Your Number One Guide to Office Design For Both Now And The Future

Published on 10/02/2021

 

  • Introduction
  • 5 Reasons Why Office Design Matters
  • The Importance of Flexible Office Design
  • What Changes Are We Likely to See in The Future Office?
  • 8 Must Haves For a Flexible And Productive Office
  • Why Does Decoration Matter so Much?
  • Your Focus Should be on Collaboration 
  • 5 Considerations When Designing an Agile Workspace 
  • Conclusion

The most productive offices are the ones that have been designed carefully. 

Offices need to be created in a way which considers several key elements. It’s no good just throwing any random office furniture into a space, turning on a computer and expecting employees to just get on with it. If you go down that route, you’re going to find that productivity levels are pretty low, morale will be even lower, and employees will have a million and one complaints about the office in which they’re working. 

There is a false line of thought when it comes to office work. Many people assume that all an office worker needs is a computer or laptop, office chair and desk. Sure, they’re the basics, but what about appropriate systems which allow employees to get their work done seamlessly and without stress? What about opportunities to share ideas around the boardroom tables? What about designing the space so that people can find what they’re looking for without wasting time?

Productive offices aren’t just spaces with laptops in, they’re offices which are designed carefully and flexibly. 

In this guide, we’re going to talk at length about how you can design a high quality office for your employees, but there is a difference. We’re also going to talk about how you can design an office which is fluid and flexible for your needs. It’s unlikely that the office of the future is going to be exactly as it is now. Sure, it might not be wildly different, but you need to think ahead a little and ensure that when changes need to be made, they’re not always going to involve a full office refurbishment in order to keep up. 

Handily, we’re going to give you all the information you need to design your perfect office for both now and in the future. 

5 Reasons Why Office Design Matters

First things first, why does office design actually matter all that much? If you’re going to go to the trouble of redesigning your office, you have to know why you’re doing it. 

It’s not just about having a fancy office to show off to anyone who happens to walk in to your space, it’s far more in-depth that than. A top quality office design enhances the experience of your employees whilst they’re working, it makes life easier, it ensures a smoother workflow, and it boosts morale. 

Think about it, wouldn’t you rather work in a new, sleek, and comfortable office, compared to a small, dark, and poorly decorated space? The small things really do matter and by thinking ahead and anticipating any future changes that you might need to pay attention to, you can avoid having to do the whole thing all over again too soon. 

It’s true that changing your office around in any guise is expensive, but by planning ahead, you can ensure that you don’t end up going over old ground, changing things you don’t need to change, or replacing things which you could have reused. This all saves you time and money. 

So, why does the design of an office actually matter all that much?

Quality Office Design is Impressive to Visitors

When your office is designed in an impressive way, it’s going to make visitors think that you’re a professional business. This could be clients, customers, or even new talent that may come to work for you in the future. It gives that positive first impression that’s so important and it also gives people confidence in the service that you provide. They think “if their office is in order and looks the part, their goods and services will do the same”. 

Quality Office Design Improves Employee Morale

We’ve touched upon this one already, but when your office is comfortable and looks great, employees will want to work there. It makes going to work so much more appealing. When you’re sitting at a fancy office desk and the space around you is clean, sleek, and easy to move around, it pushes your level of work to the next notch. 

All of this improves morale and ensures that employees work to the best of their ability, increasing productivity. Of course, productivity has a very strong link with profits, and that’s something all businesses want!

Quality Office Design Improves Efficiency

When everything has its place and the flow of work around the office is clearer and easier, efficiency is increased, mistakes are reduced, and employees are able to get more done in the time they have. Employees are able to easily find what they need, storage isn’t overflowing, printers aren’t placed too close to desks and causing an uncomfortable situation and everyone has move around without falling over one another. Designing your office with tasks in mind and ensuring the flow is sensible will benefit you now and in the future. 

Quality Office Design Facilitates Collaboration 

Modern office design is key to collaboration. This means there are dedicated spaces for employees to go and discuss ideas, brainstorm and generally collaborate on tasks they have before them. This might mean large open spaces or it might mean individual office booths. However you design your space, make sure that there is enough room for collaboration and that you place these areas sensibly, to avoid disturbing those who are working quietly. 

