Category: Space Planning

5 things to consider when designing an office

Office design is an investment, and when done right, it can create a collaborative, productive and conducive environment for employees. Wellbeing directly correlates to employee productivity and output, so it pays dividends for employers to invest in a working environment that is inviting and stimulating, as opposed to stark and doldrum.

People spend a large portion of their day at work; with this in mind, as an employer, you want to incite enthusiasm within your employees. A team that has a welcoming space to work is more likely to feel enthused about the workday, and happy employees make for a more productive workforce. Office space design is a key factor that can help you create a workspace that employees love, and are proud of.

Meridian Interiors has been creating modern office spaces for over 20 years, and as experts in office space planning, we are sharing five tips for the perfect office layout below.

What does your office space need to look like?

Planning ahead

Planning ahead and considering the needs of your employees is key to designing an office space that works for everyone. Think about any specific office design features your team would benefit from. Consider working personalities and working styles: does your team have a lot of group meetings? Would they benefit from multifunctional work areas? It’s worth getting a sense of this before initial plans are drawn up, as the more detailed the brief you are working with, the easier it is for the office design planners to create a space that truly meets the needs of your employees and business from the offset.

Some features your office will benefit from include:

  • Breakout spaces
  • Glass partitions
  • Meeting rooms
  • Multifunctional workspaces
  • Individual desk space
  • Welcoming reception area

The top 5 things to consider when refurbishing an office space

Below are the top 5 things to focus on when refurbishing an office.

1. Lighting

Office lighting plays an important role in creating a welcoming working space. This is because different tones of lighting evoke different moods. Different styles of artificial lighting will bring a different energy and feel to the office. From high intensity, brighter lighting to dim lighting, the right office lighting can counteract the harsh, stark lighting from the computer screen, and help protect employees’ eyesight.

Types of office lighting and their benefits:

Dim lighting

Dim lighting can help to create a warm and inviting office space, however, be aware of lighting that is too dim, which could slow down productivity in the workplace. It’s important to get the balance right, as you don’t want to evoke an environment that’s too comfortable and leaves employees feeling sleepy. Dim lighting is generally encouraged to help people wind down before sleep, and scientifically speaking, dim light stimulates melatonin production and its resultant drowsiness.

Neutral lighting

Neutral artificial lighting should be welcoming, but with cool undertones to prevent too much of a relaxing setting. Neutral lighting can also help your energy bills from piling up, too. Mid-range colour temperatures will help with alertness, without being too stark. Ideally, neutral lighting with cooler hues should be used in an office setting, with studies finding that higher temperature lighting results in higher workplace productivity.

Bright lighting

Brighter, cooler lighting can help with alertness in the workplace, however, it’s important to avoid stark, unnatural lighting that could cause eye strain and headaches. Brighter lighting lowers melatonin, which reduces fatigue. However, heavily artificial and bright lighting can also ramp up the energy bill, so consider office design that makes use of as much natural light as possible.

Natural light

Natural lighting is very important to consider when designing an office space. Natural lighting helps to feel more productive and can help reduce energy costs, too. Sunlight has a powerful effect on the mental health of employees, helping to boost serotonin and boosting mood. Just as natural light helps you to get up in the morning, it can incentivise employees to feel productive and focused. Sunlight helps us produce Vitamin D and melatonin as well as serotonin, and bright sunlight also helps us feel more alert in general.

2. Storage

Office storage is another important factor in workplace design. Clever storage can help keep things tidy and organised, especially if you are in a large office. Shelving, drawers, storage walls and cupboards are all office storage ideas that can help you to utilise your space well. You can find office desks with storage, and there are plenty of office space ideas that allow for storage. Good office storage can help to keep any documents and physical data safe, secure and organised. It’s also just good practice to keep on top of clutter in an office; nobody wants to come into work to a mess!

Read our guide for more: How to maximise your office space

  • Go paperless where possible – excessive amounts of paper result in more clutter. Of course, there will always be a need for paper within an office environment, but by limiting paper use where possible and going digital, you will save a lot of space and time (and will also help save the planet!)
  • Be clever with desk storage – desks often take up a lot of space so where possible utilise the space below and above office desks, with additional drawers or storage units to maximise the office space you’re working with.
  • Utilise wall space – wall space is a great way to take up less physical floor area in your office, giving you more room to move around. Shelving and storage walls bring another level to your workspace and can help keep things tidy. Colour-coded filing systems, photo frames and indoor plants are simple ways to smarten up shelves and bring some depth, colour, and personality to your office.

3. Breakout areas

Top tip: Read our blog Office breakout area ideas

Breakout areas are another key part of any office space. Depending on your office location or size, you will need to accommodate a space for employees to relax and enjoy their breaks. Office breakout spaces can include kitchens, comfy areas, and places to chat and unwind with other colleagues. Just as it is important to create a productive environment for your team, it’s also important to provide space for employees to relax and unwind. Employees often use these times to chat to colleagues and switch off; taking breaks throughout the day can help with employee focus and helps prevent burnout, so by providing this space for employees, you’ll see the benefits when they return to work, rejuvenated and refreshed. 

4. Multifunctional spaces

Collaborative spaces are arguably one of the most important features of a modern office and are vital to consider in the early design stages of your new office layout. When considering collaborative spaces and meeting rooms, try to futureproof, and allow for all potential situations beyond a simple team meeting. If you regularly have visitors to the office, do your larger office spaces account for this? If you are in the process of expanding, do your initial concept designs consider this? It would be nothing short of a waste to lay the groundwork for a beautiful office space, to only find you grow out of it in six months! Multifunctional workspaces are a must-have feature of a modern office.

