The Ultimate Guide for 2021
An office move or workplace refurbishment can be equally as stressful as moving home, and that’s a fact! A workplace consultant is there to help as a guide. They will help take some of the pressure off your quite often already stretched team and ensure your project concept meets every health and safety regulation, guaranteeing no corners are cut or no unwanted or unnecessary costs are involved.
Experienced workplace consultants are highly skilled and will guide you through every step of any project, ensuring the workspace environment is space designed to maximise every inch, whilst managing every aspect of your office move or relocation, so you can focus on doing exactly what you do best.
With decades of experience in project managing every style of transformation, we understand the importance of having a successful workplace strategy in place to ensure your business can continue to run seamlessly. In our blog, we give a brief outline of the benefits of engaging a workplace consultant and introduce the basic service levels you can expect alongside added value services that can help improve productivity and take the stress out of any upcoming project. We have also included some common office furniture design problems and how to overcome them.
Introduction – why and when!
A professional workplace design consultant will listen to your every requirement and will help establish exactly what you want to achieve from your new office space and show you ways you can turn your visions into reality.
But when is the best time to introduce workplace consultancy? In our experience, the most common reason why clients partner with consultants is when there is a noticeable change in their business. The investment in expansion or transforming your workspace speaks volumes for your brand, business progression and quite importantly it will encourage employee attraction and retention.
Good consultants (like ours!) will be able to offer a good practical range of products and services, help analyse your current workspace and advise on interior design that fits your business. For extra confidence, ask to see references, case studies or visit recently refurbished sites.
Concept & Ideas
From the very first discussion, our design consultants will be looking at ways they can implement your workplace routines and ambitions, evaluating every space and offering knowledgeable advice and suggestions to help improve and create an inspirational solution for all of the team.
By working in this way and analysing your business in detail, we can assist with offering the best value solutions and help transition your organisation into new ways of working that can include agile and flexible working, open-plan layouts, hot-desking or ergonomic solutions.
There will be many considerations when creating your new office space, here are just a few indicators to trigger the initial thought process…
Would you like to improve collaboration?
Would you like to offer flexible working conditions?
Would you like to introduce an open-plan agile environment?
Would you like to make your office more welcoming?
Would you like to accommodate future growth?
Would you like to strengthen your brand image and culture?
Would you like to lower your energy consumption and carbon footprint?
Would you like to introduce a paperless office?
Space Planning & Design
Whether you are buying brand spanking new furniture or merging new purchases with existing ranges, it’s important to consider the amount of space that you have. Our consultants will measure every inch of your workspace and create innovative designs so you can see exactly how your new area will look and function, whilst ensuring together we create a space that is productive and comfortable for your team.
Using the latest technology, our team specialise in producing accurate scaled plans, 3D drawings, computer-rendered visuals, and mood boards to bring your ideas to life focusing on interior design that includes materials, colours, finishes, fittings, and artwork.
Whist discussing your aspirations and creating inspirational plans, our team will make allowances for future corporate growth whilst complying with all regulations and guidelines.
When it comes to updating workspaces, you need a trusted consultant who holds a host of recognised accreditations and associations, and who have great attention to detail.
Our consultants can provide a complete turnkey solution offering knowledgeable advice and a vast range of interior solutions including partitioning, flooring, mezzanines, ceilings, air conditioning, plumbing, decoration, power and data services as well as taking care of Health and Safety requirements.
Our team will develop a tailored work programme and as part of our complete project management service we will:
- Estimate timescales and implement target milestones
- Complete risk assessments and method statements
- Produce a detailed proposal and design plan
- Monitor progress and liaise with the project team
- Manage and monitor the budget
- Attend all project meetings
- Help with the selection of office furniture and equipment
Furnishing your workspace
Furnishing offices with inspiration is our speciality. With so much of our working week being spent at our desks, it’s important to remember your office furniture is an important investment in your business’s growth.
A good consultant will have access to a wide infrastructure of designers and manufacturers and will be able to offer quality office furniture which meets your expectations and budgetary requirements. By involving a consultant, you will also ensure you don’t overorder and avoid the cluttered look, only buying furniture that ultimately works for your space.
Office Furniture – The office furniture you chose will reflect your brand and will be one of the first things your clients notice when visiting your premises. Little touches like your choice of fabrics and finishes which could incorporate your brand will ensure your company is providing a good impression, not only for the team but potential clients as well.
When looking for office furniture including your staple requirements of desks, seating and storage, its good practice to consider the quality as well as the design features to help you make the most out of the space that you have. For a professional appearance, we would also recommend you standardise on ranges and colours to ensure your business has a uniform effect throughout.
Welcome and reception areas – Your office reception area is the first chance to impress clients visiting your premises, so it’s vital it is designed to create the wow factor for all visitors and employees entering the area.
When considering interior design, your business reception should be welcoming, warm and inspiring. If you are thinking of incorporating your brand colours into this area your consultant will try out different ideas to show either furniture to match your brand, or choosing to include brighter bolder colours as accents rather than the main feature, and may include cushions, screens, acoustic wall mounts, artwork, operator chairs, tables, and accessories.
