Space planning for the future

When considering your office design it is worth planning ahead; after all you don’t want to have to redesign everything just a few months later because of an increase in staff headcount. Allowing for flexibility within your workplace design, particularly through including alternative workspace environments (such as breakout, hotdesk and touchdown areas), means that should you have a requirement for additional fixed desking in the future, you could replace some of the flexible spaces with desking. We often include maximum density space plans in our projects, and although these are rarely actually implemented (as they are literally at the limit of what can be safely and legally accommodated), they are very useful as they show what the absolute capacity of your office space is, allowing you to plan for the future. For example if you know that your office could hold a maximum of 120 staff, and you have 100 currently, then you know that you could potentially fit in an extra 20, but no more. Therefore if you are predicting a headcount increase of 40 staff in the next 2 years, it would be worth looking at additional office space, or implementing a desk share, hotelling or home working policy.

If you would like us to advise how to make the most of your office space, just give us a call.

The benefits of using an office design consultancy

Many companies have office layouts that are inefficient due to the way that they have grown organically, rather than having been properly space planned. There are many problems that can occur when an office has not been formally planned, and through our office design service we can make major improvements to your overall layout. This can help to increase the capacity of the space, to make walkways and fire routes more prominent, to clearly identify teams and boundaries and perhaps most importantly at the moment to ensure that you are not wasting money on unnecessary office space. Our service allows us to identify any areas that are under utilised, and show where additional desks could be accommodated whilst still using your existing furniture and storage. This means you get a very cost effective office design service, and once we have up to date plans of your office space, we can make future changes very quickly at minimal expense. Our plans comply with all necessary Health & Safety, DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) and Fire Regulations and we can even help with your DSE (Display Screen Equipment) risk assessments. Contact us to discuss how we can help.

3d design services

As well as producing 2d space plans, we also carry out 3d design services, but what exactly does this involve and what are the benefits? Put simply a 2d plan shows how a re-designed office would look as viewed from above; this is essential so that you know what will fit in, and that are you providing for all the required walkways and circulation routes. However the 2d plan is a view of the office that you will never actually get to see, and so this is the main benefit of using 3d design services in office design and space planning, which give you a realistic eye level view. Once we have an agreed 2d space plan, we are able to use this information, along with measurements and photos taken on site, to produce a 3d CAD model. We can then show this model as a series of views both at eye level and from above to show you exactly what your project will look like when completed. We can even show how it would look with different colour schemes and materials and also try out various different options such as open plan versus a layout with some cellular offices. In addition to this we can even produce a video walkthrough, which is a very realistic animated video taking a walk straight through your proposed office design. If you would to see some samples of this, try our gallery page, or drop us a line and we can email you some samples.

The pros and cons of using serviced offices

For many companies, once their office appears to be full and they desperately need additional office space, they turn to serviced offices. There are several chains of these ready to move in to offices, and they come ready equipped with furniture, communications and wifi. These offices are a good short term solution, but often the lack of office space in your main office site can become a long term problem. The staff at the serviced offices can often feel disjointed from the rest of the staff, and their accommodation costs tend to be much more expensive than the costs for office based staff. However we have found that in the majority of cases we are able to fit in a considerable number of extra staff at your existing offices through intelligent space planning. This means that the serviced offices are often no longer required and the staff can all be housed together at the one site. We are also able to produce maximum density plans, which let you know the overall capacity of your site, allowing you to plan for the future. If you would like us to plan for your future, drop us a line.

Furniture design trends

Furniture design evolves both with fashion and function changes, and in particular recently there has been a return to smaller office desks mainly due to technological changes. The average PC and monitor is now much smaller than it was a few years ago and this means that desks no longer need to be as large to accommodate them. Gradually more and more of the day to day office tasks are being done solely over the computer, and so there is less need for storage and desk space for dealing with paperwork. The current economic climate also means that people are wanting to get the best out of their space, and so furniture design is reflecting this with more smaller desk systems, and also more dual purpose, flexible furniture. With more offices using wifi wireless technology, and the potential for wireless electricity transmission not far away, the offices of tomorrow are likely to change further, moving away from the standard stationary desk per person to a more fluid and flexible office with furniture that can be adapted to suit the task in hand.

The current furniture design trends are for a very minimalist neat approach; there has been a huge amount of influence from the “Apple effect” with white gloss desks and cupboards being very trendy at the moment; giving a very clean effect. To add a bit of colour and life to the office a few items of classic designer furniture, such as a Jacobsen Egg chair, or a group of Verner Panton chairs can be added making the office look very contemporary. It is worth noting that whilst desks and storage are evolving, the design classics still look modern today, and there is more and more of a cross over from domestic designer furniture to the office.

If you would like advice as what furniture would suit your office design, give us a call on 0845 166 8381.

Office area information

One of the most common questions we get asked is what size of area should be allowed per person in an office. The answer depends on many factors such as the size and type of office furniture, the office space available, and even the actual job roles being carried out. However in the UK there is a volume requirement for 11 cubic metres of space per person. There is a restriction on this saying that any ceiling height above 3m is not counted, as otherwise the actual area per person could be very small, but very tall, but going on an average ceiling height the overall office area per person should be at least 4.2 square metres. This may sound fairly generous, but the figure includes all useable space within the office and so also needs to cover all circulation walkways, fire routes, furniture and storage, so in reality unless you have very tiny desks you are generally unlikely to get down to this figure. The best way to work out the area per person however is to space plan the office ensuring that the layout covers all required fire routes, DDA (Disability Discrimination Act), and Health & Safety requirements, and usually after the office has been planned taking these in to account the average office tends to have about 7 square metres per person.

