How to Make the Most of the Office Design Process

The office plays an essential role for many businesses; it can communicate the brand’s identity, ethos, and values. Whether you are moving or refurbishing your office, it is vital you make the most of your office design process to achieve your workplace objectives.

The creative process will begin at the very inception of your office relocation or refurbishment project, developing into approved proposals and only ending in the final stages of the project build phase. The choices that you make, ranging from the design team through to the inspiration and visions for your project, will have greater impact on the outcome of your scheme than almost any other factor.

To help you to understand the various elements that support a robust design process, we have put together a simple overview of the key stages you will encounter.


Set your objectives:

Your office space will form a major part of your corporate image and impact how your staff operate. It is important to take time to think about the objectives you want your new office design to achieve for your business.

Start with an open mind and don’t just replicate your existing space – office design can help to enable new ways of working. It is important to engage your staff in the process to get a true understanding of what your business, and your people, need in the office.

Select your design team:

Selecting your preferred design team for your project is a crucial decision. After you’ve meet with a few companies, create a shortlist of your preferred companies before moving to pitch stage. Ask your preferred companies to pitch against each other so you can see the different design proposals, get an understanding of costs, and get a sense of what it would be like to collaborate with each company during your project.

Review your current workspace:

Ahead of redesigning or relocating your office, it is important to understand how you are currently using your office. Having insight into how your staff use various parts of the office, what needs to be optimised, and what works well is a solid foundation for building your brief.

The most effective way to gather this insight is through occupancy studies and staff engagement questionnaires. By running an anonymous internal survey, staff can confidentially return their thoughts and preferences about their work environment. By looking at this data, you may find that your business would benefit from a new working model, such as hybrid, hub and spoke, or a distributed model.

Create a design briefing document:

The most crucial part of your new office design is the briefing document. Your brief will contain all the important business goals, aesthetic preferences, and design information that will underpin your project.

Beyond the functional elements of the design brief, you should have set objectives that your project is aiming to achieve. Not only will this inform the way your office is designed, but it will also make sure your project stays on track throughout the duration of the build.

Building selection:

The right building will enable your office design to operate at its full potential. Building selection will be driven by several factors ranging from location, floor availability, lease terms, financial incentives, etc.

Whilst the location of the building will be the most crucial aspect to consider, it is also important to consider the suitability of the space from a design perspective. The aesthetic and feel of a building will influence the ability of the designers to apply your brief successfully. You should ensure there is a strong technical team backing up the creatives. Make a list of the key criteria for your building and involve your senior team in building visits once you have a shortlist.

Concept design production:

This is the most creative part of the process where your design team will produce a few alternative ideas and concepts to make your space work and to satisfy your brief. Encourage creativity within your design team by giving them freedom to experiment, but don’t be afraid to give honest and direct feedback. If your design team miss the mark, they should react quickly, or you should consider replacing them.

Detailed design phase:

Once you have decided on the outline concept, the design team can move on to the detailing phase. The layout plans will need to be finalised, followed by the development of detailed service drawings. Perfect design is the marriage of inspirational concepts and attention to detail which, when implemented, exudes quality.

Design sign-off

Eventually, you will be reaching the stage when your detailed design scheme needs to be agreed, frozen and signed off. It is vital that you are happy with the proposals and have confidence in your team. Failure to approve can result in extended timelines and growing costs as your design team may have to rectify and rebuild part of the project further on in the process.

Building phase and beyond:

Once work begins on site, it is advisable to ensure you have agreed all design elements for your project and enter a design freeze which prevents any changes from being made. Following the completion of your project, you may find that you need alterations and additions to your space as your business evolves.

If you’re looking for more information on the office design process, download our guide to the office design process.