Google ‘office fit out’ and you’ll be met with thousands of results, each for a different office design business. On the face of it, they all seem to promise roughly the same things: “sleek modern design, enviable pricing, speedy turnaround.” Obviously, not all of them were created equal but how do you tell the difference? Well, finding the perfect fit out partner for your business might not be as hard as you think. Good office design companies tend to share some essential characteristics. We outline them for you here.
They Take the Time to Really Understand Your Business
A great office design company should be about so much more than just aesthetics. Whoever you pick should also be part strategic growth partner, part HR guru.
This means they spend at least as much time analysing your business and what makes it tick as they do on designing the physical space. Without knowledge of how your people work – how they use the space, what enables them to work at their most productive, and what doesn’t – your office fit out is likely to be just that: a change in aesthetics and furniture, rather than the dramatic shift it could be.
The best office design companies will conduct a workplace consultancy before they even consider putting pen to paper. This approach combines design principles, workplace psychology, and spatial analysis to really dig into the DNA of your business and understand where you could improve productivity and employee wellbeing. As a result, the final design is much more likely to deliver lasting and meaningful results than the latest Nordic-chic office furniture unthinkingly installed (nice though it is).
Their Design is Informed by Your Business
Following on from the previous point, it isn’t just the strategy for your fit out that should be informed by data on how staff use your space. The same principle applies to office design.
Trends in the design world move in cycles, and this year’s must-have office aesthetic isn’t a lot of use to you if it doesn’t have the way your business actually functions at its core. This isn’t to say you should sacrifice innovation for the sake of practicality, but it’s about finding the right balance.
An office design company that ‘gets’ this will first look to design around what your business needs – whether that’s more collaborative areas, quiet zones for focused working, or better breakout spaces. Only once the functional requirements of your space are established, will they begin to think about more traditionally design-oriented concerns like the colour of the walls or carpet and the overall feel of your office.
They Consider the Little Things
While the previous two points have discussed the importance of your design partner developing an overarching strategy for your space, there’s also a place for the little touches that can make all the difference to staff welfare and productivity.
For example, while it often gets treated as an afterthought, lighting is a vital part of any office fit out. A 2018 study from Michigan State University, revealed that poor lighting in offices can have far-reaching consequences for sleep quality, productivity, and even intelligence. Any design company you work with should understand this, and, where possible, look to make the most of any natural light. Failing that, they should be on hand to offer you artificial options that truly maximise the light in your space.
Another overlooked consideration, likely to only be on the more discerning designer's radar, is the importance of biophilic design – or, in simple terms, bringing the outside in. We humans rely on the natural world for productivity and peace of mind more than we think. For instance, a ground-breaking study released back in 2014 by a group of psychologists from Exeter University, revealed that when workers were simply ‘in view’ of plant life from their desks, productivity jumped 15%.
The same is true of furniture; your desks, tables, and chairs should be recommended with two things in mind: firstly, making sure your people are comfortable and, secondly, giving them the space to do their best work. As we mentioned earlier, this could be tailoring the furniture to what each space is used for, but it could also be more personal than this – providing adjustable desks for staff who want to stand for part of the day, for example.
What matters in all of this is that your office design partner understands that while en vogue minimalist design is great, without the little human touches that make the space fit your people, ‘less’ sometimes really does just mean less.
They’re Involved from Start to Finish
Lastly, unless you’re focused on just one aspect of an office fit out – say installing new furniture without a design overhaul – you'd benefit from a full service, from initial consultancy through to settling into your new space. Attempting this in the traditional way, with a different party responsible for each stage of the process is incredibly stressful. It presents countless opportunities for bottlenecks and foul-ups – think furniture being delivered late or differing from the original design.
The best office fit out companies will handle the entire process for you, providing you with a single point of contact who ensures the project goes off without a hitch (well, as few as possible). This means conducting the initial consultancy process, developing the design, sourcing the fixtures and furniture, and implementing the whole thing. That might sound like a lot to expect, but, in truth, having someone who really understands your business present throughout the whole process is the only way to deliver spectacular results.
If you are considering an office fit out or refurbishment, then you're probably wondering how much the process will cost. That's where our office costs calculator comes in, get an estimate for your project in seconds, whether you're moving to a new site or simply refitting your current space.