Benefits of multifunctional workspaces

Encourages employee interaction and collaboration

If employees have no space to meet and discuss ideas, then you may be missing a trick. By creating a work area that has a multifunctional space, employees will be encouraged to break up the day and will feel more comfortable in sharing ideas in a welcoming space, as opposed to in a formal meeting room.

Allows for networking opportunities

Your office space will be more conducive for impromptu meetings and networking sessions if there is a space that is suitable to hold them. This space will be separate from the main working area, meaning groups won’t disturb those who are in focus mode.

Reflects company culture

Employees appreciate it when employers recognise their needs, and as an employer, you’ll be ticking all the right boxes by providing multiple workspaces to work from. This can help break up the monotony of the workday, and if your team regularly works together on projects, then a multifunctional workspace – where teams can work together – will not only be appreciated but necessary.

Avoids meeting room timetable clashes

It can be very frustrating to find yourself needing a place to work together and finding the meeting room booked up. Having a space that can be used as a makeshift meeting room is very handy for such occasions, and is reflective of a typical working day in an office.

5. Thoughtful design

Of course, an underlying premise that runs through every office design and should be a key consideration for every decision made is thoughtful design. From ergonomic chairs to suitable sized desks, to tasteful interior office design. Make sure you define the needs of your office refurbishment long before work begins. This will help you tie in all your ideas together to create a design that, when it comes to fruition, meets all your requirements and beyond. Together these elements will help create a welcoming, inviting office that employees look forward to working in. It really is that simple!

You can find a number of our case studies here, which can help inspire you when coming up with your own office designs.

Check out our blog for more tips and advice:

Office refurbishment guide
How to design a productive office environment
The ultimate guide to office design
Open office vs closed office: A guide

You can speak to our team today to find out more information, or head to our blog for the latest insights.

How to Maximise Your Office Space

One of the advantages of good office design is that offices can help ensure your workplace maximises the space available in a way that works for everyone. 

In this article, we provide industry insight and guidance on how you can achieve an office that promotes good workflow and space-saving techniques. 

Within this article we cover the following:

  • How do you make a good office?
  • How to design an office space
  • Maximising the space in your office 
  • Office layout types 

How do you make a good office?

Creating a good office involves good office design that creates a welcoming and productive workspace. Workspaces should be comfortable for employers; a productive space where that can feel comfortable, and carry out their work effectively.

The long term benefits of good office design include employee wellbeing and increased productivity; so you may be asking, how is this achieved?

  • The type of furniture used
  • The colour scheme
  • The amount of natural light
  • The way the space is divided

Spend time thinking about how you would like the office space to be used, and how it could most benefit its users. Ask yourself how you would like to define the space, how can you improve collaboration between colleagues, consider employee habits and well-being, what could you improve and how could you future-proof the space. 

How to Design an Office Space

At Meridian Interiors, we operate an office design process that flows from conception through to completion, exploring options and solutions throughout the process. We find this system enables our expert designers to develop the best workplace to maximise the workspace.


You can discover more about our Office Design services here. and is explained in more detail here.

Maximising the Space in Your Office

Layout

The use of effective layouts within an office design will help to ensure footfall flows efficiency throughout the space, air and light moves effectively and collaboration between staff and departments is possible. 

Depending on the space available, it is advisable to divide the space up into functional areas with office partitions, in the most appropriate way. Within a modern working environment, popular options for areas to consider including, to maximise your office are:

  • Collaborative Spaces
  • Social Areas
  • Quiet Rooms
  • ‘Zoom’ rooms

As well as creating dedicated ‘work’ areas, employees benefit from a well-designed break out space.

For more tips, please read our article Office Breakout Area Ideas

Partitions

Using partitioning is a great way of creating functional areas and good airflow. 

Partitioning does not have to mean solid walls though. Dividing up the space to maximise its use by employees can be done with any form of partition, such as:

  • Glazed partitioning
  • Shelving
  • Columns
  • Storage wall
  • Green living walls
  • Folding walls 
  • Screens

Storage

Good storage is a key element of good office design, whether you are a very small start-up business or a larger more developed company. Focussing some energy on keeping an office space organised, can help to make it an enjoyable place to work, helping to create a more efficient working environment and providing a positive impression to visitors. 

Storage can form part of a partition, be located above desks, within pedestals, cupboards, shelving, storage wall or filing cabinets.  Most office layouts incorporate a selection of different types of storage, to ensure the best use of the available space, buying furniture that best suits the design style. 

Utilising floor to ceiling height, space above and under desks, creating privacy and reducing noise pollution throughout the office are all ways to get your storage to work for you and maximise your office space.

Furniture

Furniture can bring style, colour and personality into an office space. Using different sized furniture to best reflect the size of the working environment can be useful. 

A good idea is to experiment with different furniture layouts, as different employees with different roles may work best with different desk layouts to each other. Small groups of desks can be used to encourage teamwork, but ensure there is enough space for each employee. 

Office furniture is not all about desks and task chairs, however, and it is equally important to invest time into researching how employees will get the most out of the workspace. More modern agile and flexible working practices mean that employees may work remotely much of the time and simply come to the office as a place to collaborate and meet with colleagues and visitors, and therefore need a hot desk and meeting area. 

Other staff may work most of their time within the office, but need a quiet space to hold conference calls or deal with personal admin. 

You may even find that having a pool table in the office enables staff to have a break from their screens, clear their heads for a few minutes, develop better relationships with colleagues and as a result improve their productivity!