Quality Office Design Reduces Employee Sickness

Offices that are designed with the employee in mind and their comfort level will always see lower levels of employee sickness. This is because there will be ergonomic office furniture in place, able to be adjusted to the individual needs of employees. This cuts down on musculoskeletal issues, which often cause employees to go off sick. The space will also be a less stressful place to be, and again, workplace stress is another of the main reasons for employee absence. 

By choosing a design that is in alignment with your employees’ needs, you’ll reduce sickness and therefore reduce lost time and business costs over the long-term.  

So, these are the five reasons why office design matters. To take this a step further, check out this interesting TED Talk, which talks about the good, the bad, and the very ugly of office design!

The Importance of Flexible Office Design

Why does your office design need to be flexible? Basically because nothing ever stays the same for very long in the world of business.

Technology is always shifting, changing, and developing, and you need to have an office which can be easily tweaked to accommodate any important changes that your business needs to make. Perhaps you will decide in two or three years’ time that you want to have a breakout space at the far end of the open plan office. In that case, how are you going to achieve that aim if you have already packed in as many office desks as it is possible to accommodate?

It’s about space management. Think carefully about the number of employees you have now and take into account whether you’re going to see yourself employing more in the future. Of course, you don’t have a crystal ball and it could be that things change without a huge amount of notice, but you can anticipating your changing business requirements to a certain degree.

It’s a good idea to sit down and think about what you need now but also factor in what you may need in the coming months and years. Then, you’re not going to need to completely change your office again. These are expensive changes and they’re also quite an upheaval for employees who are trying to hit their targets and get their work done. By reducing costs and time lost as much as possible, you’ll see a smooth transition between any changes that you need to make. 

Office design trends also come and go. Perhaps you will want to completely change the décor of your office, but you don’t want to change the way it is laid out. That’s a pretty easy change to make, but not if you’ve installed a living wall in a biophilic theme! Think about what you think is going to stand the test of time and what isn’t. 

The main future developments to bear in mind are:

  • Growing or reducing workforce
  • New technology 
  • Ease of changing the décor

By paying attention to those future changes when you’re thinking about your initial redesign, you’ll be able to seamlessly switch between the two versions, without causing a major drama. Dramas cost time and money!

What Changes Are We Likely to See in The Future Office?

Let’s take a peek into that non-existent crystal ball for a minute and identify some likely trends that will appear in the future office. Obviously, every business is different but there are some items which are forecast to have a huge impact on the way businesses are run in the future and how offices are designed to integrate these changes.  

  • An increase in remote working – It’s thought that more employees will work from home either all of the time or part of the time, and that employees will simply ‘drop in’ to the office when they need to discuss something or when they prefer to work in the office on that particular day. This is obviously going to create more of a focus on home office design too, as you can’t simply grab your laptop and work effectively from your sofa – you need a home office with a comfortable office chair and desk at least. 
  • Technological changes – Without a doubt, software and other technological changes will be big themes in the coming years. Technology never stands will and with more video calling taking place, changes in artificial intelligence, and touch screens rather than the use of laptops and regular keyboards, etc, technology looks to be more streamlined and more sophisticated as the years tick on. 
  • Centralised Filing And Office Machinery – It’s unlikely that we’re going to continue down the line of individual office storage solutions and large printers in open plan offices. These take up a huge amount of space and they also create barriers to employees walking around. Printers are also noisy and create a lot of heat too. That means we’re more likely to see centralised filing spaces and fewer printers. Most offices aim to be paperless so when an employee does need to print something, the machine is likely to be situated outside of the office. 
  • A greater focus on collaboration – We’re going to talk about collaboration in a bit more detail shortly and how you can make it easier in your office design but the future office looks set to be a more team-orientated place than it is today. Team collaboration ensures more ideas and a more positive working environment and that is something that we’re probably going to see a lot more of in the future. 
  • A focus on the experiential workplace – Offices are probably going to move away from the regular theme and focus more on the experience of working within them. Big hitters such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc, have already started this progress and you’ll see more leisure facilities, breakout furniture spaces, and relaxation zones than before. This is because employees understand that looking after employees increases productivity. Expect to see a focus on comfort far more than ever before. 

For a few more ideas on what we’re likely to be focusing on in the coming years, check out this infographic. 

