When designing an office space for a hypergrowth company, there are several important factors to consider.
First and foremost is the physical space – how much space do you need and how do you design it so your office can grow and evolve with you?
But, designing an office space for hypergrowth goes far beyond spatial considerations. From helping companies create a unified company culture to attracting top talent, there are many challenges faced by businesses experiencing rapid growth that a well-designed office can help overcome.
Below, we explore the key principles to follow when designing an office space for a scaling company.
Give yourself space to scale
Giving yourself space to scale might not technically come under the ‘design’ bracket, but it is fundamental for companies experiencing rapid growth.
No one wants to go through the intricacies of an office move only to outgrow the space a year later and have to move again. However, getting the balance right – between having enough room and too much room – can be tricky. Overestimating the amount of space your business needs can have a negative effect on your profitability and underestimating the amount of space can leave employees feeling cramped and restricted.
Really, giving yourself space to scale is all about planning for the future – and this is something we spend a lot of time thinking about with our clients. While it can be tricky for companies experiencing rapid growth to take a step back and focus on the bigger picture, it is fundamental to a company’s continued success.
When we designed Gymshark’s new HQ, a lot of the discussions were around creating a space that would enable them to effectively quadruple in size. Sean Espinasse, Oktra North’s Design Director, comments that “actually, a lot of the design was about making the space feel full, even with only 150 people in it.“
Start by predicting your headcount in five years’ time and consider how you’d like the space to be used. Will people need private spaces to focus on high concentration work, or do you want to encourage collaboration and task-focussed activity-based work? How many workspaces, meeting spaces and support spaces will you need to accommodate your team in the near future? If you’re unsure how this translates into square feet, use our office space calculator to find out.
Today, employees want the flexibility to work from anywhere, at any time. And this demand is being met country-wide. In fact, only 6% of British employees purport to work the traditional 9-5 day. This provides rapidly-scaling businesses with massive scope to accommodate future team members with less floorspace than you might expect.
Think about it – if employees can work from home or at a coworking facility, at a time that suits the individual and the business, the number of desks doesn’t have to equate to the number of employees. So, your people are happy – because they can work at a time and location that suits them – and there is less pressure on the business to accommodate a growing team in the current office space.
Of course, for this to work effectively the workplace has to be designed with agility in mind. It needs to be adaptable, so that it can accommodate everyone, no matter how many people come to work in the office on any given day. Open plan workspaces, non-bookable agile areas, modular furniture and smart technology are great tools for enabling flexibility without compromising on communication or productivity.
We recently transformed four-floors in the historic Herbal House, an original printworks building, to accommodate Photobox Group’s growing team. Their new workspace will enable Photobox Group to grow quite significantly within the space. Monika Passey, one of the main designers, explains that “the space is enabled for 550-600 people to work there, but because they’ve been trained to work in an agile way, they won’t feel that pain when they grow from 450 to 600.”
Focus on user experience
It goes without saying, a company’s people and clients are central to the success of any business. And, as 85% of British employees agree that visitors and clients make a judgement of a business based on its workplace, putting these people at the centre of the design is vital for companies experiencing rapid growth.
Today, we live in a world driven by experiences. From Samsung’s new experience-led store to art installations that are ‘made-for-Instagram’, the experience economy is transforming the way we live. And the workplace is no exception. Last year we saw offices designed with rock climbing walls, slides, prosecco taps and cupcake-filled vending machines: all in an attempt to create a positive user experience for clients and employees.
But, creating a positive workplace experience doesn’t have to be so gimmicky. Really, in terms of putting your people at the centre of the design, it’s all about creating workspaces that enable productivity. “People want the tools they need to do well; they want to be brilliant at work” comments our Creative Director, Nic Pryke.
In terms of putting your clients at the centre of the design, you want to create workspaces that reflect your business and its culture. It takes one tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger, and the same can be said for your company. So, the workplace should be designed to reflect your company: its culture, values and ethos. If the workplace does this effectively, it will automatically attract the right clients for your business.
Attract and retain talent
For many companies experiencing rapid growth, attracting and retaining talent is one of the most important considerations. According to The World Economic Forum, attracting and retaining talent is actually one of the top three priorities for growth and hypergrowth companies.
For many rapidly-growing companies, who may not have the established brand stature of more mature corporations, a well-designed workplace can be a powerful tool for attracting talent. In fact, in our Annual Workplace Report, 79% of employees agreed they would be more inclined to covet a position at a company with a well-designed workplace. When focussing on Millennials, this number increased to 85%. Seeing as Millennials are set to make up 75% of the UK workforce by 2025, companies investing in a well-designed workplace will attract the top talent now and in the future. Consider what your workspace says to potential employees as they walk through the door. Critical to Gymshark’s growth was delivering an environment that signalled to any potential employee, “we have space ready for you – we’re serious now,“ recalls Sean Espinasse, Design Director.
In terms of retaining talent, putting your people at the centre of the design will enable you to do this naturally. Give your people the tools they need to do their jobs effectively, focus on employee wellbeing, consider implementing the WELL Building Standard or the Fitwel Standard and work on creating a unified company culture. It really is that simple.
Use smart technology
Gone are the days of a simple ‘office building’; today, the focus is on ‘smart buildings’.
Smart buildings collect and share data, allowing companies to understand when and how their space is being used. As you can imagine, this is an incredibly powerful tool for companies looking to utilise every square foot of floor space. In Gymshark’s HQ, we installed the first Human Centric smart lighting system in the UK – allowing Gymshark to continually asses and optimise their office space as the company evolves.
Smart technology also provides employees with greater autonomy over their work. For many companies with a fluctuating or rapidly growing headcount, providing everyone with an individual desk just isn’t an option. While ‘hot-desking’ isn’t a particularly favoured term in most offices, you’d be surprised at how much technology can ease any worries team members might have. New hot-desking apps allow employees to locate a free desk or meeting room from their phone, and even book a workspace on the way to the office. In fact, between the rise of remote work, open office plans, and shared coworking spaces, hot-desking has become a staple – if not a trend – of modern working life. The phenomenon allows people to work when and where they want, boosts productivity and facilitates connectivity.