All Posts By

Georgina Barkworth

Office Layout

Office Layout: 6 Tips to Enhance Your Office

By Uncategorised

You and your team will spend a lot of time in the office. Planning the office layout effectively is not just important aesthetically but also to ensure the office runs seamlessly and effectively.

Due to the amount of time you and your employees spend in the office, the space you work in can have a significant impact on physical health, mental health, productivity and the overall success of the business. Research has shown, poorly designed offices can lead to friction among employees, poor concentration, poor productivity among other key issues.

Preparing your space well for your business will need more than just a few desks being changed around. Furniture will need to be specially selected based on your needs, the appropriate lighting will need to be considered among other things. Read below for our top six tips on how to enhance your office layout.

1. Plan for efficiency and functionality

Before you start to do anything to your office, you should always make a plan. Writing down your requirements, budget, facilities you need and faults with your current office layout will all help you to make an effective plan and ensure you come out with the best result. It is also important to consider at this stage both the functionality and efficiency of the office layout as while design can be nice, it is most important the your office runs successfully in the new space.

2. Facilitate collaboration and innovation

Designing your office layout to facilitate collaboration and innovation will significantly improve how your team work as well as their output. Spaces that influence collaboration and innovation can vary from large tables that teams can gather around, informal comfortable soft seating areas, presentation spaces and more. They make for much more inspirational spaces than a standard desk area and make for much better results.

3. Consider technology

Planning your new office layout with your IT support team is something to not forget about. Each area will more than likely need IT considerations so involving  the IT team will ensure that all elements necessary such as power sockets, printers, Wi-Fi routers, presentation screens, will be in the best place possible.

4. Include variety

Having a variety of areas to use such as collaboration spaces, break out areas, kitchen facilities, flexi-desk spaces, sound proof booths, presentation areas and comfortable soft seating spaces will mean that your employees will be able to use the new office layout to suit their needs. Not only does it add flexibility for your team, it will also help them to perform at their best by picking an area that suits their task.

5. Ask your employees

Including your employees in the process by asking their thoughts on the current workspace and understanding their needs for the new office layout will not only make for a better result but will also improve employee job satisfaction as they will feel more involved with key decision making that effects them.

6. Plan for growth

Where do you see your company in 6-12 month? Do you have plans to recruit new members? Considering who will be using the new space along with how your company will grow over the next few years will help so that you don’t have to reorganise and redesign the space again to facilitate expansion that could have been planned for.

To see examples of our office layouts click here.

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Return to the office

In Conversation: Returning to the Office

By In Conversation

We sat down with Kevin McIntosh, our Head of Design to discuss his thoughts on returning to the office.

You have worked in commercial interior design for over 20 years and worked on countless projects, how have you seen the office space change over time?

KM: There has been a massive change in office spaces since the start of my career. At the start of my career, Approved Document M had only just been introduced which started to make workspaces more accessible for everyone, so a lot of my initial designing was spent making workspaces more accessible for people. There was the transition into businesses opting for open plan office spaces which involved a lot of removing walls and providing a new contemporary feel to the office through design. However, we soon saw the downfall of the open plan office with businesses experiencing difficulties with noise control and privacy which then naturally led onto to the more cellularised offices that we see today. These involve sort of broken up areas that flow into one another all with their own purpose such as closed off meeting rooms, flexi-working desks, collaboration spaces and so on. There’s definitely been a lesson to learn about the functionality of office spaces.

Is the office still important?

KM: Massively important. While there is never a one size fits all approach to this and that’s what makes my job so interesting, I still believe for the majority that the office is vital for successful operations. If anything, almost two years of remote working has shown us that the office is more important than ever to provide collaboration, sociability and innovation which both we need and businesses need to survive. I think we will see further changes to office spaces as a result of the new purpose of the office with things like the use of breakout rooms as a necessity not a luxury unlike before.

How can design be used to encourage employees to return to the office and the attract and retain new talent?

KM: There’s definitely been a move towards what we in the industry call a destination office which is essentially a hub for employees that provides them with a reason to come to the office and a location where everything is. Essentially, the office is now being used for collaboration and innovation and remote working is being used for the more solo tasks that require focus and time. It is important that the office provides the correct facilities for employees that enable and encourage collaboration and innovation which can be done through elements such as meeting spaces for various group sizes.

What do you see the office space like in the future?