One size most certainly does not fit all and developing the best office layout design can really help to maximise your space.

Office Layout Types

During the 19th century, office cubicles were very prominent, with everyone partitioned into their own office or cubicle space. This way of working changed at the turn of the 21st century to an open plan style layout in many workplace environments, these designs could minimize costs within the office, such as reduced construction fees, the ability to squeeze more people into less square footage and fewer cubicle furniture pieces to purchase. 

Read more in our guide: Office Space vs Closed Office space – A Short Guide

This trend started to change around 5 years ago, as people started to realise that the open-plan layouts can be rather noisy and a more chaotic place to work, especially for businesses that require quieter working environments, confidentiality, and concentration, such as accounting firms, financial planning agencies and law firms.

Many companies are therefore now opting for more flexible office spaces, tailored towards their employee’s needs, to ensure employee wellbeing and to create more productive environments. This has been possible through both the advances in technology and the flexibility this promotes as well as the awareness of mental health within the workplace. 

Find out how Meridian Interiors can work with you to maximise your office space by getting in touch today or by exploring our office design services on our website.

A Definitive Guide to Office Space Planning (for 2021 and beyond)

As an experienced company in office design and office fit-outs, Meridian Interiors have experience in creating well-designed, well planned and executed offices and workspaces. We have used our expertise to create an all-encompassing guide on how your company can best plan out an office space for functionality, practicality, and flow.

What is office space planning?

Office space planning is a commercial interior design stage where you consider how the workplace can produce the best possible environment for staff and visitors alike. It is an opportunity to analyse how the company is structured, how this correlates with how specific teams work together and how the layout of the office can aid a positive working environment.

At Meridian Interiors, we start this process with a Workplace Evaluation, where we meet with key people from your organisation to set out the project parameters and review your main project objectives.

Benefits of office space planning

What are the benefits of office space planning? Read below to explore the best reasons to plan your office space, and how it can help you get the most out of your workspace.

Getting more from your space

Have your working practices changed, as your company has grown or modernised, but your office is still set up in the same rigid way it always has been? Investing time into creating an office layout plan to establish the best way for staff to interact and collaborate is a benefit of office space planning. It ensures you really think about the different functions, how the staff in those teams work most effectively, remembering there may not be a one size fits all solution and how these functions could make the best use of the available space.

Employee input

Optimise office space planning and see it as an opportunity to involve employees and encourage collaboration. Such changes to the office layout can be key in creating a workspace that works for everyone. Staff are key to a business’s success and feeling comfortable within a working environment can promote better well-being. And being involved in the office space planning process can help to boost morale. 

Creating more space

A badly designed layout may make you feel like you need to relocate to larger premises. Whilst this may be the case, it may simply be a need to redesign the current workplace to create more usable space. This is an option worth exploring, as it is certainly a more economical option to relocating.

Planning for the future

Realigning your office space can also help you plan for the future. This may be to realise that the existing space has room for expansion, or it may be to understand at what point a relocation will be necessary for future years.

How do you plan an office space?

Office planning starts with an evaluation of your existing workspace. Things to consider are:

  • What works well?
  • What could be improved?
  • How do departments, functions and teams work together?
  • Evaluate IT infrastructure
  • Analyses time spent in each area. Are there areas that need to be decreased or increased in size?

From there, investigate how you want people to behave in the new space and then establish your workplace requirements, to best plan the layout.  At this stage, think about concepts like agile working, hot desking, collaborative working and how they may be used to good effect in your office space.

Office spaces are an environment where stakeholders should be productive, creative and well connected, so planning an appropriate space is time well spent.

Once the evaluation has been carried out, you can utilise your findings to start planning your space. This is the fun bit, as you can start designing how you would like it to look and feel, how people should interact with the space and how technology can be embraced to enhance your business’ productivity.

How do you calculate how much office space I need?

A good working environment is not usually achieved by packing in as many workstations as possible into the desk space available, as many factors should be considered when planning your workplace.

Top Tip: You can read more about appropriate desk space in our previous guide: How to Design a Productive Office Environment.

At this stage, involving a professional office planning, design and fit-out company would be beneficial, as they have CAD software, knowledge of modern materials, design concepts and workplace products.  

How much office space per person?

Figures that are often used are 100 to 150 square ft per person however, this will depend on the type of work that your employees carry out, along with the type of furniture they will need to carry out their role. Selecting the right office furniture is paramount to making the space work most effectively while creating a comfortable workplace.

What is the best way to layout an office?

Using the knowledge gained in your evaluation stage will enable your office designer to create office layout ideas that will work best for your business.

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to office design and the most successful layouts are office layouts that focus on creating productive and positive environments for staff.

Providing the following areas within your office layout have proven to be popular choices within a modern working environment:

  • Collaborative spaces
  • Social areas
  • Quiet rooms
  • ‘Zoom’ rooms

Top Tip: Read our detailed guide: Must-Have Office Features Employees Will Love.

Office space design

If an office is planned effectively, it will impact favourably on staff well-being and productivity, as well as creating a positive impression for visitors and customers alike. 

Office space design utilises space planning practices to create effective layouts, which aid efficient footfall throughout the space, ensures air and light moves effectively within the workplace and enables collaboration between staff, teams and functions. 

Find out how Meridian Interiors can assist you with space planning within your workspace by getting in touch today or by exploring our office design services on our website.

The Complete Guide to Office Interior Design

Whether you are struggling with the limitations of an existing office set up or are about to move to new premises, ask yourself if you have worked through the logical steps. This guide identifies a series of office design guidelines, to help you with your next project. 

What is office design?