Breakout spaces – A breakout space provides employees with a haven away from their busy desks to collaborate, socialise and network. This type of social space is being introduced more and more into modern offices, especially open-plan designs with many recent surveys reporting these areas encourage creativity and boast better wellbeing within many organisations.
Breakout spaces don’t just belong in offices; breakout furniture is a great addition to teaching and learning spaces, as they can bring effective learning environments outside of the traditional classroom.
The location of your breakout space will require some thought, central spaces may cause disruption to others who are working at their desks. Reception areas will not always provide the privacy you may need for private meetings or conversations, and because you are creating an additional, more relaxed workspace this area shouldn’t be located near conference suites or where general noise could become an issue.
Breakout furniture includes a broad range of soft seating, pods, booths, and tables in various sizes, heights, and shapes. Your consultant will be able to advise clever furniture to suit your space, including acoustic absorption options.
Meeting, Conference and Training Rooms – Your boardroom or meeting room area is another integral part of your business. It’s the key place for business decisions, strategic planning and even internal training. Furnished well, your meeting space will create a lasting impression for clients, employees, and interviewees.
At COI, we provide a variety of tables in a selection of shapes including rectangular, circular, boat, elliptical and square designs with a variety of leg frames that can include trumpet and pedestal bases, traditional legs, arrowhead bases and loop frames, available in wood, aluminium or steel with silver, white, polished and chrome finishes. The choices are endless whether you’re looking for a traditional, contemporary, executive, veneer, glass or a combination of finishes, we’re sure we’ve got the perfect table for every office!
Once you’ve decided on the style of the table, the same consideration should be given to the style of the seating. Here are some of our tips to help with your meeting room chair selection:
- Mesh back chairs provide a modern and comfortable style.
- Leather chairs create a formal ambience.
- Chrome or silver frame chairs with cantilever or 4 legs compliment a table with a trumpet or pedestal base.
- Wooden framed chairs are perfect for a traditional meeting room style.
Office kitchen areas and tea points – Whilst planning your office design and furniture requirements, don’t forget to discuss your kitchen and tea point areas with your workplace consultant. Offices and workspaces that provide a facility away from the desk to mingle with the team or simply just to take a peaceful break helps encourage better workplace wellbeing. The size of this space doesn’t matter, what is important is the communal area should be welcoming and have the facility to make your team a well-earned tea or coffee. Our workplace consultants can assist with kitchen benching, white goods, tables, chairs, and stools.
Our commitment to quality and communication ensures your project is in safe hands, here are a few more of our best value services that can be tailored as part of our project management service.
Acoustic analysis – It’s always worth discussing ‘noise’ with your workplace consultant. Cleverly placed acoustic panels and screens are proven to provide positive health benefits for employees working in open-plan or busy environments.
Here at Combined Office Interiors, we can provide detailed onsite acoustic surveys and can confidently make recommendations using some of the UK’s market-leading acoustic manufacturers.
Storage, filing and archiving surveys – By visiting your business our workplace consultants can complete a detailed filing site survey to identify your exact storage needs, speaking with key members of your team to ensure we accommodate every filing requirement.
After completing a full analysis, we will prepare space designs and a proposal for your approval.
Office Move Management – Our workspace consultants will establish your move requirements and provide a full proposal including an overview of timelines and resources needed including crates, trolleys and packing materials.
To ensure your office move goes smoothly, we have carefully prepared a management programme and checklist, and as experienced space designers, we can also take care of the new layout designs.
DSE Assessments – Did you know you have an obligation to complete DSE assessment reviews in the workplace? These assessments are often overlooked, but to comply with Health and Safety display screen legislations, you will need to ensure your employees have received adequate training and have been audited with information from your assessment, all recorded on an up-to-date risk assessment.
As a DSE Provider, our consultants can provide complimentary workstation and seating assessments either at your workplace on in one of our showrooms, ensuring the desk and chair you’re using (or would like to use) meets your individual requirements, as well as advising from our extensive range of ergonomic furniture.
By visiting one of our welcoming showrooms in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk or Leicestershire you can gain a great sense of quality, style, and size of products, allowing you to make a well-informed decision before purchasing. But don’t worry, if you are not local to one of our three COI showrooms, we can also provide exclusive use of our partner manufacturers’ showrooms in locations throughout the UK.
Delivery & Installation – Once our workspace consultants have listened to your ideas, designed inspirational workspaces and selected furniture to improve productivity and inspiration, now it’s time to manage the delivery and installation.
Our warehouse is based in Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire but we deliver nationwide on a day and time that suits your business.
Upon arriving on-site, all furniture is carefully unpacked and assembled, placed into the position for use as per the agreed floor layout. All furniture is cleaned and ready for use, we even remove all packaging and arrange suitable recycling.
