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Office Design FAQ’s: Your Questions Answered

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

Office Design Questions

If you are having problems with the design of your office, you may be considering redesigning your office. However, refurbishing or relocating your office can be a big project, and you’ve probably got a lot of questions about your office design.


Every week, we speak to companies in this situation. They know their office needs improvement, but they’re not sure where to start, and they have a lot of queries. In this article, we’ll answer the most common questions we get asked by companies in this situation – from questions of cost and timeframes to whether you need to redesign your office at all. By the end, you’ll be better informed about all things office design. You’ll know what areas you need to research in more detail, and you’ll be ready to get started redesigning your office.


What Does Office Design Include?

Office design is the process of creating a comprehensive package of concepts, layouts, and schedules that can be used to update your existing office or create your new one. It’s much more than just a space plan or choosing the wall colours. It's about working out how to create the best possible office for your company and then creating a deliverable package from that. Office design is often split into two phases: concept design and detailed design.


Concept design starts with defining how your people work and what is wrong with your current office. From that, your office designer can then create a design concept that supports and improves the way your people work. They will then be able to create moodboards and visuals to give you an understanding of the look and feel of the finished design. Throughout this process, you will give feedback to your designers to ensure the design is appropriate.


Once you are happy with the concept, detailed design begins. This phase is about turning your concept into a comprehensive plan. Your design & build firm will use this to turn your vision into reality. A crucial part of this is the scope of works – a document listing all the different works to be completed, along with descriptions and quantities. If you are using a design & build company, this may also have costs included as a quotation.


A full drawing pack is necessary to lay out where every part of your scope is located in your office – not only the visible elements such as the furniture, but the invisible ones like air conditioning ducting. Finishes and furniture schedules are also used to detail the quantity and specification of every single visible element of your workspace, from decoration to lighting. At this stage, you should also get a project programme. This is a Gantt chart that details exactly what will be done when – from site preparation to snagging.


As you can see, there is a lot more to office design than meets the eye. While this might seem like an unnecessary level of complexity, comprehensive planning will ensure your project is a lot smoother and quicker during the delivery phase.


Why Does Office Design Matter?

Because office design is hard to quantify and affects a lot of complex factors, it can sometimes feel hard to define exactly why (and how much) office design matters. However, as the place where your staff spend most or all of their working lives, it has a huge impact on their performance and ability to communicate. It also affects company culture and innovation.


The most important advantage that office design can bring is an improvement in staff productivity. If your office is overcrowded and has too many desks, your people will be constantly distracted and have nowhere to work in teams, hampering their performance. On the other hand, an office that matches the way your people work will enable them to perform at their best. Research has shown that aside from indirect benefits, office design can increase staff productivity by 20% or more.


The design of your office will also impact your culture and communication, as well as how your talent attraction & retention. At an individual level, the engagement of your staff and their wellbeing will be impacted by the design of your office – either positively or negatively. To learn more about these factors and the impacts they can have, read this article.


Do I Need an Office Redesign?

You’re likely reading this article because you know you have issues with your workspace. However, you also know that office projects can require a lot of investment of both money and time. Given this, you may be asking yourself if it's worth the effort to redesign your office.


One sure signal that you need an office design is if your office is overcrowded. While you may think your only option is to relocate, this isn't necessarily the case. Most offices waste 30-40% of their footprint. A more efficient design could enable you to refurbish your office instead. If you are struggling to get your people back to the office, your office design may be part of the problem – and the answer. A new, higher-quality office space that improves staff wellbeing and performance will help attract your people back to the office.


Other issues that indicate it may be time for an office redesign include declining productivity, poor staff wellbeing, and communication challenges. To learn more about these issues and other common ones, read 7 signs you need to redesign your office.


How Much Does Office Design Cost?

“How much will this cost?” is always one of the first questions we get asked when meeting potential clients. It's often rolled into a larger question about project costs for office fit out, relocation, or refurbishment. To learn more about those, read the below articles:


Office design costs vary hugely depending on the scope of the design, the type of project, and the size of the space. As a general rule, you can expect to spend 2-4% of your overall project budget on design. For smaller projects, this will often be larger. To learn more about office design costs including cost ranges, examples, and impacting factors, read this article.


An increasingly popular office design option is paid design. Under this project process, you pay one designer company to create a comprehensive design package. Several design & build companies or contractors can quote then quote on this. Paid design reduces the duplication of pitch to win and enables a fair cost comparison. To learn more about their respective advantages and disadvantages, read Paid Design vs Pitch Design – Which is Best For Me?


How Long Does Office Design Take?

Timeframes are another regular question we get when speaking to companies about their office designs. Again, it is often rolled into the larger project timeframe question. To learn more about how long different types of projects take, read:


Again, office design timelines are very variable. They will depend a lot on the type of project, the exact scope of the design and the size of the space. Typically, a 5-10,000 sq/ft design will take 8-16 weeks. If you are reconfiguring one area of your office and using the existing design, the design phase could take as little as 3-4 weeks. If your office is very large and you require workspace consultancy, it could take 4-6 months. A lot will also depend on how detailed your initial brief for the designer is and how quickly you make decisions and give feedback.


What is the Best Office Design?

When potential clients ask us this question, they generally mean “What is the best office design style for my company”. This is important, as there is no single “best” office design style. It depends on your industry, culture, structure, size, and more. However, there is much more to the office design question than the aesthetics. First, you need to consider your layout type.


There are several common office layouts: open plan, coworking, cellular, and combination. Open plan is the most common. It is very space efficient and aids communication, but it can be distracting. Co-working office design replicates the layout of a coworking space. Cellular is what many people think of as traditional office design – most staff having their own office. While this improves focus, it hinders communication and requires a lot of office space. In reality, very few offices are any one of the above 3 styles. They use different elements of each, combined to suit the exact needs of your company.


There are several common office design styles: modern, rustic, industrial, traditional, and transitional to name but a few. To learn more about each style as well as factors to consider when making your choice, read this article. Ultimately, it's most important that your office design is built around your culture and the way your people work. This will often call for an adaption of one of the above styles, or even a combination of two.


What are Common Office Design Mistakes?

This is one office design question that often doesn’t get the attention it should – what do a lot of other companies get wrong? By learning about what people who have been in your situation would do differently if they could, you can make your project a lot cheaper, quicker, less stressful, and more successful.


By far the most common office design mistake people make is not planning enough. They are too keen to get on to the “fun part” – looking online for examples and choosing finishes. However, jumping straight to this part will almost guarantee your project is a failure, because you are ignoring crucial foundations. You should start by establishing exactly what is wrong with your space at the moment, and what your new space needs to achieve.


To learn more about the most common office design mistakes, read the Top 7 Office Design Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them). It will help you avoid costly, time-consuming issues and make sure your office design is the success you need it to be.


Got More Office Design Questions?

Now you are more informed about office design, you’re in a much better position to get started on your own office design project. As a result, you’re much better placed to avoid damaging office design mistakes and make sure your project is successful for you and your company.


If you want to know more, download the definitive guide to office design. This guide will walk you through even more questions we often get asked by companies in your situation – and includes more detailed answers. By the end of this guide, you’ll be ready to decide if you need an office redesign, and if so, where and how to begin. Download your definitive office design guide here.


You can research other workspace-related topics in more detail on our insights centre. There, we cover all things office strategy, design, fit out, relocation, and refurbishment to help ensure you know everything you need to about your office. Check out our latest articles, most popular articles, and free guides.

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