Taking your staff with you – the start of an interior design project.

You’ve decided a new office interior is on the cards – you need improved facilities and a reinvigorated workspace. For the most part you can let the professionals make things happen, but while the experts can schedule the work, choose the finishes and do the graft – how do you make sure that you take your employees on the office interior fit out journey with you? And how do you know what you need?

It’s always said that the best office interior designs mirror the values and strategic objectives of the businesses that occupy those spaces, all helping to increasing the productivity, loyalty and engagement of staff. So it’s easy to see that if your employees love their environment, you’re well on track.

At Claremont we’re about to undertake our own office refurbishment, something we’ve not done for more than 15 years and we’ll be doing it with our 90 strong Warrington team in occupation.

Quite often we start our clients’ interior design journies with workplace consultancy – a process that helps organisations understand their real rather than assumed office space needs. Understanding the relationship between business objectives and space is crucial to making the right property and therefore interior design decisions.

The process comprises interviews, audits, surveys and plans to understand how work is done and how people, process, technology and place impact on each other. While we didn’t employ the full workplace consultancy process, we have made good use of some of the tools – in particular the employee survey.

We don’t want to assume what our team wants – we want to involve our team of interior designers, M&E experts, marketers and more and find out that they really need. Of course, we’re not suggesting that every employee’s list of wants can or should be accommodated, but rather that this process creates an opportunity to capture opinion, check what facilities are needed and ensure you have a workforce that is invested in the changes.

For businesses where you’re still in occupation during the work this is particularly important, as it helps staff to understand the need to ‘bear with you’ during the disruption. For those businesses moving into a shiny new space, it helps staff to feel excited and motivated about the change to come.

It’s particularly interesting for us to go through the process we use with our clients first hand and the online anonymous employee survey has been enlightening for us.

We asked a series of questions such as the main areas of importance, performance gaps (what areas of the office work well, which don’t) and what they’d like to change. We include questions focused on accessibility to technology, refreshments, breakout, downtime, car parking, meeting rooms and a whole lot more, all designed to establish how our employees feel about the space, resources and atmosphere. It’s not uncommon to include questions about the brand and business values too although having recently completed a large internal brand project, we left that out of ours.

The process has value of course, but it is the data that provides the answers and the foundations for your new office interior design. It’s the data that will tell you whether open plan is working for your team; if poor acoustics are causing stress or a lack of meeting rooms is an everyday complaint. It will also help you and your interior designer to understand your working style and prioritise where your budget is best spent.

For Claremont we’ve just undertaken the survey with our staff and are now making sense of what it tells us. It’s too soon to talk detail but it has confirmed what we thought about the way we work and organise ourselves. Claremont has a fluid-working persona – a transient team that isn’t always office based, works a lot in teams and which likes to use a variety of different spaces to the get the job done. This will be at the heart of our design solution and we’ll be sure to share more about that with you in the coming weeks.

There is no doubt that we will seek to engage our employees much more than the average business – not least because it helps our team to understand the journey we take our clients on – but our objective is the same as for any of our clients: to create an environment that reflects the brand, supports efficient and productive working and that motivate and inspires our team.

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