insights on creating innovative spaces

Isn’t a New Layout Enough?

If you are a commercial business, you have sought, found and leased commercial space.  Sometimes the space is completely unstructured giving you the opportunity to design your space from scratch.  Other times the space reflects the office layout of the previous tenant and may even include furniture.  If they are going to design a space that works for their employees and for their business, we need to work together to plan for their future. 

For example, a potential client has leased new space.  The space is available “as is” including a high-end furniture system.  Two thirds of the office space is an open plan, while the rest is offices, storage, kitchen, reception and conference rooms.  The company plans to hire an additional 10-15 people by July.  The clients needs can be summarized as follows:

  • Define work space for existing employees and create pockets of space to accommodate each new employee in their appropriate role
  •  Arrange existing furniture to reflect the business culture and functional needs of existing and future staff – or remove existing systems furniture and get free-standing furniture (known as case goods)
  • Assign one permanent work station for visiting employees
  • Define an entry without need for a staffed receptionist

 As I review the space, measurements and plans are critical.  When plans are not available, a field survey is required for scaled measurements and structural details.  This is my tool to create the best options for layout.  When a space comes with existing furniture, I investigate the furniture system to understand the ability to re-use or reconfigure to meet a clients needs, especially if these systems service the electrical and telecommunication feeds.  This means that replacing such systems is not as easy as replacing desks.  Both an electrician and the  telecom service provider must also be engaged to install the relevant solutions.  My proposals make recommendations related to architecture, electrical, furniture and layout.

My proposal to this client focused on 2 things:  (1)  provide them with a design that would work better communications-wise amongst employees and accommodate growth; and (2) evaluate the re-use of the furniture system left behind. At the moment, this proposal has not been accepted.  The client was thinking only in terms of physical layout with an unreasonable budget.  The existing  furniture system is a high-end system.  Unfortunately, while the system ia a great product as originally installed, it is not easily adapted or re-configured.   The client will have to consider if it is the right system for their needs.  And, in the current economic climate, there are already too many systems laying dormant in warehouses looking for resale.

I am encouraging this client to think about

  • their growth plans
  • how they do business and how their people work
  • how the furniture (existing or new) impacts functionality of their people     
  •  electrical and telecommunication needs

Throwing out a system and getting “cheap” furniture is not always an easy solution – it may cost you more in the long run!  As you consider new space or a redesign of existing space, keep these thoughts in mind.  They will help you collaborate with your interior designer (hopefully me!) to create a space that helps your business succeed!