How to Design an Office for a Big Brand | Oktra
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  • How to Design an Office for a Big Brand

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  • Offices belonging to big brands have long been viewed as the embodiment of the brand and a second home for their staff. Made famous by the likes of Google for their thriving, inspirational workplaces, the office serves as an extension of the brand and brings people together.

    Getting these elements right for big brands is essential for long-term success – according to a Savills report in 2022, around 40% of large enterprise UK occupiers have remained at their current location for more than ten years. This helps establish an understanding of how big brands use their workplaces as part of a long-term business strategy.

    When it comes to designing an office for big brands, the processes and design approach are much the same as they would be for any other business, but the main difference stands out as making that workplace feel like the brand. The space must live and breathe the elements specific to the certain brand to make it feel unique.

    With consideration for emerging ways of working and the knock-on effect this has on business performance and talent attraction, big brands have been positioning their workplaces as a value-add to their staff for many years. Whether it is about adopting hybrid working or recalibrating existing offices, these are some of the key considerations for designing offices that encapsulate a brand.

  • Promoting the brand through office design

    Strong brands understand the essential nature of reinforcing clear and consistent guidelines throughout their spaces – building in longevity and flexibility to ensure the space can evolve as the company does whilst creating dynamic, immersive experiences for people entering the space. Building a brand is more than just logos and colour palettes though, a brand consists of an organisation’s internal and external experiences as core expressions of its identity.

  • Our work with adidas at their HQ in Herbal House was driven by the company wanting to create a headquarters that celebrated ‘one adidas’. They wanted an immersive space that united their brand, culture and people which meant that we had to use their internal brand strategy as a launchpad to ensure we embraced the values important to adidas. We hosted workshops with adidas’s design influencers to hit the mark with the user experiences. As part of the design strategy, we interviewed current employees, potential employees, clients and visitors and created a hierarchy of concepts to integrate into the environment.

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  • This helped achieve an industrial aesthetic that incorporated the heritage of the brand in their new London location. The brand elements were used as a way of injecting atmosphere and soul into the workplace, making it feel like an adidas space. It was also important to add UX journeys into the space and bring in creative messaging and experiential graphics to help immerse users in the space as soon as they enter the space. Workplace furniture also plays a role in creating the right brand atmosphere. Throughout the working areas and meeting spaces, we have installed a range of natural residential-inspired furniture to help create a warm, homely feel that fosters creativity.

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  • Attracting talent with office design

    One of the long-standing issues facing big brands is the war on talent. Attracting and retaining the best individuals within the respective sectors is something that will never go away due to its highly competitive nature. Big brands are creating high-performing workplaces that offer flexibility, connectivity and comfort to their staff and with the boom in remote and hybrid working, there is a distinct need for big brands to be able to hold an advantage over competitors.

    The challenge that employers face across the board, not only within big brand businesses, is the variation in working models and what that means to candidates. There is currently a talent shortage which means that candidates can pick and choose the business with a way of working that suits them best. In this initial stage of the return to work, there is a sense that this is not long-term, but it is certainly having an impact right now. Companies will decide what their preferred stance is but with so much change predicted to take place in working styles and habits in the coming years, employers are seeing success in turning their attention to employee experience.

  • According to Forbes, the millennial workforce will “want it all.” Based on findings from the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the influx of 4.5M millennials in the workplace between 2019 and 2029 will drive demand for “meaningful working relationships and connection, flexibility, autonomy and an inclusive and diverse work environment.” With these new demands for a greater workplace experience starting to emerge, a rounded workplace strategy is required to ensure that employee experience is enhanced, and that staff feel the benefits of a more productive working environment. This means that the in-office experience needs to be purposeful and engaging through increased collaboration spaces, better connectivity and designated social areas that help unite staff to build strong relationships at work.

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  • Big brands are also seeing success with creating destination offices outside of major cities and building high-specification offices in areas such as Reading and Cambridge that are acting as a lure to staff. Companies investing in their offices can transform a space to their exact specification to create working environments that are purpose-built for their people. This is the strategy that Gymshark used in creating their office campus in Solihull, with 3 workspaces in the same business park. It has proven to be hugely successful in the growth of its business, while also staying true to the roots of Founder & CEO, Ben Francis. Big brands have reaped the rewards of building their high-performance workspaces when it comes to talent attraction as they can create the exact environment that will benefit their people.

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  • How will big brands navigate hybrid working?

    Hybrid work has dominated discussions for companies across the UK with many companies still exploring the feasibility and benefits of the hybrid model. A 2022 CBRE study found that 38% of large enterprise occupiers were testing alternate occupancy models and designs.

    Several companies have already made their stances public with companies like Adobe, Starbucks and Apple all opting for varied hybrid working strategies – but opting for hybrid strategies, nonetheless. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said that “At a company of our size, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for how every team works best.”

  • Companies like Trainline have transformed their office to enable hybrid working and improve the ability for staff to collaborate whether they are remote or in the office. These changes were driven by staff engagement sessions which helped to develop an understanding of how the types of spaces their people needed. We added 50 types of agile workspace to each floor of the new Trainline office which gave staff a greater variety of work settings but importantly took the pressure off the meeting rooms which were needed for video calls with remote teams.

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  • There are design considerations for brands and the sectors they work in when it comes to designing the right type of office for your business, but that is where staff engagement helps elevate workplaces so that they are tailored to the people using it. There has been a noticeable shift in the balance, with the decision-making power sitting more with employees than it has in the past. Companies have a responsibility to get the most out of their people and the best way of achieving this is to engage with staff and understand their needs. With more competition for talent and the need for ways of attracting staff to the office, there is a push for creating immersive experiences that make the environment feel like the brand. Whether this is branding, values or enabling an energetic culture, big brand offices should have a tangible atmosphere.

    Working for a big brand is always going to have an extra pull factor for attracting new staff but with the developing workplace trends and new approaches to work, this isn’t enough. The office that proves its worth financially and operationally and getting the atmosphere and feel of the brand right is essential. Big brands are looking at ways to create complete environments and provide better amenities to staff that will help them get more out of their time in the office and build a unity with their values.

  • The Guide to the Hybrid Workplace

    If you’re looking to design your office for new ways of working, the Guide to the Hybrid Workplace offers guidance on ways to improve your office space in line with new workplace expectations.

    download now
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