Whether you’re setting up a new business, moving locations or refurbishing an old, tired workplace, there are a couple of things you should prioritise when you plan the office design and when purchasing furniture. While an exclusive, playful and funky-looking office might appeal to you, it is usually the practical elements that count in the end – and of course, good coffee.
Plan with your head, not your heart
Remember that your new office is a place where you and many other workers will have to work for several years. For that reason, going the route of practical furnishings and understated finishes is the most sensible option. Take furniture, for example: exclusively designed furniture may have bags of visual appeal, but it sometimes comes at the expense of comfort.
Rather than opting for eye candy, look for furnishings that assist productivity and comfort. Chairs that are designed to support office workers may not be pretty in all cases, but your colleagues will thank you when they spend their working days in comfort. Overpowering decorations and themes can be distracting, and you may end up having to explain to potential clients what the thinking was behind a chaotic-looking office.
Control the amount of natural light
We all want to work in a bright and airy office, but this often conflicts with our ability to read a computer screen. Intrusive, bright sunlight can render computer screens very difficult to read. One of the best options to counter the effects of intrusive external light is to install window shutters – allowing you to let natural light in when it suits you or shut out the sun when it becomes too bright.
Windows shutters are also excellent at keeping noise at bay if your office is on a noisy road, while being a hygienic alternative to other forms of window coverings. Bear in mind, however, that good lighting is very important for productivity, so if keeping the sunlight out makes your office look dark, you need to install quality interior lighting.
Use your office to reinforce your company brand
There’s no need to go over the top in this respect – if you have a pink logo, don’t paint all the walls pink – but it is symbolic for both visitors and your employees if you use the design of your office to link through to your company brand. For example, if your company logo is a grass-coloured green, try to add touches of it in areas such as door handles, or the colour of desk chairs.
If your entire company brand is in a classical style, opt for more classic-looking furniture – or at least add some classical touches. On the other hand, if you are a tech start-up, leave the ornate meeting room chairs behind and opt for something sleek. Discreetly including elements of your company logo should also be possible – by including them in the design of the wallpaper, for example.
Make use of multi-purpose furniture
A new trend is making use of furniture pieces that serve multiple purposes. This is especially important when you are working in a small space, or if your business is on a tight budget. There is ample room for creativity here, ranging from filing cabinets, which act as chairs, to ottomans that double as bins or stools. Also popular are workstations that are height adjustable, so that workers who prefer standing while working can be accommodated in the same space.
The multi-purpose principle counts for the entire office layout. For example, you can designate an area as both a breakout place as well as a meeting room, by simply cordoning it off with heavy curtains when you need privacy for a business meeting.
Flexibility is key
Businesses changes and grow over time, and your office space will need to be adaptable. This is especially important for small organisations, which can grow rapidly – and change purpose rapidly. Try to opt for an office space that can be reconfigured with ease. Instead of permanent walls, find a location with dry walling that can be taken out and moved, in case you need to add or remove meeting rooms.
Light and relatively inexpensive furniture can be a boon for flexibility, as you can add, move and remove desks as needed. However, don’t opt for cheap at the expense of good ergonomics. Also, keep in mind your technology requirements – try to go wireless if at all practical, which will make it far easier to move workers around.