If you would like us to carry out an office space audit and show you exactly where you have wasted space, and how to improve your office design, drop us a line to discuss your requirements.

Office furniture

There are many companies that can recommend and supply office furniture, so what makes us different. Well, we are a fully independent space planning company, which means that we are not tied to any supplier or product range, and therefore we only recommend the products that will suit you best, rather than what would suit us best. This means that you get unbiased advice and we can suggest furniture companies that will supply you with the best office furniture for your needs. Every office is different and not all will need top-end expensive furniture, and we are able to give you details for companies that specialise in simple effective furniture, as well as companies that have very solid, hardwearing furniture that is designed to stand up to many office moves. We can even advise on furniture recycling and disposal if you are considering a total revamp. Additionally we are able to carry out furniture condition surveys, these are accurate colour coded plans that show your existing layout and the state of each office desk, office chair and item of storage. This can be particularly useful for larger companies that have a large amount of furniture and know that some of it is past its best, but other parts are perfectly serviceable. We would test each chair, each drawer etc, and then rate each item of furniture as to whether it should be replaced, or is in good working order. The plans are then marked up with coloured hatching so it is very simple to see exactly what is where and its condition.

If you would like our advice about your office furniture, give us a call to discuss.

Office partitions

Much has been written about the benefits of removing your office partitions and going open plan, and it is true that this does increase the space efficiency. However, there are certain job roles and even departments that often need an increased level of confidentially and security, such as HR and Finance roles, and also senior management roles. In these cases there are still some things that you can do to maintain a light and airy office feel, despite the enclosed rooms. There are many excellent office partitioning systems that are mainly glazing, and these can offer excellent sound proofing, whilst still allowing the light through. For occasions when a greater degree of privacy is required you can get partitions with built in venetian blinds that allow you to close off the outside office, or even a system known as electrochromic switching. This is a system that has a very fine layer of liquid crystal suspended within the glass, and when switched on, the usually frosted glass becomes clear. This system is a relatively new technology, and so is still fairly expensive, but it is certainly impressive, perhaps for a company boardroom.

As we are a fully independent company we are not tied to any single supplier and so can recommend the best products for your requirements, and these can include curved partitions, glass partitions, or even moveable office partition systems. Drop us a line to discuss your requirements.

Office chairs

Office chairs are often overlooked when considering the ideal office design, but they are actually a very important tool to the office worker. Every day there are many thousands of people across Britain that are away from work due to bad backs, and often these problems are due to poor office chairs. Many staff remain seated for hours at a time in inadequate office chairs and this leads to poor posture, and eventually back pain. The first way to alleviate this problem is to ensure that staff are aware that they should get up and move around every hour. It is possible to promote this via office space planning by having office storage that is not right next to each member of staff. If you are having to get up and go to a central storage area to collect and replace files, then without realising it, you are exercising your back, and preventing strain. Centralised storage is also sensible to allow you to get the best out of your space planning as it allows you to group staff together, and storage together giving a much more efficient layout.

There are many hundreds of different types of office chair, so how do you know which one is the best for your staff? Basically there is no one chair that will be perfect for everyone has different requirements and body shapes, but as a general rule the more adjustable the chair is, the more likely you are to find a setting that suits the user. As a minimum the office chair needs to be height adjustable, and intensive users would ideally have some level of seat pan tilt and lumbar support. It is actually the responsibility of employers to ensure that all users of PCs have adequate office furniture for their job role (a DSE assessment- Display Screen Equipment), and we are able to send our staff to carry out these risk assessments at your office, and to make recommendations as to the most suitable furniture and office chairs for your staff. Call us to discuss how we can help.

The office desk and its effect on office design

The size and shape of the office desk plays a major part in the final office design. Obviously, the larger the desk, the fewer you can fit in, but also the shape can play a big role is the layout too. The most common office desk type in the UK is still the “L-shaped” desk, also known as a corner (or sometimes crescent) desk. This desk type has a deep corner section, which is designed to house a large CRT monitor. However, the majority of monitors are now flat screens, and so this space is in effect redundant. The large return of the L-shaped desk means that you need to space them further apart in order to allow for adequate access between desks. This is especially important due to the DDA regulations (Disability Discrimination Act), which state that the office should be planned in such a way that it is useable by wheelchair users and the less able bodied. It therefore makes sense when planning an office layout to consider the type of office desk and go for something that allows for adequate surface space, but doesn’t require a huge amount of space between desks. A solution here would be a wave type desk, which has a slightly deeper end at one side, which is usually 200mm deeper than the rest of the desk top (compared with 800mm deeper for most L-shaped desks). In fact due to the ever shrinking size of desktop PCs, many companies are even going for rectangular (straight) desks, or even flexible bench type desking. These can further help to improve your office design by being very space efficient, whilst still useable. There are many other types of office desks available too, such as the double wave, the 120 degree desk, and the call centre pod, so if you would like advice as to what would work best in your office, just give us a call, or drop us an email (see contact page for details).