Five tips to help you find the right office space for your business

Your business has evolved. You need more space, or a better one. One that is truly fit for purpose. You think about what you need, do your calculations, sort a budget. You find a space. You hire a designer. You book the movers. Sorted! What could go wrong? Turns out, plenty!

Brought to you by our friends at Outline Design

If good process isn’t followed, you’ll likely end up with the wrong space for your needs, a pile of un-necessary stress and a move that results in unhappy staff. Productivity is compromised. Your people are unhappy, or worse, they leave. As a result your people never realise their potential. 

So how do you find the right space for your business?

1. Lay the foundations

The moment there is thinking that the business needs change, bring in the professionals – your Workspace Design Team. Workplace analysis is the first place to start. Engaging with your entire workforce, and potentially customers, will uncover what’s needed in the business to make it thrive, and help to navigate a future-proof path to change. 
Brand-centric design is a cornerstone to outstanding workspace design. Consideration of all your brand components, including early integration with your team (eg workspace brand workshops) will help ensure that your new space lives and breathes its ‘promise of value’, is unique, and will stand the test of time. 
Findings from this foundation ‘discovery’ work will describe the kind of space you need to be fit for purpose – and how your values and culture can be expressed in your workplace. Your Interior designer can now work with you and your real estate agent to find the right space. The designer can “test fit” (high level space plan) shortlisted spaces to ensure they’ll meet your needs, and help you visualise the space.

2. Choose a team based on 'fit'

 Factors like design style, experience and cost are of course important considerations in selecting a Workspace Design Team. Far more important though is cultural fit. If you don’t select a design team that connects with you, your business and your brand, you’re off to a tough start, and likely an unsatisfying finish.

“Over the last 25 years we’ve had countless clients come to us either part way through or after a project saying "their designer just doesn’t get us". The problem is they were typically selected based on either their impressive experience, the strength of their own brand or sometimes on price. While all these things are important, the single most important factor is cultural fit. For example, if you are a business proud of its honesty, integrity and customer service, select an interior design team based on these three factors, and you’ll have a lot better chance of getting an outstanding result.”  - Victoria Wilkes - Managing Director, Outline Design.

3. Ensure well rounded capability

Choose a team with all the skills you need. Workflow analysis, creative design, technical drawing skills and project management are crucial capabilities. Using proven tools, and processes to facilitate discussion and gather information, helps a business realise a successful space that can support sustainable improvements in workflow, productivity, creativity and staff wellbeing. Change Management capability ensures both the physical and emotional process of moving is seamless. You want positive, sustainable change. 
A new work space has potential to be more than just a ‘space to work in’. It should be a key tool to overall business success, alongside company culture. A design team that “gets you”, with the capability to ensure the foundations are right, means the opportunity in a change of space is potentially phenomenal.

“We’ve shifted away from the traditional workspace mindset. The office as we once knew it has changed and now facilitates a new set of workers who are on a journey of increased collaboration and innovation. We need design that provides further opportunities to share ideas, achieve outcomes with more people and other teams – we need the opportunity to align our work with colleagues to create meaning.” - Wendy Jones - Workplace & change strategist

4. Allow more time than you think you need

The more time you can allow for initial ground work on brand, values, workflow and staff engagement, the better. If there are multiple stakeholders, there may be multiple iterations of design concepts, which also takes time to perfect. Building consent, if required, can take weeks to prepare, and weeks to be granted. Tendering building works needs to be factored in. Your Workplace Design Team can work with you and the contractors to create a timeline for the builders works and the fit-out process, including lead times for furniture from order to delivery.

"The larger the company, generally the more complex the needs, and the more time it will require to find a space that’s fit for purpose. Businesses often under-estimate the hours it takes to do meaningful ground work, find the right space, and then allow time for quality design solutions. Plan well ahead, get your experts around you as early in the piece as you can so you get the best results for your business long term” - Lauren Scott - Senior Interior Designer, Outline Design

5. Have a post move plan

Has your Design Team discussed how they are going to help and support you once you’ve moved into your new space, rather than moving on to the next job? 
Your interior designer should have all the warrantee information on product they have procured on your behalf, and can assist you on an ongoing basis. If your Workplace Design Team have done a great job, they will know your business well, have built a relationship with you that doesn’t end with the handover of the tenancy key. They should offer ongoing support as your business continues to evolve.

“The space plan should be revisited a few months after you’ve settled in, and feedback from staff should be considered so that any adjustments can be made. If staff feel heard, and their requirements respected, they'll be engaged and happy, stay longer and work well so that they and the company thrive together." - Suzanne Cha

Outline Design is a leading commercial interior design firm, specialising in designs and fitouts within the corporate, hospitality, education, healthcare, sports and leisure sectors.  To get in touch, check out their website.