Office design not only covers the physical elements of a workspace such as office furniture, layout and infrastructure, but also the emotional connection to the office space and employee’s well-being. Combining the physical and psychological elements into office design provides a well thought out space that offers a positive working environment.  

How to design an office space 

If you’ve decided you want to redesign your office, the next step is working out how to design an office space that considers all the requirements for a functional and practical modern-day workspace.

Meridian Interiors offers some insight and advice into how to design an office space that works for your business. 

Rethink your space

This is your chance to be practical, but also creative. Go back to basics. Ignore how your office is set up now and look at the basic square footage available to you. Then think ‘out of the box’.

Look at the ceiling height… Could you accommodate a mezzanine level for storage or extra office space? Or could you take down partitioning and/or remove a corridor to create a larger open-plan area?

space plan

Define separate work areas

Beyond the obvious office space – open plan and individual offices – consider meeting rooms or meeting areas, reception and visitor seating, the server room, tea points/kitchens, WCs (and disabled WCs) and any recreational areas you may need.

Create your ‘wish list’ – you can always pare it back later, but with a bit of reconfiguration, you may find there’s a way to deliver every element within the space available to you.

Consider employee needs

The general guidance for the average square footage per person in an office is 150 square feet – this is considered the space needed for any individual to work comfortably. However, if space allows, this can extend to 250 square feet.

Beyond this, other factors to consider when space planning are such elements as desk size, office storage, power supply availability, data cabling, and space for walkways/stairways.

Futureproof your office space

As far as space planning for the future goes, you need flexibility first and foremost.

Could you fit in another 10 office workstations if you needed to – with their associated storage requirements and access to a power supply?

Case Study – (View our solution for client Airdri.)

Do you have the flexibility to quickly re-define spaces, turning a spare meeting area or photocopier room into additional office space for example? Freestanding acoustic screens may be one easy way to achieve this.

These possibilities need to be factored in.

cad visualisation

How to design a small office space

Having plenty of space within a workplace is not always a given, for reasons like the constraints of working in cities with high rental values or an expanding workforce. Some companies, therefore, find themselves looking for ways in which to design a small office space.   

Small corporate office interior design can focus on the concepts below, which allow companies to get the best from the space they have available.

Agile Working

As well as the physical elements to office design, utilising a concept such as ‘agile working’ can be beneficial for companies with small offices. Agile working is described by the  Association for Project Management as “a framework and a working mind-set” that helps respond to changing requirements. Check this report out for more information.

Hot Desking

A familiar term within offices, hot desking is when a desk can be used by any employee on a different day depending on work schedules. This can be an effective way of working in workspaces with limited space. Hot desking would be particularly affective for office using a flexible working approach, with an office/ working from home split.

Desk Layout

Seating staff in desk pairs or quads can be a better use of space than separated desks. Desk layout can have an incredible impact on the space, layout and feel of an office. Consider your wisely and try different layouts, to make sure you’ve found one that suits the space well. Ideally it would allow for social working, while at the same time having clearly defined separate workspaces when needed.

Furniture

Using furniture as a partitioning solution to zone areas within an office adds options for multipurpose storage but also to make spaces more adaptable. Furniture is easy to move, and it doesn’t stop there, as you can select a finish and fabric design to your liking to ensure everything is on-brand. Whether you’re looking for something bright and poppy, or sleek and sophisticated, the furniture style you choose can hugely impact your office space. Be sure that your furniture choices fit in with the overall aesthetic so you make the most of your office refurbishment.

For more about office design and our office refurbishment services, explore our website, or head to our blog for the latest tips and advice on office design and refurbishment.  

How to design an office layout

Thinking about functionality is key, when designing an office layout. A workspace must ‘work’ effectively. Consider the items below when developing your next corporate office interior design.

  • Establish a flow through the space, so it is easy to navigate, with teams that work together being in proximity to each other.
  • Acoustics must be considered, to ensure staff are given a decent working environment.
  • Use natural light where possible to illuminate the space, placing glazed partitioning in darker areas, to allow light to travel through the space.
  • Explore different functional areas – meeting rooms, zoom rooms, break out spaces, quiet zones…
  • Use the layout to reflect your type of business through the type of reception area you provide, how areas are utilised, the types of furniture used…
  • A relatively new trend is to bring the outside in, following research identifying its benefits. Companies are starting to consider features like living walls in their office spaces.

Top Tip: Check out our Blog – How to Design a Productive Office Environment

How to design an office interior

Carefully considering design elements, when planning your interior office design, is time well spent. Below are a few things to discuss and incorporate in your planning phase.

Colour Palette and Branding

When it comes to the design, this is where you can have some fun! Thinking about the colour scheme in an office is probably more important than we think. It is the first thing that people notice upon entry and can tell staff and visitors alike a lot about your brand ethos, which explains why many companies opt to use their brand colours within their offices.

Furniture

Providing a variety of furniture options throughout a space can not only improve a space’s functionality, but also add to the aesthetics of a workplace.

Nature

Bringing the outside in is a modern trend that more and more workspaces are starting to adopt. Incorporating green or living walls into the office or simply adding well-placed pot plants can help the space feel more welcoming and offer a more relaxed environment. Research is increasing in this area as its popularity increases.

Style

Choosing the overall style of a space, whether it is a New York loft look, clean and clinical, natural and relaxed, industrial etc, can help to reflect a company’s brand and let staff know how they should use the space.

How to design the ultimate home office

Designing a home office is a different challenge, as often home spaces are not initially designed to be used for office space. With a forward-thinking approach to flexible working now including a working from home split, below are a few tips to help bring your home office to life.

