Culture-Based Office Design
Do you need to improve your employee engagement? Are you struggling to get staff back to the office? Is retaining staff difficult? If so, then improving your office may be (part of) the answer. However, “improving your office” is not enough. You need to create a unique workspace that embodies your company’s purpose and values. A space that reflects and enhances your culture. It needs to be a place that is designed to optimise the way your staff work, as well as a place they find inspiring.
But how do you create a space like this? We all know that culture is crucial to company success, but measuring and improving it is very difficult. However, creating a unique and inspiring environment for your staff is something you can’t afford not to do. A great workspace has a huge impact on staff and company performance.
In this article, we’ll explain how you can ensure your office design is tailored to your culture through every step of the office design process. By the end of this article, you’ll know how to work with your design & build company to create a workspace design tailored to your culture.
The first step toward creating an office tailored to your culture is creating a comprehensive office fit out brief. This will give your design & build company a comprehensive understanding of your needs. As a result, they will be able to create a project package that suits your constraints and is tailored to your culture.
A project brief contains 3 key elements. These are workspace strategy, project objectives, and project information. Your workspace strategy details your working model, how your people work, and the role your office plays in company performance. Project objectives distill the strategy into 3-5 key deliverables for your upcoming project. Finally, information comprises all the background information your fit out company will need to be able to design & quote. To learn more about what needs to go into your project brief and how to collate it, read this article.
Depending on your process, you may work with one appointed designer or several design & build firms. Once you have met with them and gone through your brief, their next step will be some form of a design workshop. This involves their design team working with you to answer the question: if we created a workspace that perfectly embodied our company and our people, what would it look and feel like? This includes whether your people use the space full-time or part-time, what they do while in the space, and what size teams they work in.
From this, your designer can then create an initial design concept. This is a big idea that will drive the whole design. It includes how the space will be used, the environments it will contain, and the design style. Depending on your design, the concept will include reference images, sketches, moodboards, and material palettes. While nothing is definite at this stage, this concept will give you a good understanding of what the final design will look and feel like, and how it will fulfill your brief.
When the design concept is complete, the next step is space planning. Space planning is the process of laying out all the necessary areas and features of your office and optimising their arrangement to suit the space. This includes allocating space to different teams and environments, as well as deciding exactly what will go in those spaces, in terms of features and finishes. The final result of this phase is a space plan – a layout drawing that shows you a plan view of what your finished office will look like. Your designer may even create multiple options for you to choose from.
While it may seem like the layout is purely a matter of efficiency, it’s absolutely crucial that your space plan reflects your brand. The spaces you have within your office and how they are laid out will have a huge impact on the user experience, so they need to suit your culture. For example, if you value open communication and innovation, then an open-plan office with plenty of collaboration space would be suitable.
Furniture & Finishes
The next phase of your office design is specifying the furniture, finishes, and equipment (FF&E). In this phase, your design & build company will specify all the visible materials throughout your office. Furniture includes desks, chairs, collaboration furniture, and breakout furniture. Finishes include all the visible fixed elements in your space, such as carpet, vinyl, ceilings, and wall finishes. Equipment includes all the workspace technology in your space, such as hybrid A/V suites, and access control.
As this phase of design decides almost all of what you see around your office, ensuring it is tailored to your culture is absolutely essential. It goes much further than just decorating a few walls in the brand colours. The type and style of furniture will have a major impact, as will all the flooring, wall finishes, and upholstery. It all builds into the atmosphere of your office, so you need to ensure that it reflects and enhances your culture. This doesn’t mean it has to be in your brand colours, but it does have to suit the purpose of your workspace.
Once the FF&E package has been specified, your design & build company will probably formally present the developed design package to your company, for approval or amendment. The developed design includes all the design work carried out up to this point, including the concept, space plan and FF&E package. This package may also contain computer-generated images of what your finished office will look like.
When you are happy with the developed design, your fit out company will complete the detailed design phase. This involves creating detailed project costings and adding the necessary detail to be able to deliver the fit out or refurbishment. Throughout, it’s important to ensure the design remains on brand and is not sacrificed to save time or cost.
Making Your Workspace Tailored to Your Culture
Ensuring your office design is tailored to your culture is crucial. Otherwise, it will not improve your staff performance, regardless of how amazing it looks. It needs to suit and improve how your people work, as well as having a unique atmosphere that matches your culture and inspires your people.
The rewards for creating such an office are huge. It will help you attract your staff back to the office, increase their engagement, improve their productivity, and make them stay at your company longer. As a result, your project will have an excellent return on investment.
Reading this article, you’ve learned how you can work with your chosen design & build company to ensure your office design is tailored to your culture. Now, you’re ready to create your office fit out brief and get started on your office design journey.
To learn all you need to know about office design, download your Definitive Guide to Office Design. There, you’ll learn everything you need to know about your office design before you speak to a designer, including what is involved, why it matters, what it costs, and much more. Download your Office Design Guide here.