How to make an office design effective

1st October 2015

For years we’ve secretly envied the offices of organisations like Google, whose work hard/play hard ethos make us dream beyond the tired coffee machine and worn-out brown office décor, that wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of ‘The Office.”

And while the creative, colourful office designs and office fit-outs aren’t a reality for most businesses, an inspired environment that brings out the best in its staff is not out of reach.

As independent, experienced project managers and designers Rapport would love to work with huge creative briefs and limitless budgets. However, what defines our position in the market is how we collaborate with our clients brief and budget using experience and imagination to develop an effective and inspirational space that overcome environmental factors – ensuring your office engages both staff and clients alike.

With businesses and technology developing quickly, making an office design effective can be crucial not only staff wellbeing, but one of the biggest factors to consider is the future and longevity of your design.

We sat down with Will Shaw one of our Associate Designers and Jeanette Grover, Rapport’s Founder and Project Director to find out what considerations need to be addressed when designing today’s office space.


What’s the biggest consideration for a business planning an effective office design?

Jeanette: Considering the business’s culture now and how it will need to adapt in the future can be of real importance in the longer-term design process.

Will: Identify how many days’ staff actually spend in the office. A time and space analysis provides this valuable information.

How many meetings take place internally?

Do you envisage more virtual meetings happening now and in the future?

With those considerations will static meeting rooms be required in a longer-term design?

Workspace design must be adaptable to the future of your organisation and culture.

Jeanette: Equally, what’s the current age demographic, and how will this change?

New generation employees don’t want to sit at a desk all day.  They want and need to be far more flexible and fluid in their movement. This encourages creativity and collaboration a major benefit for progressive organisations.

Research shows that sitting all day can and does have a negative impact on a person’s physical and mental health.

The wellbeing of staff should always be considered in the design process, small changes in furniture and working culture can help and ultimately benefit the business.


How should an organisation reflect their brand effectively in a design?

Will: From experience different companies look to communicate their brand in very different ways.

Some like to communicate a message literally so every colour within a brand logo or marketing must follow through the space. Some of the more interesting design briefs, take us back to the first question, by considering the culture of the business.

Do you want the design to stop at the reception?

Is the design for client facing purposes or does it penetrate every part of the business?

And importantly does the design show staff are being valued?  A flexible design pallet can show that you’re supporting and acknowledging your staff.

Jeanette: Yes, one of the biggest considerations our clients have is attracting new staff and equally they want to retain current staff.

We work with HR teams closely to carry out workshops that involve key managers and staff in the initial design process.

We provide a considered questionnaire to staff to understand what keeps them motivated; what distracts them about their current working space.   Your staff and office users can and should influence the design.

Reception space is also important.  It’s the face of the business that will showcase your environment and business ethos. Entering a buzzy, connected front end reception gives visitors and staff a very different view of the business.

Consider incorporating comfortable soft seating that the staff will want to work and meet at.  This creates a positive impression and an inviting area to be in and part of.

 Plan early – Ensure you’re choosing the right space for your organisation at the very beginning.


What needs to be considered before creating a design brief?

Jeanette:  Have a full understanding of your market and what you want to achieve before initiating your design brief.

Will: Translating a client’s brief effectively, rather than ‘creating’ the brief from THE design end can help turn the concept into a 3-dimensional reality with greater results. Designing whilst on-site can be costly and time-intensive, especially if you have tight budgets and timelines.


How can an independent design and project management team benefit my office design and fit out project?

Jeanette:  The most successful projects incorporate the whole project team with joined up thinking and clear communication.

If you detail out the design criteria, parameters and scope the works at the front end of your project as a ‘team’ you limit the number of changes during the contract.

Being detailed in the initial stages can prevent programme delay and help remove costly additions.

When working with Rapport you’re assigned a dedicated, independent project manager to oversee the contractor / client relationship who will assist in controlling your project budget

Next week Will and Jeanette will be discussing space utilisation, furniture solutions, considerations for building constraints and design budgets.

You can speak with Rapport on: 01252 712590 or email us for advice on your office move, office design or fit-out at:

To view our portfolio of work click here