Source - https://www.raconteur.net/infographics/the-future-office/

8 Must Haves For a Flexible And Productive Office

When you’re starting to think about how you want your office to look, and what you think you’re going to need for the future, there are some staples that are very unlikely to change. These are the basics which should make up the foundations of your office space.

In this section, let’s look at 8 must-haves for an office which is not only productive and comfortable, but also flexible enough to change a little in the future. 

  1. A Design That Fits in With Your Brand – It makes sense that your office design should tell people what your business is about. You can’t have an insanely bright and ultra-creative office décor if your business is about something like insurance or funeral planning, but you could have this type of décor if you were designing children’s toys, etc. Similarly, you shouldn’t have a dark and extra-sleek design if you’re in the line of children’s toys. Your office design needs to be in line with what you are about and who you are as a business. This is ideal for making that ideal first impression.
  2. Ergonomic Office Furniture – Office chairs that can be adjusted, desks which can be increased in height for a sitting and standing routine (height adjustable desks or stand height desks) and the ability to use all of these features freely means that employees will be more comfortable, more supported, and will suffer less aches and pains throughout the day.
  3. Space to Move Around – You need to have enough space for employees to move around. Don’t pack too many desks into the office, to the point where people have to walk sideways to get past one another. That’s a stressful office, not a productive one. 
  4. Enough Storage, But Not Too Much – We mentioned earlier that storage is likely to be centralised in the future, as offices finally move towards the paperless model. However, you still need to have just enough storage for the things you need. There is a piece of middle ground that needs to be hit here, between too much storage for the sake of it, therefore taking up too much space, and not enough storage and people can’t find what they’re looking for. 
  5. Natural Light And Fresh Air – However you design your office, make sure there is enough natural light entering the space and that there is fresh air too. This means not blocking the windows and ensuring that you have them open as much as possible. This increases productivity and ensures the health and wellbeing of your employees. 
  6. A Pleasing Décor – It goes without saying that you need your office to look pleasant. This increases the mood in the space and makes people want to do more. When people feel dragged down by a dark office space, they’re not going to work as much as they could do. This is just human nature, and it’s true that colours really do affect mood. When planning your office space design, make sure you take décor into account too. 
  7. Effective Lighting – Alongside décor, you need the right kind of lighting for your office. This should be bright enough, but not too bright. It also needs to be totally free of flickering and glare, and it needs to avoid giving employees headaches. Of course, you should utilise natural light as much as possible. 
  8. Space to Expand – If you want to expand your office in the future, whether you’re 100% sure of it now or not, you’ll need the office space to do so. This is even more important when you’re looking at moving into a shared office space design because more people means more noise, more heat, and more distractions. Be wary of how you design your office now if you do think that in the future there is a chance of expansion. 

Why Does Decoration Matter so Much?

We’ve mentioned having a pleasing décor a few times now, but why is that so important? Again, it’s about how it makes you feel when you’re in that space. Colour psychology is a real thing. Check out this infographic which talks a bit more about how certain colours can make you feel a certain thing and why it’s so important in interior design. This infographic might focus on homes, but the feel for an office is just the same. 

Source - https://www.livinspaces.net/interviews-and-articles/infographic-psychology-color-importance-interior-design/

Whether you’re thinking about small office design or a larger, open plan setup, it’s important to think about décor and how it makes your employees feel once they’re inside. It’s also important to know how the space makes visitors feel. 

Of course, décor fashions change very regularly and there is likely to come a time when you want to mix things up a little and give your office a fresh coat of paint or a total colour change entirely. By choosing your décor carefully, you can ensure ease of décor changes in the future. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to go for neutral colours, such as white, grey, or beige, but it does mean that if you choose to paint a wall bright pink, you’re aware that it’s going to take a little time to cover it over the next time you want to decorate! Perhaps with brighter shades, it’s easier to consider wallpaper to add that pop of colour but also make it easy to remove for when you want to redesign your space décor in the future. 

Office interior design is certainly something which neds to be taken seriously and it has a very real effect on productivity. 

A few colours to possibly avoid include: bright red, black, deep purple. Reds are known to incite passion and fire, but they can also heighten tempers which isn’t ideal in a collaborative space! However, if you go for natural shades like yellow, blue, or green, you’ll benefit from a calmer space and an increase in creative thinking. 

