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An office space is one of the biggest expenses for businesses. From rental costs to utility bills to finding suitable equipment, there are numerous factors that impact financial performance.

With so much capital being invested, it’s important that businesses take steps to ensure a good return. This means identifying ways to optimise the design to reduce outgoings and increase value.

Indeed, design decisions are intrinsically linked to ROI (Return on Invenstment), as they can impact the office footprint, operational costs, staff retention, and productivity. All of these are key factors in optimising financial health, so it’s important to assess the design accordingly.

In this blog, we take a closer look at these factors while offering actionable tips to optimise your space. So, are you ready to unlock the potential of your workspace? Here are seven office design ideas to maximise ROI…

Design for Wellbeing

According to AXA, the UK economy lost an estimated £28bn due to poor mental health at work in 2022. With people struggling with burnout, work-related stress, and general poor mental health, businesses lost 23.3m working days.

While this is a complex issue, one way businesses can help tackle poor mental health is to create a suitable working environment. Here are some wellbeing-boosting ideas:

Consider neurodiversity – As there is no “standard” brain, a one-size-fits-all office could make some employees less productive. This, in turn, could lead to stress if they are struggling to manage the workload. To combat this, create an office with a range of spaces that support different working styles, like Hudl in London.
Foster a community spirit – When employees are struggling, interactions with colleagues can help to pull them through tough times. To encourage these exchanges, consider introducing a range of public areas that enhance opportunities for conversation. For example, Classic Collection offers Starbucks-inspired banquette seating, a comfy lounge, and an auditorium to boost morale.
Boost natural light – Creating a bright, vitamin D-boosting space is good for both physical and mental health. Combined with biophilic elements like moss walls, you can create a calming, meditative atmosphere that promotes wellbeing. For inspiration, check out Morgan Cargo’s office, which makes use of glass to allow light to flow through the building.

In addition to boosting attendance levels, designing for wellbeing can help you to retain staff. Losing staff can be costly, so creating an employee-centric space will undoubtedly be a worthwhile investment.

Related content: Office Design Trends for 2024

Boost in-House Collaboration

Good communication and collaboration are key to the success of every business. When they break down, the consequences can be damaging in terms of productivity and revenue.

Take construction company Laing O’Rourke as an example. The firm has abandoned remote working after a challenging 2023 financial performance, with planning chief Nick Smallwood citing a lack of “face-to-face connectivity and collaboration,” as a part of the problem.

Similarly, Google and other tech giants have been encouraging staff to return to the office recently. For Google’s part, its chief people officer Fiona Cicconi said, “there’s just no substitute for coming together in person.”

When optimising your space, consider the different styles of collaboration. Here are some examples:

Social collaboration – Introducing social settings can build a strong team ethic and encourage spontaneous chats that spark creative ideas. These could be anything from a pair of armchairs in an office nook to a kitchen island with stools.
Focused collaboration – Offering private, distraction-free office spaces can help to push innovation and expedite workflow. Take a look at Chartway’s meeting room for an example, which includes a timber slat feature that helps to absorb sound.
Skill sharing – For skill sharing, you can go for a simple training room with a presentation screen and desks. Alternatively, workplace furniture supplier Connection has some great solutions, including auditorium seating with flexible configuration options.
Scrum zones – Ideal for creative brainstorming, scrum zones can be located out in the open or in a private setting. Ideally, the zone will be situated around a whiteboard, which may be portable, mounted, or come in the form of an adaptable flip table.

If you want to strike a good balance between remote and in-office work, collaborative settings are still very important. According to research form Leeds University, only a third of workers will come into the office for high-concentration work, so team spaces can serve as a magnet.

Create a Space for Subletting

Subletting is ideal if you’re sitting on too much space and want to find a tenant to occupy it. This means you can reclaim part of the rental costs, which of course strengthens your balance sheet.

If you’ve got a large office footprint, now could be a good time to sublet. According to research by Leesman, corporate businesses need 30% to 40% less office space, which has resulted in many downsizing. Many firms with large footprints have already taken advantage of this by subletting to companies vacating larger offices.

