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5 Ways to Optimise Your Office Design

Effective Office Design

Is your office obsolete and needs refurbishing? Perhaps your lease is expiring so you need to move office. You could even be expanding, and need to fit out a new workspace. Whatever your situation, you're considering an office design.


However, you're still unsure about the tangible performance impact of office design. You're worried that this may turn out to be an expensive, time-consuming, stressful project that ultimately has little impact on staff performance.


If so, you're not alone. Each week, we speak to companies considering an office design project, and many of them are uncertain about the real benefits that office design can bring, much less how to realise those benefits.


That's why this article will go through 5 essential ways you can optimise your office design. By the end, you'll be able to make sure your office design is as good as it can possibly be, delivering real impact for your staff and company.


Design For Working Style

Many people are excited about their office design project and keen to start planning design features and finishes. However, a successful office design has to start at a much more fundamental level: What will your people actually do while in your office? This includes both the tasks they work on and how they interact as colleagues. You can then work with your designer to create an office layout that facilitates and optimises that.


This is a crucial part of the process. Office design is much more than desks, a few meeting rooms, and a staff kitchen. To be truly effective, your workspace needs to reflect and enhance the way your people work.


If you're a law firm, you will likely need a lot of private offices to give your partners confidentiality. Collaboration space will be less important because your people are relatively independent. On the other hand, a software development company would tend to require much more open-plan layout to encourage teamwork. However your people work, you need to create a design that facilitates that.


Consider Culture

One of the most overlooked aspects of office design is the culture of the company. Often, it's only considered when you get to specifying design features and signage. However, culture needs to be considered at the earliest stages of planning your office redesign, when you're defining what's wrong with your existing space and creating a layout space plan for your new office.


As the place where your people spend most of their working day, the environment is a key part of your company culture. Culture needs to permeate every part of your office design process. This includes the concept and space plans, as well as the finishes and features.


For your office design to reflect and enhance your culture, your office design needs to represent that culture, from location to furniture. For a media company with a flat structure and informal culture, an open plan layout without private offices would be appropriate. For a more formal industry such as wealth management, a more traditional layout would be suitable. Your culture shapes your office design, and your office design shapes your culture. As a result, you need to think about the impact on and of your culture when designing your office.


Include Variety

Regardless of the working style and culture of your company, your people work in a variety of ways throughout the day, and need a variety of environments to support that. In addition, staff will work differently depending on their skillsets and teams, and you need to cater for that in your office design as well.


There are 3 main types of spaces that need to be included in every office: focussed, collaborative, and breakout. Focussed spaces are for private deep work. Suitable environments may include desks, work pods, or individual offices. Collaborative spaces are for team work, including brainstorming areas and meeting rooms. Breakout spaces are designed for staff to relax and socialise in areas such as lounges and kitchens. You may also need additional areas such as front-of-house.


How much of each type of space you need and what each space should comprise of will vary depending on your culture and working style. However, including thoughtful variety in your office design will ensure that all your people have a space that matches the way they work.


Enable Adaptability

Customisation is one of the most neglected aspects of office design, but it is crucial to an effective working environment. Regardless of how much variety you design into your workspace, it's unlikely to suit your staff all the time. While achieving that is almost impossible, you can get closer to it by designing a degree of customisation into your workspace.


Again, exactly what this looks like will be different for every company. The easiest way to enable customisation in your office is through the use of adaptable and/or modular furniture. This furniture can be easily reconfigured by your people to suit their needs. Common examples are wheeled tables and lightweight chairs in collaboration areas. You can take adaptability a step further by including movable screens, curtains or partitions in your office. These enable staff to change the size and atmosphere of a specific space. By giving your people an adaptable workspace, they can customise it to create a space that maximises their performance.


Plan for the Future

Some companies we speak to are reluctant to redesign they're office because they're concerned about an uncertain future. As a result, they don’t want to invest in an office design that may soon become obsolete. If you share this concern, that is completely understandable and valid. However, it's also important to realise that your office may well be obsolete now and will only become even more obsolete in the future.


The challenge is to create an office that meets your current needs while allowing for an uncertain future. To do this, you need to consider your company strategy and how you can use office design to help your people deliver on that in the years ahead. For example, if your company is planning significant headcount growth, you will need enough office space to allow that.


You should also consider the nature of your industry. For relatively stable industries such as law, longer-term leases are a good choice. For more volatile industries such as technology, more flexible or shorter-term leases may be a better decision. If you don’t look at your office as an expensive place for your staff to work, but rather a strategic asset to help your company deliver on its vision and goals, you can create an office design that supports that.



Improving Your Workspace

Your office can be so much more than an expensive location for your people to work from. If designed well, it can be a unique, enjoyable, effective place where your staff love to work. A place that maximises the performance of your people and consequently, the performance of your company.


To do that, your workspace has to suit and optimise the way your people work. It needs to be in line with your company culture and brand, as well as include variety and adaptability. It also has to be a space that does all this not only now, but as your workspace needs evolve throughout the years to come.


It's a lot to ask of an office design. But with a clear brief, careful planning, and expert assistance, your office can deliver all this and more. To take the next step, download your Definitive Office Design Guide. There, you'll get answers to all your most important queries about office design, before you even speak to a designer. This includes topics such as cost, impact, processes, and mistakes to avoid.


To learn more about office design and its impact on your company, read How Your Office is Harming (or Helping) Your Company's Growth and Why Office Design Really Matters.



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