KM: The office is becoming ever more employee-centric. The pandemic has demonstrated how we can work remotely  which has led to the office needing to cater to what employees need and want from the office in order to facilitate their return. I feel a lot of trends have accelerated as a result of the pandemic and it is likely that we will see an increase in cellularised office spaces featuring flexi-working spaces, breakout spaces, comfort areas, collaboration area, meeting rooms and kitchenettes with coffee facilities.

Thinking about refurbishing your office? Get in touch with us today.

Office Relocation

Office Relocation: 4 Top Tips

By Office Interiors

Relocating your office is a very exciting experience for any company as it marks the start of a new era for the business as well as having the opportunity to operate out of a new and improved space. However, while you may think it may be stressful organising and executing the office move, it doesn’t need to be as stressful as you may imagine.

1. Plan Early

It is important that commercial moves are planned and prepared in detail so that they are as efficient and as smooth as possible. Make sure to plan all stages of the relocation, a time-frame for the move, a moving date and then all the finer details of what needs to be done by each point can be decided.

Once you have decided where you are moving to, you should check that the space is suitable for your employees’ needs. More and more offices are becoming employee-centric and need to be more of a destination rather than a block of desks to attract employees back to the office, so make sure to consider this. Also, having a specific budget tied to each stage of the moving process will making decision making much easier.

2. Discuss with Employees

Clear communication with your employees throughout the whole process will minimise any issues such as stress and poor-decision making. Discussing employees’ needs in terms of what they expect from the new office space, locations that would suit them, time frames that work with their agendas will ensure that the workforce support senior leadership decisions relating to the office relocation and staff will feel happier overall. They may even come up with ideas and solutions you may not have thought of!

3. Evaluate your New Space

Evaluating your new office space for functionality is very important when planning your office relocation. Having a space that easily flows from department to department and that suits your needs whether that’s meeting rooms, breakout spaces, flexi-working desks, phone booths or kitchenette areas is vital. If you evaluate the space before you get into it, it makes for a much more successful move.

4. Assign a Team

Hiring a professional team to support with your office relocation and the fit out and refurbishment of the new workspace will guarantee that you have the expert knowledge, guidance and resources you need for it to be as seamless as possible.

If you wish to find out more about office fit outs or would like relocation support, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Ideagen

Biophilic Design – What is it?

By Uncategorised

What is Biophilic Design?

Biophilic design is a design concept used to increase the ways those who use the space connect with the natural environment through the use of bringing nature inside in whatever way possible.

As humans we have an innate connection with nature. It’s not uncommon to feel better when surrounded by natural light, greenery and fresh air, actually, we very much need nature in order to function properly.

Essentially, it is used to improve the workspace and provide numerous benefits.

Why is it Important?

As our exposure to nature is declining as a result of urbanisation, there is ever growing pressure to connect more with nature and reap the benefits it provides our mental and physical health.

Research has shown that involving natural elements into designs can have great physical benefits such as reducing heart rates and blood pressure levels and mental benefits like reduced stress and anxiety.

What are the Benefits?

  • Increased productivity, creativity and presenteeism
  • Increased employee retention
  • Noise absorbent
  • Reduction of energy requirements in terms of lighting, ventilation and temperature regulation
  • Calming, uplifting and anxiety reducing

How do we Implement Biophilic Design?

There are many ways that biophilic design elements can be introduced to your workspace.

Some key areas to consider are:

  • Improved natural and artificial lighting
  • Air quality, toxin levels and ventilation
  • Internal and external views of nature
  • Psychological and physiological effects of the space
  • Acoustics
  • The addition of recuperation spaces

Look at how we used biophilic design in our Ideagen project. – Ideagen – Chameleon Business Interiors (chameleon-business-interiors.co.uk)

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Cat A V Cat B

Cat A vs Cat B Fit Out

By Office Interiors, Uncategorised

When moving into a new office space or refurbishing your existing office, it is important to know the difference between Cat A and Cat B fit outs and what you can expect from each.

What is a fit out?

An office fit out is the complete process from start to finish of transforming an interior space into an appropriate workspace ready for your employees to operate in. The process essentially includes everything you need to do to make the space usable such as installing lighting, meeting rooms, work stations of various kinds and so on.

Depending on the standard of the space you acquire, you will need a Cat A or Cat B fit out. We will explain below exactly what these levels of fit outs entail and what you can roughly expect.