Space Saving Ideas

Make use of the height within the room of your home office. Maximise on the space available for storage and consider how this space can be used. Desks with build in storage are a good idea, and a bookcase can provide the perfect spot for stationery, files, or books.

Making a Space Feel Bigger

Another consideration for home offices is maximising and optimising the space to make it feel and appear bigger. For this, we recommend:

  • Using a plain and simple colour palette
  • Using furniture that is the right size for the space
  • Choose blinds, as opposed to curtains, which can open up the space considerably  

Comfort

Although it is important for your office to feel like a place of work, so you can differentiate it from the rest of your house, it still needs to be comfortable. Add a few simple accessories, that sit alongside your colour palette and include plants and artwork to the walls to reflect your own personal style and make your home office a place you enjoy working in.

Meridian Interiors Limited have experienced office design who work with commercial clients to help create offices that give your people everything they need to succeed.

Contact the team at Meridian Interiors on 0333 3448 772 to find out more, or discover more about our office design services.

Open Office vs Closed Office Space – A Short Guide

Employers choose different office layouts dependant on a variety of factors – What is the function of the space? What do you want your space to portray? Do you want a collaborative environment or an independent office space?

As there is no simple one-size-fits-all solution we have a comprised a short guide that looks at the following:

  • What is an open plan office?
  • How to reduce noise in open-plan office?
  • Why open plan offices are good?
  • Disadvantages of open plan office
  • Open plan vs closed plan office

 Open Office

What is an Open Plan Office?

 An open-plan office space in simplistic terms refers to the use of large open areas to minimize the use of small, enclosed office rooms. Open offices originally pioneered in the 1950s have regained their popularity as the chosen layout for many businesses for a variety of reasons including;

  • A flexible approach for working between departments, as there are no physical barriers.
  • Ease of collaboration between colleagues.
  • Layout flexibility to accommodate company growth.
  • Cost-Effective, as no partitioning, separate heating or A/C is required.
  • Provide a community, with all staff feeling like they are working towards the same goal.

Why open plan offices are good?

As open plan office layouts are incredibly common, chances are, at some point in your career you have worked or will work in one.

As with all types of layout, open plan offices have both positive and negative attributes but your viewpoint on these probably comes down to the type of workspace you thrive in.

Employers tend to opt for an open space layout as these designs can minimize various costs within the office, such as reduced construction fees, the ability to squeeze more people into less square footage and fewer cubicle furniture pieces to purchase. This cost element is mainly geared towards the company overheads and not what is best for an employee.

However, a lot of businesses believe that an open space office can create a greater company culture, can encourage communication between employees – consequently improving interpersonal relationships and can contribute to creating a community atmosphere. This, I would like to think, has more of a bearing on a company’s decision.

The type of industry you work in will also influence whether you work in an open plan office, because as this type of layout is thought to encourage collaboration, teamwork and creativity, they have gained recognition as a favourable layout for companies that operate from employee participation and innovation, such as advertising agencies, graphic design companies, journalism newsrooms and marketing agencies.

Having said that, with more recent developments in technology, whether virtual meetings using Zoom or GoToMeeting, enterprise social media like Slack or MS Teams, do we need to be working alongside each other in an open space at all?

As employees have become more used to working from home, in their own environment, coupled with developments in technology, how people work has probably changed dramatically during the past year and I believe we will start to see more flexible and multi-functional areas.

Disadvantages of open plan office

Though open plan office layouts are of high demand and of favour for many, the open office concept has received backlash and disapproval from businesses that require quiet working areas, confidentiality and concentration, such as accounting firms, financial planning agencies and law firms.

Commonly, open layouts can be noisy, chaotic and lacking strict organisation which can impact employee productivity and well-being by increasing stress levels.

 Using space planning experts to create an open plan office design can help to alleviate these elements, as they can draw upon experience to use materials with acoustic properties, zone areas affectively, use the correct furniture for space… the list goes on.

How to reduce noise in open plan office

As I have identified, one of the main disadvantages of open plan office design is that they can be noisy environments to work in. Whilst some people may enjoy this environment, it is not for everyone and most people at some point during their working day need to work in a quieter space.

If your workplace is large enough, creating separate quiet rooms for private working, making phone calls or having a one-to-one meeting is an ideal solution and creating a more multi-functional office appears to be an expanding trend.

For those companies who do not enjoy such large offices, there are a few sound masking solutions that can be used. Tangible solutions such as acoustic screens and panels, strategically placed furniture and locating certain teams next to each can all help. Other solutions are cultural changes that can be made, like not using speakerphones, turning down ringer volumes on phones, holding impromptu meetings is an isolated area etc.

Open plan vs closed plan office

One of the leading questions you may be faced with when planning and designing your office space is open or closed?

The term closed office, or otherwise known as enclosed refers to an office layout that is centred around individual working spaces for individual employees using panels and cubicles. Closed offices have come along way through the decades, from the adoption of what can be described as the ‘cubicle farms’ which broke through office trends in the 1980s to the contemporary, acoustically sound and comfortable spaces that are used today.

Closed offices encourage concentration and focus as commonly they are distraction-free environments that reduce noise and bustle, which may reduce productivity. These private spaces also allow employees the freedom to personalise their desk space, to one that is comfortable and a reflection of their ethics.

Enclosed spaces state a hierarchy system, which may promote healthy competition between employees which is fundamental in company growth. If the closed office layout includes different spaces for different level employees – such as corner offices; this can give employees motivation and something to work too. Thought statistics suggest that employees have increased well-being and productivity in closed office spaces, employers do not necessarily favour enclosed office layouts.