Your Focus Should be on Collaboration 

We all know that teamwork and collaboration are important for businesses these days, but how do you design your office to ensure that these elements can occur without causing too much noise for those who are working quietly on a concentrated work?

Collaborative zones are an ideal option here. These are dedicated spaces where people can go to discuss, brainstorm, and come up with new thoughts on projects related to work. There are countless types of furniture choices you can implement into your office design to make this easier, such as office booths, screen dividers, breakout furniture, and even acoustic panels to soak up the noise and make it easier for everyone else to concentrate.

If you have a small office, implementing a collaborative zone is going to be a little harder, but in that case you can use a meeting room or you could create a breakout space outside of the office. This could then be decorated in a bright and creative way, to inspire new ideas and solutions.

An increased focus on collaboration is certainly something we’re likely to see in the future office, and that’s saying something consider we tend to focus upon it quite a lot already! Businesses are realising more and more that ideas from employees who work within the office day in, day out are likely to be higher quality compared to those who doesn’t work within it and therefore don’t have experience of the problem. By encouraging collaboration, solutions will be far higher in quality and more likely to work.  

5 Considerations When Designing an Agile Workspace 

Moving on from the focus on collaboration, agile offices are one answer to that problem. If you’re not sure what an agile office is, check out this video which gives some interesting insights into the subject.

If you’re thinking about perhaps implementing an agile element into your office, there are some things you need to think about first, and some must-haves that should come into the equation. 

  1. Noise Control – When people are brainstorming together, it can become quite loud in the office. You’re going to have people working on quieter tasks, people working together to collaborate, people having meetings, and people just having a break. You need to be able to control the noise level without constantly asking people to be quiet – that totally defeats the point of collaboration! In that case you need to think about where you place your quiet zones and your collaborative zones and you also need to consider acoustic panels on the wall to soak up some of the noise. 
  2. Consider expanding – You are going to need plenty of space if you are going to move towards an agile model either now or in the future. Are there any adjacent spaces you can branch into? How about offices next door – can you knock down walls and expand that way? Look at how you can expand your office space, working with what you already have. A small office isn’t a barrier to an agile office per se, but it does make it a little more difficult to create a high quality one. 
  3. Adjustable furniture – People are going to be moving around from zone to zone and that means one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to chairs. Ergonomic office chairs are vital in an agile working situation, so make sure that you invest in high quality adjustable chairs and train your employees in how to use them correctly. This will cut down on the chances of lower back pain, neck pain, etc. You should also think about stand height desks or height adjustable desks as these are ideal for agile spaces whilst also boosting health and wellbeing. 
  4. Innovative technology – In an agile office, there are always going to be employees who are working remotely, working from home on that particular day, and you’ll want to catch up with them and collaborate. For that reason, video calling facilities are necessary for Zoom collaboration sessions, and you should also think about things like interactive whiteboards. The future office is likely to become more interactive and technological as the years roll on and the agile workspace needs to incorporate this. 
  5. Breakout spaces and time out areas – One of the main elements of an agile workspace is a breakout space. This is a multifunctional area where employees can go to have a break, collaborate in small groups, or simply sit for five minutes for a time out. You should think about where to place this and you should also think about how you’re going to furnish it. Booths are a great idea for people who just need a few minutes to themselves, therefore reducing workplace stress, but you should also think about break areas, in line with the experiential and creative workplace we talked about earlier. 

Conclusion

Creating an office might feel like a huge mountain to climb but once you break it down into smaller milestones, it may become a quite enjoyable endeavour! There are many office design ideas you can take inspiration from, but be sure to create a space which is in line with your business values and what your employees want. 

The single best starting point is your employees. Create a focus group, find out what they would like to see, what they need, what they want, their ideas. Your employees are the ones with first-hand experience of what it’s like to spend a large amount of time in that office as it is, so they’re the ones who can tell you exactly what needs to be improved and how. 

You will certainly need to work to a budget but always create with one eye on the future. This will ensure that you don’t waste time and money on a design which cannot be tweaked or changed even slightly in the coming years. We’re living in fast-paced, technological times and that means that nothing is going to stay the same for very long. 

By creating an office that you can tweak and move with the times, you’ll ensure your employees are happy and comfortable, you attract new talent to work within your office, and anyone who visits your space will gain just the right first impression of who you are as a business. 

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