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).

Planning for an office move – part 2

The best way to ensure that the actual move goes smoothly is to begin with an “as existing” space plan that shows your current office design and layout, and has each item of furniture identified with a code number. This plan can then be printed out at large scale, or emailed to all your staff, allowing them to add the identifying code to each item of furniture (we can recommend companies that can do this also using low-tack adhesive labels that are attached to every item of furniture). Then at the new site, a large printed plan shows the same furniture with identifier codes showing the porters exactly where each item of furniture should be moved to. This simple system ensures that you don’t end up with bits of furniture in the wrong places, and therefore ensures that your new office design will be put in place accurately and in accordance with the proposed plans. If you would like more advice about office moves, give us a call on 0845 166 8381.

Planning for an office move – part 1

When preparing for an office move there are many factors that often get overlooked. The first, and probably most important one is the office design. Often there is an assumption that just because the new office is larger, the will be no problem in fitting in the furniture, but there are many factors that can complicate the layout of office furniture, and often make spaces less useable than they should be. Important things to look out for include- is there a raised floor (as this allows more flexibility in the office layout design); are there pillars / power poles; is the floorplate an unusual shape; is the new office layout open plan, or made up of cellular offices? By starting with a furniture survey we can make sure that your furniture will fit in to your new office, but also we can ensure that it is laid out in the most efficient way. Our space planning service can also include 3d visuals and interior design, and we can even help to future proof your office, planning the layout to allow for potential expansion at a later date. This way our office design service can save you money in the future, and ensure that your staff are happy now. Give us a call to discuss how we can help- 0845 166 8381.

The advantages of maintaining a CAD file of your office layout

One of the first things we usually do as a part of a new project is to create a CAD (Computer Aided Design) drawing file of your office space as it is currently. We are then able to use this to see exactly what is where allowing us to know the locations of your partitions, doors, windows, heating and even your current furniture layout. Through our space planning process we would usually then produce a series of options as to how the new layout could look, and once complete the CAD file can be updated to ensure that it reflects the new current layout. Over time there are often many minor changes within an office layout, and we are able to come back to re-survey these, or often they can be carried out via a phone call. This then allows us to maintain an up to date plan of your office layout, which is useful for many reasons. Should you want changes to the layout in the future, these can then be produced quickly and easily using the source CAD plan, and a whole wealth of additional information can also be added such as staff names and telephone numbers, IT equipment, and even inventory tracking codes. You may also find it useful to give floor plans to new starters, and can show boundaries of different departments and their areas for charging purposes. By spending a small amount of time keeping this information up to date we are able to accurately maintain your office space plans and this will save you money in the long term, whilst also being a very useful information source about your working environment.

Bookable desking systems

You may be surprised to hear that approximately 40% of the time the average office desk is unoccupied during office hours. When you add up the amount of time that desk users are on leave, away due to illness, on courses, in meetings, or even just on lunch, it soon becomes clear that giving every member of staff their own dedicated desk may not be the best use of your valuable office space. There are many bookable systems that allow you to view exactly which desks are occupied at any time, and through using a system such as this you can increase the efficiency of your office space. The system doesn’t just apply to desks either as meeting rooms, training rooms, and manager’s offices are all spaces that could be used as a working environment if managed in a control manner. Through having better control over your desking you are able to free up space for other facilities for staff, such as breakout areas, coffee shops and even gyms; all of which are seen as a great asset to any employee.

We regularly work with companies that carry out time and motion and occupancy studies and we can recommend what would be your best course of action. Give us a call for more information.

The benefits of using an independent space planning company

You may have noticed that throughout our website we are very proud to state that we are an independent company, but what are the benefits of this? Well, put simply through being an independent company we are not tied to any supplier or product range. In fact our only aim is to ensure that our client gets the best possible service and value for money. A quick search of the web shows that there are actually very few independent space planning companies; many furniture suppliers offer a planning service (although this tends to be very different to our space planning service as we are happy to re-use your existing furniture), and there are many interior fit out companies, but again they are usually tied to their suppliers. Our independent status allows us to recommend the best possible solutions to your office design problems. We are able to recommend several furniture and fit out suppliers, and so we are able to obtain several quotes for you based upon our drawings and just a single site visit.

If you would like more information about our office design and space planning services, just give us a call.