With employees working in confinement and privacy, it is hard for business owners to supervise whether workers are wasting time or working to their full capacity.

For businesses that require teamwork and collaboration – closed office spaces are not ideal. Employees working in this environment tend to reach colleagues via email or chats rather than communicating face to face – which can negatively impact innovation and inspiration.

If you are looking to plan your own office space, whether open or closed, Meridian Interiors are well-placed to design a comprehensive office to suit your requirements, bringing your ideas to life.

You can find out more about our office design services here, or give us a call today on 0333 3448 772 to talk to a member of our team.

Want to Plan Your Ideal Office?

Discover the secrets to mastering space and positioning from office experts, Meridian Interiors Ltd

Taking over new office space can be a daunting prospect. There are many variables that must be accounted for properly to create a productive and enjoyable atmosphere.

How will light from the windows impact workers sitting at screens? What design elements are necessary to evolve your offices from a bland and sterile enclave into a bustling haven of imagination and activity? And of course, will movement throughout the office create a disruption or a smooth foot flow?

space plan

Find a satisfactory office design plan and layout and you will enjoy many clear advantages. Improved morale, increased efficiency and a more pleasant environment for meetings with suppliers and clients will all drive your company growth.

Effective planning is always the first step when it comes to creating a fully functional and aesthetically pleasing office environment. Careful consideration of your needs, requirements, essential functions and worker constraints should form the basis of your approach. Before you even start thinking about design, try to recognise key factors.

For instance, if your salespeople are often noisy, making lots of loud calls whilst generating energy and activity, then it would be advisable not to position this department next to a focused legal or accounting team, who have to meticulously construct detailed in-depth reports and documents. Efficiency should always hold the premier position in your planning hierarchy.

You should then consider the following key areas when planning a new office for your business:

Location

Think carefully about how your employees will access your new premises. Is it worth choosing a desirable city centre office if there is no available parking? With many commercial centres now making it tough on traffic, do you want personnel to arrive in a bad mood due to tailbacks and jams, especially in winter? Purchasing or renting a property on a business park may not have the prestige of those old offices, but this must be balanced against accessibility.

Budget

Again, carefully reviewing the needs of your business will help you understand how to best spend your budget. Do you require good internet and mobile phone access? Are phone lines and internet provision included in the arrangement or will you have to install these through the business, taking a considerable amount of money and time to arrange. Ensure that you have an absolute understanding of what you are buying.

Space Management

One of the vital elements in the success of any office environment is a well thought out layout design. Utilise space saving furniture together with movement dynamics to position each part of your office intelligently, allowing employees to communicate and work together.

Be careful not to make the error of underestimating the space needed for your staff. In London, the respected rule is that every person should have around 100 square feet of space. Often this is broken down into 50 square feet of desk space and then 50 square feet of breakout rooms, toilets and kitchens. Remember that happy people are productive people.

Remember that a successful business will grow. Plan and accommodate for your future alongside your present and allocate areas of the office for new starters, departments or even entirely new supporting services. Combine prudent thinking with optimistic thinking giving you a contingency should you land a substantial order or contract.

Decorative Statements

Much like your marketing materials, business cards and websites, your office’s internal environment should be a reflection of your brand. Use corporate and business colour-schemes to outline carpets, wall tones and furniture. Introduce your brand values in frames pictures in offices and meeting areas to underline your ethos to customers.

Once you have established a clear plan for the large-scale planning ideas, it is important to focus in on creating the elements necessary to drive efficiency and function within the business.

Breakout Areas

From lounges and TV areas through to kitchens and more functional spaces, employees will need somewhere at work where they can disconnect from activity and recover their concentration levels.

Many businesses now offer facilities that are in line with their company image. Fun and friendly marketing agencies have computer games and ping pong tables whilst more stately businesses such as accountants use coffee machines, sofas and TVs tuned into Sky News. With psychologists claiming that a break every 50-90 minutes is essential for productivity – can you afford not to plan for relaxation areas in your layout?

Storage

Adequate storage is a necessity for any business. Keeping desks free from clutter and ensuring that important supplies are on hand will help aid productivity. Think about how employees might additionally need to use storage. If you have a business with warehousing or machine shops, it could be a good idea to provide employees with lockable cabinet style storage on an individual basis.

Equally if your business has accrued a large amount of furniture that you have earmarked for use in a future expansion, then why not allocate a whole room for its storage, which can be converted into usable office space later?

Meeting Rooms

What better way to impress your prospective and existing clients that with a quality meeting room? With frosted or embossed glass and air-conditioning, it is possible to create a formal, high class venue, perfect for impressing people. Consider two different types of meeting room too. There’s always room for having a separate space from the office floor for employee matters, whilst retaining other premium areas for clients.

Remember that planning your office is the first step in a larger picture of success. Make careful and well-thought out choices to build a comfortable atmosphere for your staff whilst still giving your operating centre the professional profile required to win business.

Whether you want further information, or would like to discuss any refurbishments project’s you may have – do not hesitate to contact Meridian Interiors!

How to Choose the Right Design and Fit Out Partner

When the time comes to choose a fit-out partner for your office refurbishment or redevelopment project, where do you start?

If you type the words ‘design and fit-out company in the UK’ into Google, you’ll have more than 75 million hits in less than a second. So when the time comes to choose a fit-out partner for your own office refurbishment or redevelopment project, where do you start? Meridian Interiors has this advice for companies that want to source the right partner every time.

