When considering an office design brief, it’s important to know how the layout and style of a workplace can affect the people that work within it.

Willis Towers Watson offices, Ipswich - the first to go open-plan.

Willis Towers Watson offices, Ipswich - the first to go open-plan.

When working on design schemes for office-based workplaces, one of the first things that comes to mind is how it represents the company's brand and internal culture. 

Strong design should be able to articulate your core brand values as well as cater for the specific needs of your staff and visitors.

We will always ask a prospective client to describe themselves - are they a progressive or traditional business? Are they corporate or creative? What sector can they be assigned to?

We'll also ask, 'who is the space for?' It's not just senior management that might have a certain vision for their new HQ; often it's more about understanding the people - the staff and the visitors - who will be experiencing the space most frequently. Do your people work independently or in teams? Do they fit a particular age profile? Do they need to collaborate or have confidential meetings?

Gesner law firm offices, Boston

Gesner law firm offices, Boston

Different companies and different types of workers will have a variety of wants and needs, so each of these questions has the potential to take the design brief in a new direction. 

For agencies and creative businesses such as ourselves, open-plan is the most popular layout - but in call centres, for example, the layout may need to incorporate more sound-proofing and for corporate environments such as law firms, board rooms and private meeting rooms are likely to be a requirement.

Google's Silicon Valley offices feature a bean bag-filled 'hangout' area

Google's Silicon Valley offices feature a bean bag-filled 'hangout' area

There are other factors to be considered besides layout; which facilities are seen as being 'on brand' for the business? Kitchen areas, coffee spaces, gyms, showers; and for the more progressive, slides instead of stairs and ping pong tables in chill-out areas can be the way in which brand values and ethos are brought to life.

Additionally, the use of large-scale graphics and glass manifestations can establish a distinctive brand look and feel with modest investment.

Cannondale Connecticut office with GSky Living Green Wall

Cannondale Connecticut office with GSky Living Green Wall

Once we've established who we're designing for and understand the brand context, relevant trends and aesthetic influences can be layered on. There is a growing interest in wellness-centric design at the moment, with features such as living walls and standing desks becoming more commonplace.

The provision of integrated technology and networked facilities, well designed lighting, appropriate colour palettes and furnishing choices also play a role in people’s overall satisfaction with where they work. And businesses that maintain a holistic focus on the design of their workplaces may find it has a tangible role to play in the recruitment and retention of talented workers.

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