Knowing what a business is looking to achieve from an office fit out feeds into the office design considerations. Office design considerations cover everything from space planning and layout to types of lighting and required lighting levels, acoustics and ensuring that the office space sound levels are managed appropriately to heating, ventilation and air conditioning within the office space to electrical and plumbing work depending on the facilities required.
What Are The key Office Design Considerations in Any office Fit Out?
There are a number of office design considerations every business should think about when they are planning their office fit out. Below we’ve listed the major considerations.
The phrase “form follows function” which was coined by the architect Louis Sullivan is widely accepted within design circles and means the shape of a building or object should primarily relate to its intended function or purpose.
When thinking about office design many businesses think about how they want their office space to look. However functionality of that office space is vitally important. It’s great to have a fantastic looking office design but if it’s impractical to use and if it doesn’t meet your business needs, both now and some time into the future then it is pointless.
Designing Office Space / Space Planning
Making the most efficient use of your office space should be a major design consideration. Many companies look to move because they run out of space so any good office design and fit out should look to maximise the space that is available in line with business requirements.
A well thought out office fit out can significantly benefit and contribute to the efficiency and business effectiveness. Good office design can also help to reduce the need to make changes by building in flexibility through a flexible floor plan and by using e.g. demountable or folding partitions, acoustic ceilings, adaptable office furniture, portable storage etc. that can be used in both open plan and individual office areas.
As well as functionality ergonomics (relating to or designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment) are important. As with functionality there is no point in using office furniture which looks good but isn’t ergonomic. From the type, style and design of office furniture to the height of a workers chair and eye level to the height of their monitor there are a number of factors that need to be considered and assessed when designing an office space so that it meets the needs of the staff and doesn’t just look good.
If ergonomics are not addressed then this can result in an office that is not fit for purpose and where office staff can end up suffering from short and long term back and neck health problems. By ensuring ergonomics is given the attention it requires you can be sure that your staff can work to their full potential and are more likely to be efficient and effective.
Sound Levels / Acoustics
We know from various research studies that sound levels in an office can impact working practices and affect how people work.
An employee productivity study carried out by British Gypsum found that accuracy of work decreases by 67% when exposed to noise. When conversational noise is reduced and speech privacy is increased memory and accuracy tasks improved by 10%, the ability to focus increased 48%, distraction levels decreased 51% and physical stress symptoms lowered by 27%.
A survey by The Centre for the Built Environment (CBE), University of Berkeley of 4096 respondents in 15 buildings analysed acoustic satisfaction in office environments. They found that over 50% of staff in cubicles thought that poor acoustics interfered with their daily work. Approximately 30% of staff in private and shared offices also thought that poor acoustics interfered with their ability to get their job done, but as many as 50% of these occupants regard their acoustical environment highly, saying that it enhances their ability to get their job done.
Looking at measures to decrease office noise is an important part of an office fit out. Sound absorption can be achieved through a number of measures including acoustic and sound absorbing ceiling and wall panels, partitioning and “noise friendly” flooring like carpet as an ideal flooring solution for noise reduction with vinyl flooring another alternative. Another effective way to reduce noise levels is through the placement of plants. Plants act as a “live wall” and block or lower noise in the office environment. Plants are also a great way of bringing the outside inside which has been shown to have a positive impact on health and well-being.
Like the use of plants, maximising the use of natural light within office design and fit outs can play a very important role in health and well-being. Where natural light may not be a viable option e.g. in an office which sits in the heart of a building and has no windows, LED lighting should be considered.
Exposure to natural light is directly linked to greater workplace performance while the absence of natural light correlates with increased levels of workplace stress. Mental Health Research UK (MHRUK) say people who go without daily sunlight can develop lethargy, depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) (also known as winter depression). It’s estimated that a million working hours are lost to SAD each year in the UK. Dr Laura Davidson says “Employers and educational establishments need to take on board just how important natural light is to good mental health. They have a responsibility to ensure that work and study environments have sufficient windows to flood the building with as much natural light as possible”.
The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) LG07/15 Lighting Guide 07 provides guidance notes on how to light office space for flexible use where tablets, smart phones and touch screen computers are being used. “It keeps a balanced approach to design options, covering, where ceiling heights allow, direct/indirect lighting or pure up-lighting and, for spaces with lower ceilings, recessed down lighting. It has also maintained the extensive coverage of task lighting and day lighting techniques.”
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
Research carried out by Dell looked at how office design can impact office productivity found that the number one reason given for poor office productivity was unsuitable office temperatures.
Dell reported that 35% of workers found unsuitable office temperatures were the cause of issues. This was backed by findings in a Fellowes survey of 1000 office workers which found that 37% of office workers were distracted (and therefore less productive) when their office space was uncomfortably hot. Controlling office temperature is therefore important and this can be achieved through incorporating a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system into your office design.
These are just some of the many design considerations which should be considered when it comes to your office fit out and the long term productivity of your business. To be sure you are taking into account all considerations when it comes to your office design using an expert office design and fit out company can make all the difference.
JBH Refurbishments Office Design and Fit Out Contractor
To take advantage of JBH Refurbishments 25+ years of expertise in carrying out Sussex, Essex, Kent and London interior fit outs contact us via our contact form or calling us on 0333 207 0339.