Our new Spotlight series will focus on a different area within our business model – shining a light on topical themes, trends and opinions of key decision makers at Storey.
To kickstart the series, our inaugural blog features Storey design lead Karoline Baumer. We asked Karoline all the key considerations and challenges around designing office space for our customers.
Q: How does Storey work on a new development with different businesses in mind?
Karoline: In the early stages of developing a new Storey site, there is plenty of strategic thinking around the most suitable design for our offices. Before deciding on our final layout, we test different scenarios in size and fit out to ensure all the elements needed are in the optimum position.
As part of this, we ask ourselves: how do we create a layout that allows attractive set-ups for all ways of working? What is the best variety of office sizes to appeal to a wide range of customer groups? How do we allow for the business to expand its space if needed?
Q: How does the Storey design team work with its customers?
Karoline: I always like to refer to our vacant offices as a blank canvas for the customer as we use neutral colours throughout, giving the customer full creative reign. Most of our customers come to us with a rough idea and requirements that they want to see in their space, so we work together to curate the best design for their needs.
During initial conversations, we try to establish the customer’s way of working and their preferred office culture. It helps to ‘get under the skin’ of their brand and how they operate as a business. We establish their needs by asking questions such as: how much storage is needed, what meeting room requirements do they have, is the business client facing and is a reception area needed? Understanding the customer’s brand and culture is essential when creating highly tailored spaces.
Our design consultancy is a fixed part of the customer onboarding process and includes: space planning, branding, furniture procurement and the user experience within their space. At Storey we offer flexible office spaces and our unique modular system allows us to chop and change the format of each office space, so it serves our customer’s needs.
Q: During the design process, do you provide bespoke or pre-ordered interior items?
Karoline: At Storey we offer both. We provide our customers with a curated furniture menu showing options of different styles, finishes and price ranges. But if a customer is looking for something more specific, we also have furniture consultants who are able to propose bespoke items.
The same applies for design in the customers office to showcase their brand identity. We work with a graphic designer who is able to develop bespoke designs, so there is no limit to the possibilities in our customers.
Q: Do you face any common challenges during the design planning process?
Karoline: It usually comes down to timings! Most customers would like to move in as soon as possible.
Lead times for materials and furniture can often be lengthy. Luckily, we have a set of trusted and established contractors and suppliers who are brilliant at working within short deadlines.
Q: How design can make office space more collaborative?
Karoline: The first step is to ask yourself: what does collaboration mean for your team? Some businesses cannot go without screens or whiteboards for internal meetings, whereas others may require lots of display surfaces for product samples.
Providing multi-use set ups tend to work really well. For example, a high back sofa group can work for a 1:1 meeting or coffee catch up, as well as if you need a little more privacy briefly for a video call.
But the best intended design will only work if the business has a collaborative culture from the top down. Design and culture often go hand in hand, and the best design enhances a positive culture.
Q: What are the key design trends predicted for office spaces for 2022?
Karoline: Hybrid working is an ongoing trend in a Covid recovering era. As a result of changing work patterns, many businesses are rethinking their office space, adding breakout and collaboration areas, quiet spaces and phone pods to support hybrid working models. These are great first steps to create a workplace that supports hybrid working models.
Companies are also beginning to consider the carbon footprint and environmental impact of their office space. At Storey we are constantly reviewing ways to reduce our impact on the environment. In terms of designing customer spaces, we use a flexible partitioning system to continuously reuse when building and redesigning rooms. We are always on the hunt for more sustainable and locally sourced options, our carpets are made from 100% recycled ocean and landfill plastic.
Q: What’s the best thing businesses find about designing a new space?
Karoline: Moving into a new space gives businesses the opportunity to start from scratch. I think it is a great time to ask: what has and hasn’t worked well in previous office space?
This helps companies to create a clear vision for what they are looking for in a new space. It adds so much value to include employees in this process as teams might face different challenges in the existing space. A customer-facing team might have totally different requirements to the space than their colleagues from IT.
Q: If you had to summarise, what would you say are the three best investments to make in office space?
Karoline: It’s really important to provide a variety of working spaces to aid productivity. For example, offices should include quieter, more private areas to allow team members to jump on a confidential call or concentrate without being distracted by background noise. Phone booth cubicles are a great way to achieve this.
Electronically adjustable desks are worth the investment for the wellbeing of staff, and we provide this as standard in many Storey spaces.
And of course, a great coffee machine!
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