A well designed office space is key to creating a unified corporate identify and encouraging a productive workforce. As the focal point of any organisation, the office should effectively reflect the culture of your firm and help to attract, engage and retain staff.
Deciding on an office design
When deciding on an office design it is important to begin by appraising your company’s current and future business objectives. There is little advantage in relocating to a state-of-the-art, contemporary dream if you realise, six months down the line, that you have already outgrown it. Your design choice should therefore begin with a space and budget analysis – how long do you intend to be in the new office? What budget is available? What size will the premises need to be to house your growth forecasts?
Once you have adequately analysed your requirements, including an appraisal of meeting room, kitchen and toilet facilities, it is then time to think creatively and pragmatically. Design takes planning and you need to align how partitioning, furniture, flooring, and lighting will be used to create an overall effect. Your company’s line of business should influence design, although you should always look for something modern, creative and colourful.
Advertising firms, for example, aim to project a feeling of creative freedom in keeping with current trends and style. Parliament has an artisan, hand-constructed look, with the rustic charm of a log cabin; Microsoft has conference rooms decorated like an ocean and hunting lodge. While your budget may not allow for such extravagance, thought and detail are key here: some nice ideas combined with good quality furnishing can really change the feel of an office.
Giving your office an attractive colour scheme is a really cost-effective way of injecting some artistic flair. Colour schemes should influence the shade of paint on the walls, furniture, desks and pictures; reflecting branding and adjusted to suit trends.
Comfort and productivity and personal touch
Furniture will also help to give your office a stylistic theme and should be chosen with comfort and productivity in mind. Desks should complement the office’s design and take into account the level of interaction needed between teams. Chairs should be comfortable but also provide flexibility to move across areas.
Allowing staff to bring in personal items and decorate their workspace also brightens up the workspace and builds community within your team. You should also give them an opportunity to change the way they communicate and problem solve; encourage work discussion in your modern kitchen facilities over coffee; not everything needs to be in front of a desk, by the book.
In any given day up to 60% of desks are unmanned; equally, as mobile technology has rendered the desk less important, cash-strapped small-business owners should be more creative with their workspace design: you could provide dedicated “chill out” areas for laptop use; the mobile payments firm, Square, have “creative cubbies” designed like cosy alcoves, helping to maximise creativity and comfort.
While you may not have the budget to execute all your ideas, start small and add to your design as you grow: a creative office design will keep your employees happy and impress your customers no end.
This article has been created by George Gay, Fund Manager, Direct Property at Thames River. His portfolio of properties includes Central Reading Offices, which offer a range of flexible and high quality properties including the popular Forbury Court and Havell House.
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