A good interior design companywill guide you through the options and help ensure the design you want is coherent with your company culture and brand values and that it will work for your employees.
If the infrastructure in the building can’t support the redesign, it won’t support your employees to do their jobs properly. One survey reported that 85% of employees believe they could do their job better with the right technology and another suggested only 13% have access to tablet devices at work — tools that are vital for flexible working.
For a successful office redesign that embraces activity-based working, the appropriate technology needs to be included in the design.
Technology can actually enhance an office’s interior with wireless charging pads, integrated touchscreens, audio-visual solutions, cable management and in-desk power solutions all working to make the office look sleek and provide practical power solutions.
Communication with your employees is the key to a successful office redesign, as leaving employees in the dark about what’s happening with their workplace will soon lead to disengagement or resentment.
You may want to create a stimulating working environment, with ‘fun’ features such as a slide, fully open workplaces or walls covered in loud primary colours. However, if your team just want somewhere quiet to work, then all these bells and whistles are likely to go unused or, worse, end up creating resentment in your team.
Before you begin your redesign project, speak to your team and ask them what they want, whether this is something as simple as a survey or asking them to draw their ideal office. Incorporating everything that everyone wants will be impossible of course, but employees will appreciate being given the opportunity to contribute.
How office design relates to company culture
The link between an organisation’s workspace and its culture has been widely researched, with reports claiming the design and layout of an office has the power to reflect, support, influence and even change the values and principles of the company that occupies it.
‘Types’ of culture
How does this work? A recent white paper suggests there are four types of office culture, and these can be nurtured by different design and layout solutions:
a “collaborate” culture — best cultivated by a flexible, fairly open space with informal and group areas
a “create” culture — also best supported by a flexible environment with an organic layout, informal group areas and few enclosed spaces
a “control” culture — works well with a high ratio of individual-to-group space, a structured, symmetrical layout and more formal spaces with a higher level of enclosure
a “compete” culture — best nurtured by a mixture of formal and informal spaces, low to medium levels of enclosure and a medium ratio of individual-to-group spaces; also, a structured, symmetrical layout
Avoid cultural clashes
It may come as a surprise to learn that, in spite of the ongoingtrend for open plan workspaces, a degree of enclosure and a structured layout is beneficial to culture in certain types of organisation. Of course, it is possible for a blend of different culture ‘types’ to operate within the same company; in fact, it’s highly likely that the culture of a marketing team, for instance, will differ from accounts or IT.
In order to achieve an effective office design plan that allows all departments and individuals to thrive in their work, it’s vital to understand what type of subcultures exist within the wider culture of your business. It’s unlikely that one workspace design will support every part of your organisation.
Identify your identity
Equally, although looking to office designs of other organisations can be helpful in terms of getting general inspiration for your own workplace, it can be all too easy to fall into the “we want an office like Google’s” trap. Although it might be appealing to create a funky environment with game rooms and modern furniture, in reality, if your organisation’s culture isn’t the same as Google’s then using the same design ideas is unlikely to work.
A far more realistic aim is to create a workplace that encapsulates the vision and values of your company. Office design specialists are there to help you achieve this, but there are a few considerations that can aid you along the way.
Top 5 design features
Lighting plays an important part of any design concept, and not purely for aesthetic reasons. It can have an impact on:
health and wellbeing
Traditional office lighting — particularly fluorescent tubes — has a reputation for being cheap and providing poor-quality, artificial light. However, companies are beginning to realise that investing in high-quality lighting and — crucially — maximising natural light in the workplace wherever possible makes for a happier, more productive workforce.
When decorating a workspace, colour choice should not be arbitrary; nor should it be limited to the company’s branding. The impact that different colours can have on people’s state of mind is well documented, so it makes sense to capitalise on this in the working environment.
Of course, considering employee health and wellbeing when designing workspaces will naturally include individual elements like lighting, colour and furniture; but it also warrants separate attention. For example, research we carried out suggested that having a purpose-built space within the workplace to relax in is important to one in five people.
Bringing nature into the office can be a simple but effective measure to counteract the effects of work-related stress. Biowalls, for example — a recent trend that introduces walls of vegetation to the office space — can have a positive impact on staff wellbeing by improving air quality, diminishing excessive noise and bringing a sense of calm to the office.
Showing your staff that their health and wellbeing is a priority when it comes to creating office design and layout plans — by listening to their needs and working preferences — is key to maintaining a happy and healthy organisational culture.
Office furniture has evolved hugely in recent years and companies are realising the benefits of investing in high-quality pieces that offer flexibility, durability and ergonomic support. Renowned furniture design company Herman Miller has developed a range of flexible furniture that can be configured and adjusted in line with a company’s requirements. This modular approach, which includes the option to erect partitions to enhance privacy for individual or small group work, gives staff members the flexibility to work at each other’s desks if required.
Getting the design and layout of your workspace right is no easy task, and one that you should not try to tackle without support from an experienced fit-out partner.
At Dale, we have expertise in many industries and sectors, as well as taking the time to get to know our clients’ specific businesses and cultures. We also offer insight into the future of work practices and environments, which helps to inform key decisions around layout and furniture, for example.
And when we worked with Go Outdoors, the Sheffield-based outdoor lifestyle retailer, its priority was to improve its kitchen and WC facilities to suit the needs of an expanding team. This simple change was at the heart of an overall office redesignthat helped create a renewed sense of community among the team, helping staff feel more valued and therefore happier at work.
For further examples of how we’ve supported a range of businesses in improving their office environments, take a look at the before and after images below.
Many organisations don’t budget for art in their commercial interiors projects. Yet some feel “art is a critical component – on par with light, air, ergonomics and quiet spaces” in a well considered office design. We think the tide is turning and more businesses are starting to feel that art is a necessity for their workspace.