Aftercare – Involvement from our workplace consultants doesn’t end once your furniture is in place. We pride ourselves on our high level of customer support and our continued drive to improve our customer experiences. In addition to all of our project managed services we provide the following aftercare services:
- Peace of mind warranty and guarantees
- Training and OEM Manuals
- Arranging removal of redundant furniture
- Supply and installation of products that may have been overlooked including plants, signage, artwork, noticeboards and desktop accessories
Common office design problems and how to overcome them…
So far in this blog, we have explored the benefits of working in partnership with an expert project manager to ensure the best workplace design for your business. However, in our experience, we have seen many companies tasking the designing and procurement to someone in-house who doesn’t necessarily appreciate the impact of good workplace design that incorporates the integration of modern technology solutions and non-restrictive furniture that supports good posture and modern collaborative working styles.
Workplace design is very much subject to trends, with the biggest in the last decade is agile working. Agile working provides flexibility giving employees options to work the way that suits them, including working at home facilities.
There are many other styles of office layouts that include open plan workspaces, cubicle style offices, co-working designs, and team-based formats. Whatever your business style, we’ve identified some common design mistakes with the steps you can take to overcome them:
Office Lighting – To create a more productive and healthier working environment, you most certainly will need to take into consideration your office lighting provisions. If your business wants to promote positive wellbeing, it’s worth considering that both daylight and artificial lighting has an influence on our bodies and minds.
Nothing beats the benefits of natural lighting, with studies showing employees working near windows are often more productive and have higher levels of alertness. If you’re lucky enough to have plenty of natural light sources, don’t overdress them cosmetically with blinds or film if it isn’t necessary. Alternatively, if your premises doesn’t have natural lighting as an option, investigate artificial daylight bulbs as these can often make an equally as pleasant working environment.
Inspirational designs – Ultimately the focus of workplace design is to create an environment that is fit for purpose. However, getting the general flow of the office to work can be quite tricky as each area will need consideration for team focus and activity-based working. To overcome the barriers and ensure the adoption of modern workplace strategies, talk to your team. Find out who they need to interact with, discuss with HR any work practices or culture requirements and ensure you encompass the business values including the selection of fabrics, colours, and themes.
Create a quieter office – We touched earlier in the blog about acoustic solutions. When considering your office design, it’s easy to neglect the requirement for sound-absorbing furniture and accessories.
Noise is one of the common complaints in open-plan spaces, with the effects often leading to employee frustration and lower productivity levels.
From office chairs to desktop screens, through to wall panels and ceiling baffles, there is an extensive range available on the market that your workplace consultant will be able to confidently recommend for your business.
Common office furniture procurement problems and how to overcome them…
Finding the perfect aesthetically designed office furniture can be a mind-blowing experience. Whether you’re flicking through catalogues or browsing online, there are hundreds to thousands of different ranges all at different levels of quality and investment.
If you’re in charge of sourcing the furniture for your workplace, here are three things to help with the procurement process:
- Don’t choose ‘looks’ over comfort…. A pretty chair might not necessarily offer good seating posture or ergonomic benefits.
- We always recommend working to an assigned budget; however, it is important to not choose price over quality. Office furniture needs to be robust, so ensuring you are buying good quality with good industry guarantees will ensure your new purchase will stand the test of time.
- Don’t buy furniture without a design plan. Chances are you will under or over order or buy furniture that doesn’t best fit the architecture of your workspace.
An easy way to ensure you don’t fall into any of the above procurement predicaments is to ensure you test the furniture before you buy it. Visit a good office furniture showroom, sit in the chairs and demo the desking to ensure your investment fits your requirements. (Visit one of our UK furniture showrooms, find out more here).
Common office furniture problems and how to overcome them…
Poorly designed office furniture – I’m sure it’s not a shock to read that poorly designed office furniture can be bad for business! Nobody wants a lawsuit because the stationery cupboard collapsed, or the chair back fell off. But it’s not just the physical structure you need to consider. Poorly designed office furniture and equipment that doesn’t support good posture can influence personal wellbeing.
Well planned offices with well-made furniture will result in happier and more productive workspaces. So, our advice is simple, don’t take a risk buying from an online outlet unless you know what you are buying meets all UK rules and legislations, alongside a product continuity and spare parts guarantee. Can your business afford to take a chance?
Is your office, disability-friendly? Whether you’re planning a new office layout or modernising your current facilities you have a legal obligation to meet the needs of any employee, ensuring you are actively promoting an environment that can be freely and safely accessed by everyone.
By ensuring your office is disability-friendly from the start, you are providing equal access to work opportunities that can be adapted to meet the nature of the employee’s disability.
There are good health and safety advice and useful FAQs on the HSE website. Our workplace consultants can also provide knowledgeable advice, assist with design plans and workplace adjustments, suitable office furniture and complete detailed DSE workstation assessments.
Correct set-up of office furniture – You can purchase the best-selling desk or chair on the market, but if it isn’t set up correctly you could end up with unnecessary back or neck pain, or worst-case scenarios, permanent spinal damage.
At COI, we love to share our knowledge, we can deliver workstation assessments and provide product training, we can even provide operation and maintenance manuals as appropriate.
Get started with your project
We hope you’ve enjoyed our blog and understand the great benefits of partnering with an experienced workspace and design consultant who can help you to discover a better-defined space.
To find out more and to see exactly how we can help, get in touch today. Our workplace consultants are full of knowledge and are happy to help every step of the way Tel: 01480 869001, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.