What is a Cat A fit out?

Cat A fit outs, in industry, are known to be completed with a suspended ceiling, raised flooring, lighting and heating. The landlord would lease this functional space to the tenants who would be expected to install the rest of the design and finishes that would be needed to suit their workspace. Essentially, once this is provided by the landlord, the tenant would have to facilitate a Cat B fit out.

Fundamentally, it is a basic but usable space that can then be turned into your perfect workspace by adding all your requirements such as meeting rooms, breakout spaces, furniture, kitchenettes, greenery and so on.

What is typically included?

  • Raised floors and suspended ceilings
  • Basic mechanical and electrical services
  • Fire detection services and smoke alarms
  • Air-conditioning and ventilation
  • Basic internal finishes

View our fit out projects by clicking here.

What is a Cat B fit out?

Typically, a Cat B fit out is the second part to the Cat A fit out. A Cat B fit out includes all things needed so that your business can operate successfully within the workspace. As this type of fit out is much more personalised to the business in terms of business needs, employees thoughts and company culture, it is normally left to the business to organise.

A Cat B fit out should be very specific to the business that works within that space, for example including the correct mix of workstations, breakout areas and meeting rooms. Cat B fit outs often include space planning and workplace consultancy to know exactly how your employees will use this space to ensure it allows them to do their job in the most efficient way possible.

It is important that your Cat B fit out reflects your company culture and brand values as it will support you to attract and retain the best talent!

What is usually included?

  • Fully-fitted kitchens and non-communal office amenities
  • Partitioning; including meeting rooms, offices and breakout spaces
  • Workstations and furniture
  • Re-routing air conditioning and power points
  • IT installation and infrastructure
  • Design and brand detailing

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Office Fit Out

5 Office Fit Out Mistakes to Avoid

By Office Design, Office Interiors, Uncategorised

Fitting out an office is a big commitment that often is a big investment and requires a lot of time spent planning . It is important to get it correct as office fit outs don’t happen all that regularly and aren’t something you can quickly change. Not only that, but getting it wrong can seriously impact the way your employees work and how they feel in the office so it is important to avoid the following common fit out mistakes.

1.  Ignoring Office Fit Out Trends

Office fit out trends are constantly changing and incorporating them into your office design is important. However, you will need to be aware of many trends so you can choose a design that fits with your company culture and needs. Designs impact employees and visitors both mentally and physically so choosing the correct trend is important. If you ignore the current trends you run the risk of the office space not being suitable.

2.  Forgetting Your Priorities

Forgetting your priorities is an easy mistake to make when planning your office fit out.  It is easy to focus on the configuration of the office rather than the function of the office. However, the function is much more important as it will enable your business to run effectively and efficiently. By focusing on design rather than functionality you run the risk of creating a workspace that is very difficult to operate in.

3.  Lack of Scalability

While you may only have 10 employees now, it is likely that in the future that your business may expand or face other changes. Having the ability to scale your office in order to accommodate new recruits will be vital to ensure that the design of your office doesn’t become outdated very quickly.

4.  Lack of Nature

Artificial lighting and poor ventilation can seriously impact your health, both physically and mentally. It can also impact employees productivity and collaboration and so affecting the overall performance of the company.  Incorporating nature into the workspace through methods like plants, large windows, skylights, adjustable lighting and air purification systems will support the reduction of stress and boost employee performance and job satisfaction.

5.  Forgetting Employee Office Needs

Forgetting what your employees want is a great mistake to avoid in your office fit out. After all, it will be your employees using the workspace and everyone uses offices differently. Consulting them on their opinions and needs will be very beneficial to understand what types of spaces you will need, whether that’s meeting rooms, desk spaces, breakout rooms, informal areas among other options.

For more advice of office fit outs in the post-pandemic era, click here.

 

Contact us today if you’re looking for help with your office fit out at info@c-b-i.co.uk

    Fill in the form below and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.

    Office lighting for wellness and productivity

    By Chameleon, Office Design, Office Interiors

    Everyone knows how lighting can impact their mood. Many employees often choose to get out the office and into the sun during the summer months because of how it makes them feel much more uplifted. It is important to provide good office lighting not only to improve the well being of your employees but to also enhance their productivity.