Personalising your office reception

Your office reception is the first thing that visiting clients will see of your company and so it is vital that this area is kept up to date in order to make a good first impression. As well as looking good your office reception must be disability friendly, and this means that the standard tall reception counter is no longer such a good choice. Most modern reception counters now include a “cut away” section that is dropped to allow wheelchair users to access the counter, and it is also important to consider visually impaired visitors too, so raised glass surfaces may also be unsuitable. A good counter design will include space for storage underneath, as well as plenty of room for the reception staff, as this will be their primary workplace and so needs as much attention as any other workstation.

It is important to consider soft seating in a reception as visitors will need somewhere comfortable to sit while waiting, and fairly firm tub chairs and two seater sofas are a good choice here. Large sofas tend not to work as well as single seaters, so in a reception with limited space 2 or 3 single seaters and a small sofa would work well. Leather always wears well, especially in high traffic density areas, and is a good choice over fabric for anywhere that has users that may be drinking coffee.

Keeping visitors entertained whilst waiting is important, and a large flat screen displaying company information or a news channel is a god way of doing this. If there is the space an internet (or intranet) point can work well to allow visitors to catch up on work whilst waiting, and this can work well if combined as a touchdown counter with 2 or 3 stools that can double up as workspaces.

Receptions are the one area where you can go really bold with colours, or even use a modern lighting system to add changing colours to white walls. The key thing with any reception though is that it is designed with practicality in mind, and so must allow for adequate circulation space, especially as it is usually also the main fire exit. Call us to discuss how we can revamp your reception, and add a bit of life to your office!

Office flooring materials

We are often asked what materials are best to use in a modern office for flooring. This is an area where you can introduce a bold colour or design, and even use different colours to indicate different zones, or fire routes. Traditional carpets on a roll are not really ideal, as they can be tricky to repair (wear and tear and coffee damage happens far quicker in an office environment than it would in a domestic one due to the increased traffic). However carpet tiles are a good solution as they allow the user to replace single tiles at a time. If the carpet is made with a thick pile, then it is often hard to see any joins and the finish is similar to that of a roll, but without the drawbacks. Carpet tiles can also be useful when used with a raised floor as they can allow easy access to the wiring below the floor, and are usually supplied at the same size as the raised floor grid tiles (600×600mm). For areas such as coffee points where a carpet could quickly become stained a vinyl floor-covering works well. You can get a realistic wood effect vinyl that is actually laid in strips (like wooden planks) which allows for access under the floor should it be needed, and has several advantages over traditional wood, or laminate flooring products. One of the key advantages here is that the vinyl is quiet when walked upon; this may not seem a big deal, but many offices that were refurbished in the late 1990s with laminate floors soon found that the constant sound of heels on the wooden floor became a real problem. Vinyl is also very hardwearing and water resistant and so is a good choice for offices looking for a modern appearance. There are even companies that produce vinyl floor tiles that look like steel flooring for an industrial effect, or you can even get tiles with holograms set within them for a futuristic feeling.

For advice on office interior design, give us a call and we can discuss how we can bring your space up to date.

How a raised floor can improve your office layout

Most new build offices will be designed with a raised floor, but what exactly is this and how can it help to improve your office design? Basically a raised floor is a series of metal floor tiles laid over a raised grid that allow you to position electrical floor boxes anywhere within your office. This can then allow for much greater flexibility of office layout design as it means that desks do not necessarily need to be grouped in spurs coming directly off an external wall. The “spur design” tends to be the usual layout for most 1960s office buildings as these were designed with open plan in mind, but without knowing that the computer would become the standard office tool, and therefore access to electrical and network points would become so important. The raised floor allows the office furniture layout design to dictate the location of the floor boxes , rather than the position of electrical access points dictating the layout, giving the flexibility required to allow for islands of desks within an open plan office.

So, what can you do to have a more flexible layout if you don’t have a raised floor? Well, the first thing is that in order to avoid trailing cables, your most practical layout is likely to involve spurs of desks coming from the walls. However, you can also use any columns in the office in the same way, as it is relatively inexpensive to trunk power and data supplies up through a suspended ceiling and then down a column. Another way in which this can be implemented is via power poles; these work in the same way, having their supply via a suspended ceiling, but they can be moved, should the layout need to change in the future.

As more offices are going wireless and battery technology is improving we may soon be able to work completely wirelessly, and simply leave our laptops to charge overnight in a docking rack. This will give us a truly flexible office space and will no doubt have further impacts on office design.