When embarking on the process of designing and building your business’s next office fit out, it is critical to ensure you’ve given thought to the finer details of the design as this will be your work home for the foreseeable future. When signing onto a 5+ year lease term, it pays to pay attention to these details early so that the space stands the test of time.
Below we have outlined some simple design and configuration points that we often see ignored and later regretted;
Be strategic with your flooring choices.
It is important to consider what flooring is most suitable for what area of your tenancy. Carpet works well for acoustics however can stain with ease; tiles can lift the quality of the space however aren’t suitable for workstation/meeting areas. As examples of cautionary tales.
- Anything but carpet in your boardroom will be harsh on acoustics and will likely cause reverberation issues. This will be very noticeable in person and through teleconferencing.
- Polished concrete within your workstation area will cause issues with chairs on wheels and acoustics.
- Carpet nearby kitchen areas leaves you prone to stains and tricky mess.
Put a vinyl/tile finish in kitchen areas;
More than anything, this is a matter of tidiness, cleanliness, and maintenance. Kitchens can be messy places, and any spillage accidents will be a lot easier to remove from a hard surface than carpet.
Get your priorities right;
Think about what is most important and essential as a business and use that to help shape your tenancy. Most office spaces will have a best corner/perimeter that will likely feature a view or larger level of natural light. If you are a client facing business, it may be worthwhile ensuring you have a boardroom that showcases this aspect. If the aim to is provide the majority of staff with a high-quality space, it may be best to have the workstations exposed to this aspect. Ultimately, this is a decision that will be specific to your own business’s preferences.
Keep noise and smells away from your working area.
Whether it’s the sound of staff discussing their weekend antics or the smell of tuna engulfing the working area, disturbances are most likely to come from your Kitchen and Breakout Area. Being able to position the kitchen in an area that is more secluded or enclosable is a consideration we highly recommend. This also provides you the opportunity to turn your kitchen/breakout area into an informal meeting space.
Meeting Clients in your office? Consider accessibility.
Each business operates in its own way, yet most consider their privacy and confidentiality a major factor in their office’s design. Constructing your office’s fit out in a way that clients and visitors see what they need to see and nothing more will help maintain the barriers.
If your meeting rooms will, from time to time, be used in a client facing manor, we recommend you take special consideration in where they are positioned. Being able to greet clients or visitors at the entrance of your tenancy and have them enter a room immediately stemming off that is a big winner for most groups. This is especially crucial for groups that handle sensitive information that should not be shared with individuals outside of the company.
Exposed ceilings can look great, but can be flawed acoustically
Most acoustic baffling is either in the gyprock walls or above the ceiling grid, so taking the ceiling grid and contents out will significantly reduce the acoustic viability of the area. This is most important in meeting spaces or in office environments that require increased levels of collaboration. We would tend to recommend the kitchen and entry area to best suited for a feature exposed ceiling. Set ceilings tend to look better than standard ceiling tiles however will come at an additional cost.
Think about line-of-sight within the fit-out – some areas are not the most attractive or well-kept, so it may be better to keep them tucked away from a client’s view;
Depending on your business’s needs, a well-designed space will be able to keep clients and private areas completely separate. It is important to consider sight lines running from your reception/waiting area into the tenancy and workstation area. Staff may have sensitive or private information on their monitors or desks and most groups would like to avoid having these visible from the tenancy entry. These can be nullified through careful fit out design or by the use of dividers, e.g. timber batons or planter boxes to split up the space.
Make things easier on the plumbers. It will be worth it.
If it is possible to work off existing plumbing within your tenancy, utilising space near or in place of this area will allow you to save money and time in one of the more costly components of the fit out. Costs can blow out very quickly when you start to stretch the imagination from a plumbing perspective.
Expecting growth? Come prepared.
It is often recommended to approach the space as if you were occupying it with the growth of your lease term in mind. If you are operating with 20 staff currently however forecast a growth to 40 in 4 years’ time, we recommend you pay closer attention to that final figure. You can always manoeuvre and add workstations as you grow to reduce the feeling of emptiness in your space.
If the next space over happens to be vacant, you can account for future growth by designing your fit out in a way that the back of house workstations are positioned against the inter-tenancy wall, and as you add more workstations you can just push that wall further and further back. Think about the future and any ideas you can implement now that will help set the business up for the long term.