27, at the Ion. The event will include pitches from 10 innovative, early-stage energy tech companies. Registration is open for the event.

Here are details, according to Halliburton, about the three new startups at the incubator.

Matrix Sensors

Using a new class of gas-adsorbing materials known as metal-organic frameworks to develop the world’s first quantitative gas sensor on a chip, Matrix Sensors has created a touch-free technology that enables advancements in sensor size, power, cost, and performance to address limitations of current gas sensor technologies, which require manual calibration every six months. The company is based in San Diego, California.

“With Halliburton’s global reach, we can apply our technology to some of the biggest problems facing the energy sector today, including CO2 sensors for energy efficient buildings and methane sensors for leak detection,” says Matrix Sensors CEO Steve Yamamoto in the release.

Renew Power Systems

RPSi, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a clean-tech company that develops hardware and software solutions that enable flexible and sustainable grid infrastructure. RPSi uses power electronics to connect renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar, with each other and the grid.

“Our mission is to help change the way the world generates and distributes energy,” says CEO Zach Emond in the release. “With RPSi technology, a diverse range of domestic and global communities will benefit from the acceleration of renewable energy resources that work with new and existing grid infrastructure and improve access to affordable, sustainable, and resilient electricity.”

SunGreenH2

Singapore-based SunGreenH2 builds high-performance hardware for electrolyzer cells, stacks, and systems that increase hydrogen production, decrease energy use, and reduce platinum group metals use. The company supplies hardware components for alkaline and proton-exchange membrane electrolyzers. Its modular, high-efficiency anion exchange membrane (AEM) electrolyzer stack, which is being commercialized, uses renewable power to produce low-cost green hydrogen for industries, transport, and energy storage.

“We are excited to unlock the future of green hydrogen production. With the help of Halliburton’s engineering and manufacturing expertise, we plan to commercialize and roll out our product in major international markets,” says Tulika Raj, co-founder and CEO of the company, in the release.

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