Open-access content Monday 29th June 2020
Avoid these five mistakes and your office design will positively affect your workforce and the company’s bottom line, says David Bricknell.
- Not assigning a budget
Budget informs the goals of a project and how they will be delivered. It’s easier to stretch a small budget and make it work from the start than it is to design the perfect office top to bottom and then have to make cuts.
Our company worked with a client to design an agile office space that could be adapted to accommodate its growing workforce. Knowing the client’s budget from day one, we prioritised design to meet their primary goals and did away with design aspects that the client considered less important.
Ask your designer to help set realistic goals based on your budget.
- Cutting corners on acoustics
It is tempting to try to ‘value engineer’ a redesign project by stripping back on what you might believe are ‘nice-to-haves’ rather than necessary expenditures. This is often the case with soundproofing.
Acoustics are often seen as an unnecessary investment – possibly because sound is more abstract than visual design and you cannot see how loud an environment will be in a 2D plan or 3D render.
In the past we have supported clients that have insisted on removing soundproofing materials built into the dividing walls between meeting rooms to save cash. The result was a series of beautiful meeting rooms that were rendered unusable if more than one was occupied at a time.
We had to fit the soundproofing material retroactively at greater expense than if we had included it at installation – the definition of a false economy.
- Penny-pinching seats
Cheap task chairs will hit your bottom line. Two task chairs may look the same in the catalogue, but there is a reason for the price disparity.
Humans are prone to bad backs. Our centre of gravity is at a single small joint that holds up our entire upper bodies, and the sedentary lifestyle of the modern Homo sapiens weakens the muscles that are supposed to stabilise that small joint. Therefore, a bad, cheap task chair choice that is rolled out across the office will increase absenteeism over time and cost you more in the long term.
A large organisation purchased cheap task chairs from overseas, a decision that a year down the line proved to be expensive. Employees complained of back, neck and shoulder aches, contributing to absenteeism. The organisation had to spend £30,000 on ergonomic seating.
- Not integrating tech
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted that modern businesses rely on technology and therefore, its integration within the workplace is of utmost importance.
Think ahead when it comes to tech. You might not need a videoconferencing system in your smaller meeting room right now, for example, but if you make sure there’s power and data available as part of an office refurbishment in all rooms, you have the option and agility to integrate it later.
If organisations future-proof their office spaces now, it will save them the increased cost of having to integrate technology down the line.
- Company branding in your colour scheme
We would advise against this; it is unnecessary and rarely works. Company logos and branding are designed for a specific purpose and have different goals and aims; the office décor needs to be designed independently.
One client with vibrant branding and a bold colour palette wanted to use it in its office space, a space intent on fostering calm, measured work, and employees’ health and wellbeing.
The hues would have caused distraction, stress and even headaches. We advised it to choose a colour palette that would complement its existing branding. Luckily, it listened but many insist on sticking with company branding – often to the detriment of their workforces. Design should support the company’s brand but not detract from the overall goals of the space.
David Bricknell is managing director of Dale Office Interiors