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According to the latest statistics, there are 5.5 million small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) operating in the UK. This means they make up 99% of the total private sector business population, and the number has grown over the last ten years.

While this is the case, SMEs can experience obstacles when creating a great workplace experience for employees. Moreover, they can struggle to compete with bigger firms that have more money to spend on their office interior design schemes.

However, SMEs needn’t resign themselves to uninspiring, unadventurous office designs. In fact, there are countless examples of companies who have created practical, stylish offices that foster an excellent workplace culture. Even those on a tight budget have proved they make the most of their space to attract incredible talent and facilitate growth.

If you’re looking to transform your office space for the better too, then this blog will undoubtedly help. Using existing examples, we’ve rounded up a list of office design ideas for ambitious SMEs. From zones that build team spirit to features that support hybrid working, here are some top tips …

Bleacher-Style Huddle Areas

One advantage SMEs have is that they can develop tight-nit teams that can collaborate effectively. While this is largely down to the employees’ personalities and team chemistry, businesses can enhance the feeling of solidarity by integrating collaborative office furniture, like huddle areas.

Huddle areas provide a designated space where employees can come together for certain tasks, gatherings, and more. For example, they can be used for morning briefs, brainstorming, social events, breaks, and important announcements.

The current trend is to install bleacher-style huddle areas.  A great example of this was incorporated as part of one of our recent London office refurbishment projects for Fastned Charging. Aided by intelligent space planning, Fastned managed to fit in a small huddle area into its medium-sized office, helping to bring choice and versatility to the space.

Social Media Zones

Social media is becoming increasingly important to SMEs when it comes to business marketing. If you post out regularly on your channels, it’s a good idea to have an area where the marketing team can create regular content. What’s more, you can use the backdrop as a place to take “meet the team” photographs to help build trust with your audience.

To create your dedicated social media zone, start by thinking about your backdrop design. This could be something eye-catching like a brick-effect wall or biophilic display. Alternatively, you could go for something simple like a neutral-coloured background that’s located in a light, airy space.

If your budget allows it, another idea is to introduce some signage to the backdrop for increased brand awareness. As an example, as part of an office design and refurbishment project we worked on for Kent based Chartway, integrated its logo into a moss feature wall for a reception backdrop, while others like AD Clients favour illuminated signage to draw attention their logo (more on these later).

For added privacy, consider adapting a meeting room with good acoustics or investing in some portable screens. This will undoubtedly encourage your team to produce more content, whether it be news updates, video blogs, or anything relevant to your company.

Scandinavian Simplicity

Scandinavian office design is characterised by its minimalism, functionality, and use of natural materials. It is a popular choice for SMEs, as it creates a calm and inviting atmosphere that is conducive to productivity.

Here are some key aspects to consider:

  • Connection to Nature – Scandinavians have a strong connection to nature, and this is reflected in their interior design. Natural materials like wood and stone are commonly used in Scandi-style offices, as they create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
  • Neutral Colour Palette – Neutral colours such as white, grey, and beige are often used in Scandinavian inspired office design, as they create a sense of calm and serenity.
  • Natural Light – Scandinavian offices often let in plenty of natural light to help to create a bright and airy space. To ensure plenty of light is let into the building, make use of glass partitions instead of sun-blocking opaque materials.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a simple, stylish and effective office interior design scheme, then the Scandi theme is a great option. Who said minimalism was a thing of the past?

Illuminated Signage

Illuminated signage is a simple but effective way to give your office a lift. With your name up in lights, it shows you mean business, and the great thing is it works for all kinds of companies, from creative agencies to firms looking to project a corporate image.

For example, as part of a reception area refurbishment project for Kent based law firm Whitehead Monckton transformed its reception area with a stunning glowing sign, which perfectly complements the nearby LED lighting. Similarly, manufacturing company Wire Belt installed a backlit welcome sign to help create a warm, friendly atmosphere.

History Walls

Company history timeline wall graphic for an office refurbishment project in Kent.

If you’ve come a long way with your SME, then why not tell people your story? When working with Wire Belt on their office refurbishment we did just that by creating a company timeline on a wall next to its main working area.

The timeline marks key events in the company’s history, from its humble beginnings to its current success. It is a powerful reminder of how hard work, dedication, and good business acumen can pay off.