If you are considering subletting, make sure you have enough space for your own team to operate efficiently. As pointed out by Envoy CEO Larry Gadeo, if the space is at 100% capacity, then there may be a lack of meeting rooms and desks.

You should also consider the work involved in setting up a sublet space. For example, it may require new furniture, additional air con units, and adaptations to power outlets and lighting.

Analyse How Employees Use the Space

If your lease is expiring soon, then it’s a good idea to analyse how your employees use your existing office. This may highlight that your team needs less space to work efficiently, which can help to inform your next move.

These days, you can install desk monitoring systems to get a snapshot of how your space is being used. This will give you an understanding of working behaviours and demand for specific types of rooms, which will help you predict how much space you need.

Alternatively, you could carry out an audit based on your own observations and employee surveys. Start by walking through the space to identify areas that are underutilised or overcrowded. Then, ask employees questions relating to favoured working styles, preferences for certain spaces, and the desire for new features.

Go Agile

If you are operating with excess space, consider switching to a working style and layout that requires less square footage. Your layout impacts how much office space you need, so it’s worth thinking carefully about this before investing.

One approach that can potentially save space is agile working. With this approach, employees can choose from a variety of “activity” zones, which are situated in an open-plan layout. Open plan layouts generally require less space than traditional offices with closed areas, so it could be a worthwhile change.

With a reduced square footage, this can lead to reductions in leasing costs and savings on utilities, maintenance, and cleaning. Furthermore, agile spaces are usually pretty cool (just take a look at Hudl’s), which could lead to improved employee retention.

Invest for the Long Term

In our last blog article on planning an office fit out, Rap Interiors director Parry Anderson advised that it can be beneficial to spend more on certain elements like furniture. This, he says, ensures longevity and reduces the chance of spending more later to replace or renew items.

Indeed, investing for the long term is another great way to maximise the ROI of office interiors. When choosing office furniture solutions, look for products with longer warranties (five years or more is ideal), as this indicates confidence in the product’s longevity.

Investing in the long term also means finding a space that supports your company’s growth plans. If you do anticipate growth, we recommend devising an adaptable layout that reduces the need to demolish and redesign the interiors. For example, an open plan space with reconfigurable modular furniture is ideal for this purpose.

Reduce Operational Costs

When identifying ways to reduce operational costs, making your space more energy efficient is a good start. While this can be as simple as communicating good housekeeping standards to employees, your office design can contribute too.

Here are some ideas:

Create laptop spaces – Also known as “touchdown” spaces, these are typically laptop-centric, informal settings like a lounge, quiet room, or collaborative space. Laptops generally use less energy than desktop computers, so touchdown points offer a smart and fun way to reduce the bills.
Reduce touch points – By introducing automated lighting and temperature controls, employees needn’t worry about forgetting to turn things off! Consider connecting occupancy sensors to utility systems, as these can cleverly adjust settings in accordance with attendance levels.
Daylight harvesting – Daylight harvesting uses natural light to reduce the need for electric lighting. As previously mentioned, used transparent materials for interior partitions to ensure natural light pours into the building.

By taking steps like these, you can save on operational costs and show that you’re passionate about sustainability. The less energy you use, the less we have to produce, meaning you can make a positive contribution to the environment.

Final Thoughts on the ROI of Office Interiors

As you can see, there are plenty of great ways to maximise ROI through office design. With some careful planning and wise investment decisions, you can create an environment that boosts both employee satisfaction and financial performance.

Indeed, everyone shares in the spoils of a good office design. For those working in the space, they will experience improved wellbeing and working conditions, which will undoubtedly make them more productive and committed. For businesses, combining employee-centric design with a cost-effective layout and practical features will ensure their investment is worthwhile.

Written by Chris Sparham

Are You Looking to Optimise Your Office Space?

Whether you’re on the move or looking to make the most of your existing office, Rap Interiors can help. With over 30 years’ experience carrying out office fit outs and refurbishments, we will ensure you make the most of your investment by creating a stunning, success-driven space.

To arrange a consultation, please call our friendly team on 0333 600 1234 or fill out the enquiry form below.