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The Top 6 Office Design Problems - And How To Avoid Them

Updated: Apr 25

Problems with Office Design

Are your staff complaining about your office? Perhaps they’re reluctant to come into the office at all? If so, ttheirhen you’re likely suffering from some of the most common office design issues. Despite offices having such a big impact on the performance of staff and companies, many offices have several serious issues. As a result, the productivity, engagement, and collaboration of thier staff are limited.


We’ve been designing and building workspaces across the UK since 2008. Every week, we speak to companies that are conscious that their offices are not good enough, but aren’t sure why that is, or how to fix it. In this article, we’ll go through the 6 most common office design issues we see when surveying offices, and how to fix them. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to survey your office to see if you have any of these problems. If you do, you’ll also know how to go about fixing them.


If you know your office design needs improvement, but you’re not sure where to start, download our Definitive Office Design Guide. It will teach you all you need to know about office design before you reach out to a design & build company, including processes, costs, timeframes, and mistakes to avoid.


1) Variety

One of the reasons many staff are resisting going back to the office is the lack of variety. If all the office has is rows of desks, why would staff commute when they can have that at home without the hassle and expense of travel? If they are supposed to come into the office to collaborate, they need an office designed for collaboration, not focussed work.


The solution is to gain feedback from both staff and managers about how they work at the moment, as well as what types of spaces would make them more effective. You can then build that into an effective office design that matches the way your staff work. You may need to reconfigure your office to facilitate this.


2) Space Utilisation

Despite real estate being one of the biggest overheads companies face, most companies have 40% more real estate than they need. A lot of this is due to a poor office design that wastes space. As a result, you pay much more in lease and operating costs than you need to.


If you think space utilisation may be a problem in your office, you should consider workspace consultancy. Through staff surveys and occupancy tracking, a workspace usage report will show how your staff are using the space, and what areas are under (or over) utilised. A workspace consultant can then make recommendations on how your space could be made more efficient.


3) Branding

Many office managers think office branding is a company logo in the reception and a few walls in the brand colours. Branding in your office goes much further than that. Includes the entire experience staff have while in the space, from the location of the office itself to the quality of the coffee. If your office provides a brandless, generic experience, then you may struggle to attract & retain talent.


To remedy this problem, your office needs to be tailored to your culture. This means creating an office that is the living embodiment of your company’s purpose, values, and vision. To learn more about creating a workspace tailored to your culture, read this article.


4) Compliance

Many offices we survey are not compliant. This is because most companies are unaware of the regulations around fire safety, disabled access, and so on. In many offices we visit, small works have been carried out by contractors who have not made sure their designs are legal.


To ensure your offices are compliant, you will need to speak to a building regulations consultant or a qualified office fit-out company. There are regulations covering everything from the width of corridors to the fire-rating of ceilings. By engaging professionals at an early stage, you will be able to ensure your designs are compliant. This will eliminate the need for expensive changes at a later stage.


5) Acoustics

A noisy, distracting environment is one of the most common office design complaints. However, distractions are not an inherent drawback of open-plan design – it is the result of poor space planning and acoustic design. Poor acoustics is a serious problem in your office. Over time, this can lead to serious frustrations amongst your team, which damages their wellbeing and performance even further.


The good news is that you don’t have to completely refurbish your office to improve the acoustics. By installing acoustic baffles or ceiling rafts, you can reduce the background noise in your office and add a design feature at the same time. To learn more about reducing office noise pollution, read this article.


6) Biophilia

A lack of biophilia is a very common problem we encounter in office designs across the country. While people may think of biophilia as a few plants around the office and succulents on desks, biophilia is much more than that. It encompasses all the natural elements, finishes, and designs within an office. Biophilic design can improve staff productivity by up to 14%.


Biophilia is another area that doesn’t always require a full-scale project to bring it up to standard. Distributing plants throughout the space is a great start. They will improve air quality and provide a refreshing design element, boosting the performance of your staff.


Fixing Your Office Design Problems

Offices have a major impact on the performance of staff. However, over half of office-based workers feel uninspired by their workplace and its office design. This means that over half of offices have serious office design issues. Here, we’ve gone through 6 of the most common office design issues. We find that most offices we survey have at least 3 of these issues. Of course, your office may have other design problems which are equally damaging to the performance of your people and company.


You now know about the most common office design issues and how they can be fixed. It’s time for you to speak to your staff, survey your office, and see if you have any of these issues. If so, you’ll know how to get started fixing them.


If you know your office design needs improvement, but you’re not sure where to start, download our Definitive Office Design Guide. It will teach you all you need to know about office design before you reach out to a design & build company, including processes, costs, timeframes, and mistakes to avoid. Once you’ve read it, you’ll be ready to decide if you need an office redesign, and if so, where and how to begin. Download it here.

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