No matter how small or vast the project in question, when you are choosing a fit-out partner you will need to know the answers to three basic but critically important questions.

Can they do it?

The first thing to consider is the company’s capability and expertise. Are they big enough to cope? Do they have the resources in place to tackle any particular technical challenges?

Will they do it well?

If they could undertake your project in theory, how might they perform in practice? Do they have the financial and corporate integrity required to complete the job to the right standard, on time and to the agreed budget?

Can I trust them?

In the fit-out world, mistakes can be very costly. If the answers to 1) and 2) are yes and yes, it’s time to make doubly sure by conducting a thorough check of the company’s credentials.

Here’s our 7 Step Guide to check you’re choosing the right partner:

1. Define your requirements

Firstly – what do you want your fit-out partner to do?

Are you looking for a simple refurbishment of your current premises, or a complete redesign? Is this for a small office, or an entire building? Do you need more space? And if so, does that space need new plumbing, heating, air conditioning, telecoms, IT? Will you need to relocate a few people, or a few hundred people, while the work is carried out? Once you have outlined the scope of your project you are ready to begin the hunt for the perfect fit-out partner.

2. Draw up a long list

If you’re starting from scratch, with no past suppliers to call or recommendations to explore, a quick Internet search should identify dozens of fit-out companies that operate in your area, with websites testifying to their prowess and experience. Reviewing and comparing their claims and client lists will give you a rough idea whether they could tackle a project like yours. Given that you will need to investigate each one of the companies on your long list in more depth, it is worth limiting your efforts to five or six that seem to meet your requirements best – on paper at least.

Once you have a long list prepared, start looking into each company a bit further and reducing your selection to a shortlist of three or four that you would like to meet face to face.

3. Who and how will you decide

Before you call the different companies in to pitch for your business, decide up front how you will evaluate the contenders.

Consider every angle: There will be many different factors to consider, so your interview panel or steering committee must have the ability to question the presenters on all aspects of the job. This includes the design and planning, cost, timelines, IT requirements, infrastructure changes, project management and impact on the day-to-day business.

Seek independent advice: If you don’t have this level of know-how in house, you can recruit a third party consultant to help you with the selection process at the very least. (if your project is substantial you may be wise to employ an independent project manager too).

Don’t repent at leisure: Even if one company seems to stand out from the start, don’t rush in to making a commitment as an easy win may cause the successful party to become complacent. The harder a company has to work for your business, the more they will value it.

4. Assess their capability & expertise

Each design and fit out company will send along a ‘pitch team’ to bid for your business. The make-up of the team will tell you a lot about the company and how it’s organised. For example, most teams will include a project leader and a senior designer and possibly a pre-construction manager. Other various experts may also be brought along to explain how they would manage some of the technical aspects of the project (IT specialists, for example).

The team will work together to excite your interest with striking representations of their ideas for your project with 3D visuals. Don’t get swept away by the design alone – it’s your job to dig deeper and question how this work will be carried out, when, and by whom.

Make sure you ask:

  • Will the pitch team be involved in delivering the project?
  • Have they worked together on other projects?
  • Will they be using freelancers or third party consultants at any stage? If so, which services are they outsourcing? How will they manage the project to ensure your business remains a priority to everyone involved?
  • Are they pitching for other business that will run alongside your project? Could your timeframes be compromised as a result?
  • Can they guarantee the designs you are being shown are priced up and within your budget? Has anything been slipped in for added impact?
  • Will the people who have prepared the specification and costs you are seeing be the ones managing the build phase?
  • Would they arrange for you to see one of their finished projects, or one they have in progress?

5. Do the due diligence

Even the smallest office fit-out will involve a significant sum of money, so you need to be sure that your investment is safe. Don’t take their word for it. Check for yourself that any company you may choose to appoint is financially stable.

Find out:

  • Is the company’s turnover and cash position sufficient to support the size of the project?
  • Are they creditworthy and able to negotiate better prices (for materials, furniture etc) on your behalf?
  • Do they have appropriate insurance in place and at a suitable level for your project (employers liability insurance, public and product liability insurance, contracts all risk insurance)?
  • Do they have an excellent health and safety record?
  • Do they manage all aspects of their work in an environmentally sustainable way – or will your own green credentials be at risk if you appoint them?
  • Would they agree to a financial penalty for late completion, or take out a performance bond as a guarantee that they will deliver on their promise?

6. Check credentials

Before you appoint any company to work for you, look and see how well they have done for others. The pitch presentation is likely to include photos of completed projects and quotes from happy customers. So ask to speak to a few of the customers directly. It’s the best way to find out what went on behind the scenes – and how they dealt with any challenges they faced along the way.

Look for:

  • Names you recognise and repeat customers on their client list.
  • Any recognised accreditations that indicate how they manage their business, such as the ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management mark, or BREEAM® eco-friendly compliance.
  • Construction or design related awards or nominations for past work.

7. Draw up the contract

You’ve chosen a fit-out company based on what you believe they can deliver. Now it’s time to put it in writing.

  • Make sure all of your expectations are documented along with the timeframes and costs involved.
  • Add in the penalties they can expect to incur should any aspect of the project fall below the stated standards.
  • Ask them to sign on the bottom line!

Great, you’ve just appointed your perfect fit-out partner and can look forward to the finished result.

Relocation, Relocation: Your Office Move Checklist

Office Relocation

Premises secured. Lease signed. But there’s no time to breathe a sigh of relief – not just yet at any rate.

Now there’s just the rest of it to think about. There’s the building work, the space to plan, the air conditioning and lighting to review, the IT requirements and cabling, the décor, the office furniture – not to mention how to manage ‘business as usual’ through the move…

So, here’s our office move checklist to help get you started or just to flag a few things you may not have considered.