    Whether you opt for artificial, natural, bright, dim, cold or warm office lighting, the choice of lighting you choose will impact the mood, physical health, productivity and creativity of your employees. It is important to get the right balance as office lighting that is too bright can be harsh on your eyes, alter your sleeping pattern and trigger headaches and lighting that is too dim can strain your eyes and make you tired. Your brain shouldn’t have to be working overtime to compensate for inadequate lighting.

    Check out our previous projects here to see how we use lighting.

    What are my office lighting options?

    Fluorescent V LED

    When choosing the best office lighting for your employees deciding between fluorescent and LED is often the first place to start. While fluorescent options are typically cheaper than their LED counterparts, they are known to trigger headache and migraine symptoms among staff. Fluorescent lighting can also affect sleep patterns as it is known to hinder the production of melatonin. Alternatively, LED lighting is often seen as the more preferable option, despite being more expensive as they are energy efficient and can be dimmed to match the daylight outside which is better for both employees well being and productivity.

    Natural Lighting

    Its widely known that exposure to natural light reduces the likelihood of eye strain, headaches and blurred vision while working. Natural lighting also helps with other elements of health and wellbeing such as regulating hormones, supporting a healthy sleeping pattern and working productively on tasks.

    Incorporating windows into office design significantly benefits the workforce. If you don’t have many windows, perhaps consider the addition of skylights to your building as a way to add natural light.

    Colour and Temperature

    Choosing between warm lighting and cool lighting can be a difficult decision but should be based on the task at hand. Typically, warmer lighting in shades of yellow or orange is better for relaxing where as cool lighting in shades of white or blue are good for waking up, concentrating or working in general. If possible, it is advisable that during the morning, the lighting is best to be of cooler shades and warms up through the day supporting employees to wind down easier at the end of the day.

    Brightness

    Ensuring that your office space has the correct brightness for your employees is essential. Non-working areas such as communal spaces and the kitchen  make sense to have lots of natural light as employees aren’t looking at screens or concentrating on tasks. In areas where employees spend a lot of time at screens, supporting them by taking away more of the natural lighting which overwhelms the screen and replacing it with lighting that can be controlled more easily is a better option.

     

    Making the correct lighting choice for your employees is vital in order to look after their wellbeing and support both productivity and creativity in the workplace to get the most from your employees.

    office

    Post Pandemic Office Trends

    By Office Design, Office Interiors

    While we have spent over a year working from home through the pandemic, it is not a replacement for the office. The office facilitates collaboration, brainstorming, improved communication which helps to develop relationships, build community, learn and reinforce company culture, all of which are essential to running a successful business and can’t be done as well via remote working. However, what employees need and want from the office is changing post pandemic and so being aware of new office trends will be very important in getting your workforce back to the office successfully.

    Flexibility & Variety: Employees now expect different working environments depending on their needs.

    Post pandemic, the ability to work remotely or from the office depending on the needs of the task at hand is key. As employees have become accustom to a quieter working environment being able to work from home, the flexibility to choose the appropriate workspace depending on what they feel is the right setting for them is important in order to increase both productivity and improve the mental wellbeing of your workforce.

    There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to offering both flexibility and variety in workspaces. Some employees may prefer working from home, others may be happy to go back to the traditional working environment and some may prefer more collaborative, open plan, relaxed workspaces. Its increasingly likely that as employees return to the office post pandemic a variety of workspaces will need to be offered.

    Privacy: Employees previously struggled with privacy in the workplace now this is a must for them.

    While it is increasingly thought of that the office will more likely be used as a collaborative workspace with employees choosing the home environment  as a place to get individual projects and tasks done, it is important to not neglect privacy in the workplace. Whether it be for phone calls, individual meetings, smaller projects, often a quite space to bunker down and get on with the task at hand is important in the workspace and can’t be forgotten about despite the emphasis on collaborative working. Options such as sound proof phone booths, smaller meeting rooms and break away areas a great for providing privacy for employees.

    Touch Free Technology: Hygiene is a priority in a post pandemic workplace and technology to support that is massively favoured.

