Deciding how to redesign your office can sometimes be tricky, especially when your working with limited space, budget and multiple staff members. We reached out to a few interior designers to find out what advice they could offer when it comes to Office Design and how to make your office stand out from the rest. 

Thanks to Jordie Gleeson from Turton Oliver, Alexander Wastney from Designwell and Brian Squair from Chow Hill for offering some exceptional office design tips.



Jordie Gleeson from Turton Oliver

1. Create an unforgettable first impression with your reception area:

Having a well-designed reception area can make or break the overall office mood. Reception areas are a great place to go big, add some colour or a feature wall you love. Have the most comfortable furniture so your guest feel immediately at home. This is also the perfect opportunity to inject your branding into the space and tell your guest who your business is and what you’re about. It gives you the ability to start selling your product/service before anyone has even said a word. You would be surprised how the first impression of a great office design can actually increase business as well.

2. Create comfort and varied working environments:

More and more people are working remotely from the comfort of their own homes. With the hours put into work, creating a comfortable environment that is a little less corporate and a little more personal is something to consider. Selecting the right pieces of office furniture that offers varied postures for comfortable work. Whether it is an ergonomic office chair, a plush sofa with ottomans to kick up your feet, giving employees options of where and how they want to work makes a difference in work efficiency. Apart from ergonomic furniture, lighting also has a huge role when it comes to office interior design. One light definitely does not fit all. To increase productivity, bright, white lights help simulate daylight which makes us feel more awake and focused. Staring at a computer screen can cause fatigue, so don’t forget about dim task lighting to help give the eye a break from the brightness.

3. Don’t be afraid of colour:

Commercial interiors give you the opportunity to be bold and have some fun with colour. It’s best used in areas such as meeting rooms or reception areas where people won’t need to stare at it constantly. Be bold in your choices but sparse in your application to prevent it from becoming too overwhelming. Colour is another great opportunity to communicate your branding and company values into people using the office. Use colours that link with your company brand or colours that reflect the values of your business. For example if you’re brand is energetic and playful then you may use clean bright colours such as yellows.

4. Encourage productivity for your employees:

Office layout is possibly the most important part of design in commercial interior design projects. Whether we’re talking about a small company size or under ten employees or one that is a couple of hundreds and growing, being mindful of how space best promotes productivity is key. Positive changes to a work space can improve productivity by up to 17 percent. Creative office spaces lead to positive performance of employees. While quiet areas for concentrated work are essential. So is offering engaging and collaborative areas in the workspace.

5. Keep your office tidy:

In smaller and more open plan offices, it is important to create a great first impression with visitors. Having a tidy, clutter free office is a great way to make the space seem well thought out and help it to feel larger. Invest in functional storage systems that keep documents and items hidden away from plain sight. Even unnecessary cabling is messy and can be fixed with wireless systems. By simply clearing surfaces and filing items away you can start on the road to having a well thought out and aesthetic office.


Alexander Wastney from Designwell

1. Design right for your work type

Dont take a cookie-cutter approach to your office space. Take the time to understand what productive work looks like for your business and make sure the space fits for that work. If it's creativity - is this the kind of creative thinking that comes out of uninterrupted deep thought, or the dynamism of different punchy ideas offered in a group setting? Is it when information is readily processed, passed and shared between teams? Once you understand this well, set about matching your space to support the right kind of work - not all offices are equal.

2. Use the full stud height

Did you know you think more creatively with high ceilings? Exposed ceilings not only reduces cost of suspended ceiling treatments but creates visual interest and inspires fresh thinking.

3. Au naturale

Wherever you can, bring the outdoors in. Plants bring vibrancy and fresh energy to your workplace and help keep air cleaner and better quality. Using timbers - particularly on desktops - helps reduce stress levels.

4. Be particular about desk placement

Avoid setting up workstations so that you are looking into the light (your eyes will find it hard to expose for the screen) or with a bright light behind you creating reflections on your screen. Also, make sure users have some protection to their back - this helps people be at ease in their work.

5. Use curves well

Humans and human forms go together well. A curve on an end of a table not only softens it, but it helps for more natural placement of people for a conversation and offers flexibility for larger or smaller groups.

Bonus tip: break up heights!

There’s nothing worse than a sea of desks when you walk into an office. If you don’t want to commit to sit-stand desks, using other furniture to offer higher options can provide ways for people to work in a different posture, as well as creating visual variation in a space that helps cue ‘neighbourhoods’ or zones for people to gather and work.


Brian Squair from Chow Hill

1. Understand the concept before drilling into the detail.

Too often, clients can see something on TV or in a magazine and want it. It could be a style of chair or a green wall etc. Be clear about the big picture first. What environment to we want to create? Agree on the main idea, then begin to explore the details that lend to that idea.

2. Spend time engaging with users and stakeholders.

It is so important that the users, the staff, the collaborators, have an opportunity to provide input to the design idea. It may be the staff or it may be the clients and customers, but listening to what is important to them assists in gaining a broader buy-in and a more genuine process of change.

3. Do a gap analysis.

How do we work now vs how do we wish to work in the future?

The organisation or business needs to understand where it is going and what it aspires to. This informs the way a commercial fit-out should be designed. Enabling a better way of working involves the careful consideration of the work that will be done tomorrow, not today. A commercial fit out needs to support the activity and provide the environment that people enjoy to work in. A gap analysis leads to an understanding of what is needed in an effective design.

4. Understand the technology needs.

Technology is fundamental to the efficient working and therefore to spatial design of commercial fit-outs.

What do you want people in the workplace to do? Do you want them to work in a flexible way, to be mobile? What devices will they be using?

Good advice around the supply and appropriateness of technology is vital to consider at an early stage and be designed-in, not bolted-on later

5. Consider the cultural history or heritage related to your site, your building and your organisation.

We always recommend researching the uniqueness of the environment within which we design. What is the history of the place? What about te ao Maori and Manawhenua significance? Then perhaps there is the celebration of the business’ or organisation’s history to be featured. We have found rich design ideas and enjoyment in this aspect of the design journey.



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