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Working With an Office Designer: 10 Things You Should Know

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Office Design

Are you preparing for your next office design project? Are you considering moving office, or redesigning your existing space? If so, you’re about to start a big project with significant consequences for your company.

Working with an experienced and understanding designer is absolutely crucial to develop a design that meets your needs. Appointing an appropriate office designer is a key part of your project. Working with them effectively to get the best design possible for you is also essential.

At Zentura, we regularly speak to companies who are preparing for an office fit out project. Many are unsure who to appoint to design their project, let alone how to get the best out of them. As an office fit out company, we have extensive experience with both the design-build and the design-bid-build project models. In this article, we’ll talk you through 10 things you should know about working with an office designer. These apply equally whether you are working with a specialist designer or a design & build firm.

Brand Identity is Crucial

Making sure your office design reflects and enhances your culture is absolutely essential. By creating an office that brings your brand to life, your people can perform far better. You will have a detailed understanding of your company's values, culture, and brand. However, your designer is probably new to your company and won’t have the same understanding. Allowing them to spend time with you and your staff will enable them to get a better feel for the culture and needs of your company. As a result, they will be able to produce a design that matches your brand identity.

Functionality is Key

Your office space is probably the second highest overhead of your company – right after staff costs. Given that your office space is so expensive, it’s essential that your office design maximises the performance of your people.

It may be tempting for you and your designer to jump in and start discussing design concepts and features. However, this will probably lead to a poor design. You need to start with what the purpose of your office is, and what it needs to achieve for your company. You then need to define your workflow and the types of spaces you need. Only then can you start discussing design features.

Communication is Essential

The most common issue that leads to an inappropriate design is poor communication between the client and the designer. You need to fully communicate what you need your workspace to achieve and your key criteria. If you don't, then your designer will have to make assumptions, which may be incorrect. If the designer does not communicate with you, then you will not be able to give feedback and improve the design.

To avoid this, you first need carefully plan your project and create a detailed design brief. You then need to set a clear deliverables and communications plan with your designer. This will define when the draft and final designs will be delivered, as well as what they will communicate and when. This will enable you to give effective feedback.

Budget is Important

While the importance of the upfront cost of an office project is often overestimated, it is an undeniably important part of your project. While you may not know exactly what your budget is before the design starts, it's important you give a rough budget to your designer. They will then know what kinds of features and specifications are appropriate for you.

If you are working with a design and build firm, they will be able to provide approximate costings with initial designs and then a fully detailed quote for the final designs. If you are working with a specialist designer, you will have to issue go through a tender process to cost your project.

Sustainability is Vital

It's easy to forget about sustainability so early in your overall project. However, sustainability needs to be considered early on if it is to be an effective part of your office design. Your designer should be able to recommend sustainable materials to reduce your carbon footprint. To maximise sustainability your designer should also consider how your office design can be delivered with the least possible environmental impact.

Layout is Critical

While many people think of office design as choosing paint colours and sofas, there is far more to it than that. Effective office design covers everything from the workflows and types of spaces to the design concept and finishes. The layout is one of the most important elements of a great office design.

Working with your designer to make sure you get the right variety of spaces included in your design is critical. You will have a better understanding than your designer of the kind of tasks your people are working on. As a result, you need to work with your designer to ensure that you create a space that matches the way your people work.

Furniture Matters

The importance of furniture is often overlooked in office design. However, as the element of your workspace that your people interact with the most, it’s a central part of your office design. In the age of hybrid and collaborative offices, there is much more to furniture selection than desks and chairs.

You will have a good understanding of the way your people work. Your office designer will have a better understanding of the different types of office furniture available and how they can make your people more effective. Consequently, you’ll need to work together to create a furniture package that maximises the performance of your people.

Technology is Important

In the modern office, there is much more to technology than desktops and TV screens. Workspace technology now includes hybrid meeting suites, access control, and resource booking. However, it’s important your office design only includes technology that helps your people do their jobs more effectively.

We recommend you work closely with your office designer to consider exactly how your people work and how workspace technology can make them more effective. That way, you’ll avoid wasting money on expensive, unnecessary gimmicks in your office.

Lighting is Key

While it might seem a relatively minor consideration to be thinking about so early in the design process, lighting plays an absolutely crucial role in the wellbeing and productivity of your people. Natural light is the best form of lighting, creating significant wellbeing and performance benefits.

You’ll need to work with your designer to maximise the natural light available when planning your layout. We also recommend you prioritise high-quality lighting, as while this is an easy area to reduce the specification, poor-quality lighting will reduce the productivity of your people.

Good Design Takes Time

The final important thing to know about working with your office designer is that good office design takes time. While it may be tempting to rush the design phase or start by choosing design features you like, it's important to lay the foundations for a good design with careful planning.

It's also important to allow your designer time to iterate the design based on your feedback. Design is very subjective, and there are a lot of variables, so it’s unlikely you’ll be happy with the first design. By allowing the time to give your designer feedback on several versions of the design, you will ensure that your final design is as good as possible.

Working with Your Office Designer

An office design is an exciting opportunity to improve wellbeing, productivity, and collaboration amongst your staff. To maximise these opportunities, working with an experienced and understanding office designer is absolutely essential. They can create a functional, on-brand, sustainable office that maximises the performance of your people.

By keeping these 10 considerations in mind when working with your office designer, you’ll ensure your design is the best it can possibly be for your company. As a result, your project will be much more successful.

To learn more about making your office redesign successful, check out our top 6 office design tips, including both evergreen and on-trend ideas, to help keep you on track during your next office design project.

If you’re ready to reach out for help with your office design, we’d love to hear from you. We design agile workspaces around the people that use them, to enable them to become more efficient, productive and to increase wellbeing. Whether you are looking to implement agile workspace design as you move toward hybrid working, or you are moving to a hub-and-spoke model, we can design and deliver high-performance workspaces for your future. Contact us today.



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