MT Expert: How to deck out your office

James Quoroll offers ten ways for small businesses to furnish office space creatively and keep employees happy, whatever the budget.

by James Quoroll
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

1. Survey your space

First things first – carry out a survey of occupation levels in the office. Consider the requirements and future of the business and think about how you intend to use the office over the next few years. You can then use this information to change and update the way you use your space based on requirements. 

2. Mix it up

Cellular or private offices mean more space, more partitioning and more air conditioning with low staff interaction. Mix things up a little by removing outdated rows of desks and separated office space and instead provide a range of areas that encourage employees to mingle and collaborate. Running costs will be reduced and most importantly communication & team sprit will increase. 

3. Let there be light

With employees spending 90% of their waking hours indoors – making the most of the natural light in your office space is really important. It can help to increase employee productivity and can even reduce stress levels. Don’t be afraid to get creative: look at using glass walls, or even removing walls altogether to allow light to spread throughout the building. 

4. Keep it flexible

Nothing in business is ever certain. Businesses are constantly evolving so it is important that your office space is flexible and can adapt quickly to change. Save money by avoiding fixed partitioning and save time by quickly reconfiguring space. Stylish bookcases look good and can be used to divide teams. Similarly low acrylic screens don't cost much and are a good way of defining meeting areas and breaking up your space. Just make sure they are on wheels so they are easy to move around!  

5. Are you sitting comfortably?

Budget furniture saves nothing in the long term. Your staff spend the majority of their day sitting, and cheap chairs can cause back pain and absence. Invest in high quality seating for your staff to keep them healthy and happy. Look into more modern options that will keep your office looking good, whilst also prioritising the comfort of your workforce. 

6. Bench press

Consider switching your space to include bench-style desks – which is designed to be more space efficient. Bench desk configurations allow more people per desk and are an excellent space saver as they have a smaller footprint. The reduced number of legs provides a flexible solution and can adapt to team growth. They are also great for improving team communications: less emails and more face time!

7. Breakout

Meeting rooms cost money and can be an inefficient use of space if not well-used. Try to get more out of your space by creating breakout spaces for those informal meetings.  A few sofas and tables can provide a great meeting space in a more open and communal setting and with the rise in flexible working and remote technologies, most employees are happy to work in a variety of environments.

8.  Out with the old

Replace all that old office equipment with newer, more energy efficient versions. Although the initial outlay of upgrading or replacing can prove costly, the benefits, both environmentally and financially will far outweigh the expense. Your staff will also thank you for the upgrade of outdated and inefficient equipment, which in the long run, will save you time and money. 

9. Don’t look down

Be imaginative in any office refits or upgrades. You don’t have to change everything to make a difference to your employees’ working environments. Rather than replacing all of the flooring, look at changing the circulation routes with the highest footfall. Or, to add impact to entrance areas and tired office spaces, how about using vinyl wall transfers in company colours. These are a good way of cost-effectively reinforcing your brand identity. 

10. Every little helps

Don’t forget that low budget, simple changes can often have a significant impact on staff morale and the feel of your office environment. Small changes like improved lighting, sprucing up common areas with artwork or ideas walls can all have a big impact on the look and feel of your space.  

James Quoroll is senior project designer at fit-out and refurbishment specialist Overbury. For more information please visit www.overbury.com

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