In recent years, co-working space or a small office in a serviced office environment has been where many young businesses establish themselves. But for those who are outgrowing space with new staff and new capital, it may be time to look towards a permanent office address.
So where do you start? What do you look for in an office, and how can you make it the best home for your brand? We asked Morgan Lovell to provide some practical tips and advice to anyone thinking of looking for new business premises.
1. Identify what you like about your current space
If you’re coming from a serviced office or co-working space, there’s a good chance that you’re well provided for. The trick is to clearly identify what you and your employees like about that space, and what elements you want to re-create in your first office.
Co-working spaces have become renowned for their great breakout areas, communal kitchens and cool designs. If your team love a game of pool on a Friday afternoon, or have a penchant for artisanal coffee, make sure you incorporate these elements into your own space.
2. What does your business need?
In the same way that you need to identify what you like, you also need to assess what you need.
In a bigger business, you might bring in a workplace consultant to help assess things like the number of desks, meeting areas and breakout spaces that are needed. But on a smaller scale, you can do this yourself.
Consider how many desks are being used at any one time rather than simply counting one desk per person, as you might find you don’t need as much furniture or floor space as you think.
Take a close look at how much time is spent in meetings and whether private meeting rooms are needed, or if you simply need furniture for the team to collaborate.
Consider future expansion too – how and where will additional desks and employees fit into your new office space?
3. Keep it flexible and plan for growth
Our biggest piece of advice is to be flexible with your furniture and space! You don’t want to have rows upon rows of workstations in a rigid structure.
It is also important to consider flexibility and potential for growth, so avoid too many fixed partitions and restricted areas that have limited usage.
Instead, choose flexible furnishings and moveable partitions; for example, comfortable seating in reception has multiple uses including a client waiting area, breakout or collaboration space.
4. Embrace the open plan
Open plan office design is one of the most effective ways to encourage interaction across your team. An open plan layout ensures that teams have easy access to one and other, allowing for spontaneous thought creation and leading to more ‘light bulb’ moments.
If sensitive conversations need to take place in private, try having a quiet room or booth where people can go to make phone calls, have private meetings or even sit and focus away from the open plan.
5. Think of your work areas
Often, start-ups embrace less traditional working hours, so if this is important for your business, make sure the property you lease doesn’t have restrictive opening hours that enforce a more rigid structure.
Likewise, think about what provisions you can make for staff who are in the office but need a bit of downtime – whether that’s a TV space, a games area, or simply some comfy seating.
6. Creating brand identity
Creating an office design that reflects your brand identity is an incredible opportunity to ensure your team lives by your brand values, and in turn, convey that to customers.
Think about what feeling you want to evoke in visitors to your office, and how a smart choice of colours, furnishings and fabrics can reflect the personality of your brand.
For example, you may not want plush neutral upholstery that looks like a smart hotel if you’re an edgy IT company.
At software provider Splunk, we created a space that reflected their core values of innovation, disruption, passion and fun by using graffiti wall art, with urban material finishes and creating quirky meeting rooms.
The space holds onto their cool, start-up feel and has been named coolest office in the UK on more than one occasion.
Finally, budgets are important in every office design project but as a new business, ensuring all purchases represent a good investment is going to be key.
Avoid expensive, gimmicky solutions. Multi-purpose solutions will be worthwhile investments; for example, a ping pong table that doubles as a hot-desking area in the morning, dining table at lunchtime and transforms into Centre Court after hours.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Morgan Lovell, the UK’s leading office interior design, fit out and refurbishment specialist. With their own designers, surveyors and project managers, Morgan Lovell can design, manage and deliver entire projects, with the benefit of just one point of contact.
More help on workspace, offices & premises
For more on offices and business premises, try some of our other guides;
- How to find the perfect business premises
- Pitfalls you need to avoid when getting new business premises
- How to create an inspiring and productive office space
- A Start-Up’s Guide to Co-working
- Renting business premises – commercial leases pitfalls to watch out for
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ByteStart is packed with help and tips on all aspects of starting and running a small business. Check out some of our most popular guides;
- 10 Advantages running your business as a limited company has over being a sole trader
- How to set up a limited company
- 15 Questions to ask when hiring an accountant for your new business
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- How to maximise your chances of securing a small business loan
- Preparing to raise finance for your business – 6 Steps to success
- 6 Things you need to know before launching a crowdfunding campaign for your business
- Revolving Credit Facility – The short term funding solution every small business owner should know about
- Invoice Finance – What is it and how can it help my business?
- The way to get paid – 12-Step Action Plan to stop customers from paying you late