Designing the office: Creating your workspace layout

4th August 2021 | 4 min read

Designing a workspace that caters to your business’s needs and showcases its culture is critical in the process of establishing an office.  In our latest guide, we unravel the steps into what is required in creating the perfect workspace.

Once you have settled on a location, space and lease agreement you will need to look at how your company will occupy that space, particularly if you have decided not to go into an already fully fitted out office.

To do this you will likely need the expertise of a workplace designer. For instance, firms taking space within LABS and LabTech’s buildings can opt to work with our team of designers who can help you develop the perfect office for your business.

“The key thing for an occupier to know is that we [workplace designers] don’t expect them to have all the answers,” Scott Ellis, Workspace Design Director at LabTech and LABS, says.

“All we ask is that they are able to share what their expectations are for a workplace and what success looks like.”

For him working with occupiers at the start of the office design process is special because “it means that you can translate their company brand or purpose into a physical space”.

At the beginning of the process, one of the first conversations he would want to have with an occupier would involve discussing what the British Council for Offices defines as the drivers for change.

This includes the focus on people, experience and wellbeing; the drive for creativity and productivity; technology enablement; long-term adaptability and the economic value and return on investment.

He admits this can sound a bit “daunting” to occupiers, but it enables workplace designers to understand more about their client such as the company purpose, mission statement and methods of working.

“Essentially it’s about understanding what a typical day may look like for the business and what the drivers are for people wanting to work in an office for that business,” he says.

The key issues

“When thinking about the workspace, the user journey sits at the forefront of our minds,” Scott explains.

“What the experience is for staff or guests from the moment they see the building down the street, to getting to a desk or to that meeting room door? What are the key moments that need to be experienced along that journey?

“You’re telling a story and every moment that happens along that journey is another chapter.”

From there it is about the important factors that affect wellbeing and experience, such as natural daylight and plants and how to make the space functional, yet comfortable and attractive.

It’s at this point where a designer really shows their worth by helping to fit your ideas for your office into the space you will be occupying and also when using data to make informed decisions is useful.

For example, using data such as meeting room utilisation to determine how many, if any, meeting rooms are needed in the space.

Scott adds that the pandemic has “challenged the way that teams work and the return to the workspace is going to mean something different to every company”.

“There is no one size fits all, it has to be relative to that occupier. So, getting the right mix is really important.”

For Scott, the ideal workspace is one that “personifies the company. It has that balance between professional and playful. I’m not suggesting that every office needs to have a ping pong table, it needs to be relative to that company”.

One company he has been designing for recently, a publisher, wanted to create a library space to showcase their product but to also have a quiet oasis. “It’s a golden moment because you are bringing something personal to them to their workspace.”

He adds: “My desk is my sanctuary to get work done. I’m fortunate enough to have a seat next to a window, so I get a lot of natural daylight. It also means that the Peace Lily on my desk is growing wild!

“Having memorable moments such as a hidden oasis or a crazy plant are the small details, but it forms part of a bigger picture – how they then in turn work with the wider workspace and how all these components work together.”

Design costs

Costs for designing an office can be broken down into four parts – base build customisation; enhancement works; technology and furniture.

Base build customisation is the most expensive part, followed by any long lead items, which means items with long time elapses from being ordered to being delivered, such as folding partitions, amphitheatres or media walls.

At LABS we build a lot of flexibility into our spaces so that the cost of base-build customisation is greatly reduced.