    Touch free technology is a recent innovation being adopted by big businesses in the attempt to make their workplaces more covid-secure and hygienic for employees. As touch has been identified as one of the biggest ways to spread Covid-19 many companies are looking to reduce the need for touch in order to minimise the risk of exposure and transmission of the virus. At Virgin Money HQ, they have brought in gates, lifts and lights all controlled from an app on each employees phone and toilets using sensor technology. Employees also have access to automated refreshment appliances for teas, coffees and water again to reduce touch in the workspace. This is not something exclusive to big corporations now smart lighting and automated appliances are becoming very affordable. Additions like these to you workplace are without a doubt going to ease employees back into working from the office making them reassured the most is being done to support their safety.

    Comfort: Workspaces will need to cater for employee’s comfort to maximise their productivity.

    Over the last year, working from home has meant that employees have become accustom to comfortable workspaces rather than the rigid, traditional chair and desk setting. However, this is not a new trend as pre pandemic many enjoyed working from coffee shops as the relaxed seating was much more comfortable for employees. The need for comfortable workspaces within the office setting is becoming increasingly more important in order to facilitate comfortable collaborative working in order to maximise employee productivity and happiness. Options like high tables, sofas, larger more relaxed chairs along with kitchens and outdoor workspaces all contribute to employee comfort.

    It would be incorrect to assume that these trends are a result of the pandemic and its affect on the workplace, they existed well before covid. However, the pandemic has highlighted the need for changes within the workplace showing how the way we were working previous is outdated and too rigid for these times. Every employee will have different needs and ideas about how they prefer to work and so employee informed decision making regarding workspaces will be key to successfully creating the most effective post pandemic office.

    Cherry Tree Court

    Work begins at Hull’s 35,000 sq ft Cherry Tree Court

    By Chameleon

    Work has begun to transform prominent Hull building, Cherry Tree Court, into a co-working space and business lets. The significant investment in the refurbishment of Cherry Tree Court, which is situated next to Double Tree Hilton, is being led by asset managers FI Real Estate Management (FIREM).

    The first stage of the refurbishment, undertaken by Chameleon Business Interiors, will see the fit-out of a new, high-spec city centre co-working space ‘FigFlex Offices’ alongside a 6,000 sq ft office let.

    Harriet Wagstaff, head of sales at Chameleon said: “This is a great project for the city and it is great to see more inward investment coming into the city. FIREM is known for developing and managing mixed-use spaces that nurture businesses. It’s a pleasure to be working with the team at FIREM and Garness Jones on such a prominent Hull building.

    “Following on from recent investment in the Hull Truck Theatre and Double Tree Hilton, it is great to see some grade A office space being introduced to the area to increase footfall at this side of the city. Cherry Tree Court offers a number of attractive office accommodation options over across three floors – and the co-working space is perfect for those looking for a flexible city centre address. We look forward to seeing which businesses choose to make their homes there.”

    A spokesperson for FIREM said: “We’re really excited about what lies ahead for Cherry Tree Court. It sits in a fantastic location, right in the heart of Hull city centre, with virtually every amenity you’d need within walking distance.

    “This makes it the ideal place for businesses of all sizes to set up and embrace the progressive working environments made possible by FI Real Estate Management and the help of the team at Chameleon.

    “FigFlex is FIREM’s dedicated serviced office provider and Hull will become the first FigFlex location north of Coventry when it officially opens this Autumn, demonstrating our confidence in Hull and its bright future.”

     Phase one of the work is due for completion later this month.

     

    attract and retain the top talent

    Attract and retain the top talent

    By Chameleon

    Flexible working is becoming a major consideration for professionals seeking a new role post pandemic, you will need to provide it in order to attract and retain top talent…

    New research has shown that more than half of UK professionals consider flexibility of hours or location to be more significant when seeking a new role than it was before the pandemic, whilst 38% thought that workplace culture would play a greater role!

    While the majority (68%) said flexibility about work location had improved during the pandemic, and more than half (57%) said flexibility of hours had got better, attitudes towards workplace culture were less positive – only a third of respondents said the quality of their company’s culture had improved in the pandemic, with 20% saying it had declined.

    Workspaces now have to adapt to suit the changing needs of their users, including introducing technology to make flexible working more accessible for everyone in order to attract and retain the top talent. Employees want a variety of facilities to choose from in order to complete their tasks efficiently, effectively and productively. For example, as well as traditional desking, collaboration areas, bookable meeting rooms, informal social areas, breakout rooms and phone booths are all important facilities to provide.

    Find out more about how we can transform your workspace into a flexible hub that encourages collaboration and inspires team culture here!