If you’re embarking on a new office design or refurbishment project, here are some key areas that you really should prioritise in order to be assured of a successful outcome.
1. Set Clear Project Objectives and Desired Outcomes
At the beginning of your new office design or refurbishment, it’s important to identify and agree on the project objectives and final desired outcomes. Very often, a new office design or refurbishment is part of a company’s wider business vision to work smarter, improve productivity and reduce operational costs. These wider business objectives often affect areas and departments throughout the entire business and involve managing a vast degree of change for the organisation, such as cultural and mindset, technological, business processes and working practices. Ensuring that these factors are all aligned is critical to success.
2. Ensure Your Business Strategies and Office Design Aspirations Are Aligned
It’s good practice to pull together a project steering group that is made up of representation from key areas throughout the organisation. This may include Facilities, IT, HR, Sales and Marketing, Customer Experience and so on. Ensuring that every department within your company is given a voice and opportunity to contribute to the project is essential in ensuring that the final outcome meets all needs throughout the business. It’s also important to ensure that your company vision and office design aspirations are aligned with your departmental strategies.
3. Consider Your Company Culture
A new or refurbished office is most likely to bring with it a new approach to working. This invariably means a change in mindset and company culture throughout your entire organisation. Recognising this and ensuring that your company supports these changes is absolutely essential in achieving success and meeting your business objectives.
Changing company culture may mean adopting smart or agile working practices and moving from a presence-based culture to a results-oriented culture, where employees are empowered to manage their own time and output. To achieve this, your entire leadership team needs to be fully onboard with the new approach and the new ways of working need to be carefully introduced throughout the business. Your HR and IT departments are extremely important in enabling these new ways of working as they will be instrumental in ensuring that employees are fully informed and performance measures adapted. Likewise, your IT department will need to ensure that IT facilities are set up to support smart or agile working practices, employees are fully trained on how to use that technology and feel at ease with using it too.
4. Engage Your Employees
Another key element of planning your office design or refurbishment is engaging your employees to fully understand what their desires and requirements are. After all, they are going to be using the office on a regular basis and will have their own ideas about what they would like to gain from the space. It’s important to understand how they utilise the space and how they would like to utilise it moving forward. This insight will be critical in ensuring that your office design or refurbishment meets the desires and needs of your workforce.
Employee engagement is an ongoing process and so you should have a clear employee engagement strategy and plan in place throughout your entire culture change, office design and onboarding process. Continuing to gain input and feedback from employees on an ongoing basis will ensure that you create an office space that is designed specifically to meet your employees’ needs and that will enable them to work better in the long run.
5. Do a Space Utilisation Audit
Understanding how your office space is currently used is an important step in the office design process. A space utilisation audit involves monitoring over a period of time when and how varying spaces within your office are used and by whom.
We always recommend that you don’t base your workplace design decisions on space utilisation audits alone. In addition, make sure you engage your leadership teams and employees, asking how they use the space today and how they wish to in the future. Also make sure that you take into account external industry benchmarking, reporting and advice and run pilot programmes to test your intentions before fully implementing them.
6. Consider Building Services, Technology, Acoustics and Environmental Aspects Early on in the Office Design Process
When embarking on an office design project, it’s important to ensure that you consider the building services, your technological, and acoustics requirements at the early stages of the project. Making such considerations will enable you to ensure that all building aspects such as heating, energy and lighting as well as technological and acoustic requirements are specified and designed into the office space early on in the process, rather than shoehorned in at a later date. Carefully considering all of these elements at the early stages of the design process, alongside other factors such as when and how you wish to utilise the space, will also ensure that your office is based on informed, evidence-based design, meaning that your space is more like to deliver the right results for your business and employees.
7. Future-Proof as Much as You Can
Whilst is impossible to know exactly what the future holds, it is important to future-proof your office design as much as possible. This will mean creating an informed design based on the findings of your space utilisation audit and employee engagement activities. It also means ensuring that your design is flexible enough to adapt as your business continues to grow and change.
8. Educate Your Employees on the New Office Features Available to Them
A key part of your office design project is the on-boarding and employee induction process. This involves ensuring that all employees are fully trained on how to use all of the new office features such as technology, sit-stand desks, collaboration spaces, relaxation areas, and so on and most importantly are at ease with using these features on an ongoing basis.
9. Review Your Progress
Once your new office is up and running, it’s also important to continue to review its success and make tweaks and changes as all employees get used to using the space on a daily basis. Continuing to carry out space utilisation audits and engaging with your employees on what they think and how they feel about the new space will enable you to make sure that the space is being used as you intended and if it’s not, make adjustments so that it is.
As workplace consultants with extensive experience of working with clients on their office design or refurbishment projects, we provide practical advice and inspiring designs that truly meet our clients’ briefs.
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