Maximise your office
15 May, 2024
How to maximise your office space and make it work for you
Offices are a big investment for any organisation, representing an upfront overhead that needs to be commensurate with the profitability of the business.

Yes, you need to have enough space for everyone to work with the right facilities.

However, it is also important that investment in your office space and office design is maximised, putting your space to the best use possible and even making it an asset to your organisation.

Maximising your office space works on two broad levels:

  • Ensuring office space isn’t wasted
  • Ensuring the use of office space is optimised

Flexible working has given many organisations the opportunity to rethink the way they use their offices, and in lots of ways it’s challenged our thinking so that we use space better. For some businesses, like our client, JTI, it’s allowed them to move from very large industrial estates in the suburbs to smaller, more central city locations.

By redirecting their office space investment into quality over quantity, through maximising the benefits of hybrid working, they have facilitated a higher degree of luxury and staff wellbeing in the workplace itself, also improving their appeal to new talent.

How to maximise your office space and make it work for you

Office space planning

The starting point for maximising your office space is to understand exactly what you want from it – the tasks you need to perform in it, the number of people you need to accommodate, the tools you require and what you think those elements will look like over the next three to five years. In essence, space planning is the foundation for maximising your office space.

For example, when working with a world-leading consultancy firm, one of the challenges was to fit 60 offices, 14 meeting rooms and three boardrooms into the space. All the offices needed to be similar so they could be bookable and offer the same experience for every client and consultant.

We achieved this by creating standalone rooms with lids that sailed underneath the mechanics of the ceiling. That meant that the layout could be more organic instead of simply delivering a series of boxes. We also implemented soft curved features to work with the flow of the space, facilitating the office requirements whilst creating a sense of softness and elegance.

Maximise your office

Understanding how the office works

The modern world of work talks a lot about hot desking, collaborative workspaces and so forth. These are important elements in creating an agile office. However, they are the result of a much more fundamental point of design, and that’s understanding the specifics of how you want your office to work. To make hot desking and offices that offer different types of workspaces perform well for your business, they have to be implemented with a key understanding of numbers and operations.

For example, JTI wanted to move away from their 1:1 desk to staff ratio, to a space that enabled hot desking, collaborative meetings and video calls. We worked closely with them to make sure they had a process in place to match the new desk count, that the team understood how the space worked, and that they had appropriate facilities so the team could store their personal items safely.

The idea was that each team would come in on the same day to work together. Therefore, each team has its own pod within an open-plan office, complete with a hot desk setting, phone booths for quick meetings or private calls, a meeting room, an open/informal collaboration space, and a meeting point for quick drinks. Each floor also had a central dress point with lockers so that staff could store their belongings safely, which also made it easy for people to come to work and removed barriers to being present.

Maximise your office

Multifunctional workspaces

Another important consideration in maximising office space is to look at which spaces are not used all the time or which requirements are not relevant for every minute of every day. With the right planning and design, spaces like boardrooms, terraces, large meeting rooms and dining areas can all be created as multifunctional and multifaceted areas without ever feeling as though the experience is compromised.

For example, large meeting rooms can be divided by moveable walls to create smaller ones depending on the requirement for each occasion. They can also optimised for use as town hall meeting areas and event spaces with the addition of modular furniture, retractable screens and even innovative storage solutions. Central to implementing these capabilities, however, is thinking at the point of planning and design about everything from technical requirements (down to plug sockets and power needs) to bespoke joinery.

In a beautiful example, we worked with global tech company MSQ, where instead of a standard tea point, we created an impressive coffee bar to rival the most stylish in London. It’s one of the first things you see as you walk into the office, and also acts as the reception desk, creating a warm welcome and an immediate sense of inclusion.  Behind the coffee bar is a relaxed seating area that wraps around the wall thanks to custom joinery in a low-level bleacher style seating. This is a multifunctional space that can be used for team meetings as well as being a staff breakout area.    

Maximise your office

Modular furniture

One client, an umbrella company for multiple brands, had a space which was used for a constant programme of events including product launches, presentations and large team meetings. They wanted a floor that could be used for lots of different occasions, so we designed a highly flexible space with modular furniture that can be moved around and reconfigured.

Storage solutions

Sometimes, thinking outside the box and creating custom solutions is the best way to maximise the space. This is where it really comes down to understanding your brand, and it’s especially true when it comes to storage and seating, both of which are an ongoing and ever evolving requirement. For one client, a global organisation behind multiple retail brands, there was a need to use spaces for different product launches, events and so forth, and storage was an ongoing challenge as they accrued each season’s product. One way we helped optimise the space was by designing a custom-made, moveable stand that functions as a wall behind which working paraphernalia can be hidden on a daily basis. However, it also operates as a stand for mannequins, pedestals for bags and shoes, multi-level seating for shows and presentations, and storage boxes as required.

Moveable walls

Ensuring spaces were used as much as possible, and not left empty more than necessary, when working with a leading law firm, one of the requirements to optimise the space was to include a flexible meeting-suite-meets-social-space. We achieved this by including moveable walls and a variety of seating, as well as a dedicated catering pantry separate from the main kitchen for serving front-of-house meetings.

Maximise your office

Planning for the future with office design

One of the things that a lot of clients come to us seeking help with is creating an office that works for them and their team today but that will also adapt well as they grow without needing a complete refit. The idea is to have an office that doesn’t feel compromised in the present, but that speaks to their growth plans.

This isn’t just economically sensible, but ensures today’s team feels fully engaged and supported, while tomorrow’s is accounted for. On the one hand, a beautiful space built for your current team gives them the tools and experience they need to do a great job, but seeing a space that’s designed for growth, but without wasting it in the short-term, shows you’re serious about your progress. Designing with that development in mind is also more environmentally friendly and will reduce disruption down the line.

Again, office design with details such as moveable walls and modular furniture can be extremely helpful in achieving that goal. At Maris we often encourage clients to think about future growth as part of their design – whether it’s designing for disassembly and reuse of materials, or implementing moveable walls and furniture so that teams don’t feel they’re sitting in a space that’s too big for them, but so that desks can be easily added as required.

For example, working with an impact investment firm experiencing rapid growth, we optimised the main work area with modular furniture, creating an impressive workspace for the team, but mindful of the future. Moveable screens and planters were incorporated, adding plant life and visual details whilst offering the opportunity to add more desks as required.  

When people think about maximising their office space, the focus is often on the visual details alone. However, the magic happens in the depth of understanding the team, the space and the future vision of the organisation. At Maris, we take the time to understand all three, meaning your investment goes further, your experience is better, and your space works harder for you, your team and your business.

Want to maximise your office space?

Speak to the team at Maris