The timeline also sends a positive message to employees, reminding them of the company’s accomplishments and its commitment to excellence. This is a great way to keep employees motivated and ensure they’re excited to be a part of the next big step in the business’s journey.

Zoom Booths

If you’re operating with hybrid working, then your team is likely doing a lot of Zoom calls. The problem is that Zoom calls require privacy, but it’s not always possible to access meeting rooms during busy periods.

One solution is to introduce Zoom booths. Zoom booths are small, private spaces that are specifically designed for online meetings and calls. They typically have acoustic properties that help to block out noise, so you can focus on your conversation without distractions.

Zoom booths are a great option for SMEs that are looking for a way to improve workflow and productivity. They take up very little space, so they’re perfect for offices with limited square footage. They’re also relatively affordable, so they’re a cost-effective way to improve your workspace.

Statement Walls

Decorative Acoustics

Acoustic panels hung at the end of desks to create division of space in a corporate office. Acoustic panels hung at the end of desks to create division of space in a corporate office.
Modern office boardroom design with presentation screen Modern office boardroom design with presentation screen

When employees are constantly interrupted by noise, they inevitably have difficulty concentrating and completing their work. As such, it’s important to take steps to reduce noise, particularly in areas where there’s a lot of employee activity.

The materials you choose for your office design are key in preventing loud reverberations. For example, Chartway improved the acoustics in its meeting room by installing a wooden slatted wall/ceiling raft (see image above), which also serves as a decorative surround for the company’s presentation screen.

Likewise, hanging acoustic panels can dampen noise and provide aesthetic interest. Take Wirebelt’s bespoke panels, which reflect the company’s brand colours and include the company’s logo for added detail.

Plug and Play Office Furniture

Acoustic office chair with integrated power by OE Electronics Acoustic office chair with integrated power by OE Electronics
Frovi Retreat modular furniture solutions with integrated power. Frovi Retreat modular furniture solutions with integrated power.

If you’re looking for ideas beyond a standard open-plan desk configuration, plug and play furniture provides a more agile alternative. Plug and play furniture has integrated or attachable power points, giving you freedom from fixed wall sockets.

As the furniture’s arrangement is not dictated by the building’s electrical architecture, it makes for a truly mobile, versatile workspace. This is ideal for the age where employees want more from the office experience, as it will ensure they have more freedom and flexibility.

The flexibility will also allow you to easily change the layout if your needs change. For example, you may be looking to grow your team in future, so being able to move furniture items around can help to create more space.

See an example of plug and play furniture via our Workplace Design Trends blog.

Glass Partitions

Glazed office meeting rooms in the City of London Glazed office meeting rooms in the City of London
Glass office for company directors at Morgan Cargo in Ashford Glass office for company directors at Morgan Cargo in Ashford

Glass partitions are a staple of a good office design, especially for SMEs operating with a smaller building. By using glass instead of opaque materials, you can allow more light to pass through the building, making the space appear brighter and larger.

This can be seen in the example of We Soda, a London Office Fit Out Project we had the pleasure of working with them on.  We used glass partitions to create private executive spaces around the perimeter of their building. The combination of glass partitions, white walls, and large windows created a bright and open office floor.

Another example of using glass to optimise space is Morgan Cargo’s standalone glass executive office. This allows natural sunlight to flow into the building while also making the executives visible, sending the message that they’re accessible and open to communication.

Thanks for Reading our Office Design Ideas Blog!

If you’re one of the 5.5million small or medium sized enterprises in the UK, then we hope you’ve found our office design ideas helpful. Ultimately, the examples given show that SMEs can create truly stunning office spaces by considering their identity, thinking about employees, and embracing modern trends.

As a final takeaway, remember that the ideas presented here are just a starting point for your creative journey. The most important thing is to find what works for you and your team. So, get creative, have fun, and don’t forget to check out Rap’s projects for more inspiration!

Written by Chris Sparham

Office Refurbishment Services from Rap Interiors

At Rap Interiors, we have 30+ years’ experience transforming offices for ambitious SMEs. As an SME ourselves, we understand our clients’ needs and provide expert advice to create workspaces that match their ambitions. Whatever type of business you run, we’d love to hear more about your project and offer our design expertise to kick start your project journey.

To book a consultation, please call our friendly customer care team on 0333 600 1234 or fill out the form below with details of your project.