Health and Safety

You may not have heard of the Construction and Design Management Regulations 2015 – the updated Regulations only came into force in April 2015 – but they require commercial clients to have a significant involvement in the running of any office refurbishment project, particularly the health & safety aspects.

And that’s why this is the first heading on our ‘office move checklist’… You’ll need to take into consideration these requirements at the very start of your project planning!

Whatever your size of project, you’ll need to decide how money, time and resources are to be allocated, to ensure that all aspects of health and safety are considered. The principal designer for the project will assist you in planning the safe design of the project.

Building regs

You may not be planning significant changes to the workspace in your new building but, if you are, then building regulations, planning permission, even an asbestos R&D survey, may all be items on the list for consideration – and all will impact in terms of the timeline for your office relocation.

Space planning

And, do you have a blue print of the layout of your new building? Or – if you are opting for a complete refurbishment – do you have a space plan or 3D visuals from your refurbishment/office design company to help you explore different layout options?

Think about the size of open-plan office space you’ll need. As well as the individual offices, meeting rooms, boardroom, reception and visitor space, there are the WC and kitchen facilities to consider… and you may want to allow for a more informal breakout space or office bistro/canteen area for your staff.

And plan for the future. You may not need those 5 or 10 extra desks right now, but you may need them in a year’s time.

Space Planning

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency

Lighting and temperature control are two central considerations in any office design/refurbishment project – as they impact both energy efficiency as well as the comfort/wellbeing of office staff. Specific temperature and humidity guidelines have to be met for all offices and will, of course, be influenced by the direction the building faces and existing/planned windows.

Air conditioning, ventilation, thermal insulation, natural light versus LED lighting requirements – should all be considered.

You could also look for advice from an ISO 14001 contractor with a proven commitment to minimising environmental impact in any office refurbishment.

IT requirements

Have you allowed for a server room, or thought about the photocopier and printer locations? Are you intending video conferencing facilities in your executive suite, or touchscreen control systems for your meeting rooms?

And, of course, there are the power requirements of individual workstations and your reception counter – all requiring cabling for phones, PCs and monitors. As well as fire alarms and power sockets in any kitchen area.

Once you have all the elements tied down, you – or your contractor – can start to think about your network cabling needs , as well as floor boxes and power sockets.

Office Branding

Office relocations are a significant investment whatever your size of business, and you will want to make your mark on your new environment and effectively communicate your branding and brand ethos throughout the space.

Think about how best to ‘own your space’. Where can you use the company brand colours or logo? A manifestation on glass partitioning for your boardroom; company colours within your reception, visitor seating area or within wall graphics; and perhaps using your primary or secondary brand colour for office chairs or desk-mounted screens on the office desks?

Furniture and storage

Whether you are keeping your existing office furniture and storage, or buying new, you’ll want to plan the layout and future expansion needs to maximise every square foot within your new office. Office furniture may be added to or replaced – but it can also be designed bespoke to meet a specific need – bespoke standing meeting tables are increasingly popular for example.

But if you are buying new, think long term and get advice on the best mix of quality versus value. And check the warranty: ‘buy cheap and buy twice’ is an established adage for a reason.

The office move – your final checklist

  • Agreeing an office move date that will mean minimal disruption – done.
  • Planning meeting with removal company – done.
  • Planning meeting with IT/telecoms providers – done.
  • Existing office furniture/IT equipment labelled ready for move – done.
  • New office furniture ordered and scheduled for delivery to new premises – done.
  • Office refurbishment completed and snagging signed off – done.
  • Crates arrived for packing – done.
  • Staff briefed on the move – done.
  • Parking options checked and briefed to staff and removal company – done.
  • Crates packed – done.
  • Office move.
  • Now you can breathe a sigh of relief!

Office Fit Out Companies Bring Your Ideas to Life

Many people think when employing office fit out companies to refurbish their new or existing offices, that they are limited to the designs on show in the office fit out companies portfolio. However, this is simply not the case!

Meridian Interiors have your visions at heart, and are committed to creating the office look envisioned by you. This means that you can get the designs that you want, with as little compromise as possible.

Office fit out companies help you stand out

Designing your bespoke office means you can stand out above the rest by creating your own individual image. This is essential in competitive markets as it makes your company memorable, something which is evidently important for attracting customers/clients. For existing customers/clients, standing out in the crowd allows you to stay in the forefront of their mind – making them more likely to continue business with you.

bespoke office fit out companies

Reflecting values

Another important thing to remember when trying to attract and maintain customers/clients, is how your image reflects your company values. Creative ideas expressed in bespoke offices allow you to show your company image, and convey what it is you stand for to your customers/clients. The way you look can be incredibly important to potential customers/clients when choosing which company to opt for as they will likely make judgements and choices based on whether your image reflects their needs and desires. Additionally, having an office which reflects your company as a whole is important as a consistent image makes your company look more professional.

Whether you want to adapt designs already brought to life by office fit out companies, or whether you want to use your own ideas – your needs come out on top. Office fit out companies can create designs in all different kinds of shapes, sizes and colours. With a huge array of options in regards to office partitioning, lighting, seating, carpets and paints there’s a virtually unlimited number of combinations to create your own bespoke idea.

Why not look at previous fit outs for ideas and use them to inspire your own individual designs? Not only will this provide you with inspiration but it will also give you a good idea of what works best in real life offices.

For more information on what office fit out companies can do for your bespoke ideas please contact Meridian Interiors.