Category: Space Planning

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.

February 18, 2016 by Sarah Glover 0 Comments

What are the Golden Rules of Office Design?

Whether you are struggling with the limitations of an existing office set up or are about to move to new premises, ask yourself – or your office design team – if you have worked through all of these ‘golden rules’.

1) 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

2) Define the areas needed for different activities

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.

3) Plan for now

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

4) And plan for the future

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? (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? Free standing acoustic screens may be one easy way to achieve this.

These possibilities need to be factored in.

cad visualisation

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.