Office Space Design

What are the Real Costs of Poor Office Space?

It’s probably fair to say that lots of businesses see their office space as a cost to the business. In many cases office space may be the highest single cost any business has after their payroll. But poor office space can also be the cause of a real drain on resources if it’s not set up well. Which means it could cost your business more than you think.

Quality office space brings many benefits to a business and when it’s done well it can create a positive environment where teams can flourish. In a recent article on Fast Company, Kay Sargent, director of workplace strategies at infrastructure solutions provider Lend Lease said, “In the last four to five years, we’ve all been focusing on sustainability and the impact technology has in an office. During this time, we’ve forgotten that we’re designing for people. Now there’s a real focus on trying to maximise human potential, performance, and productivity.”


Designing office space with people in mind has taken a major leap forward since 2014. According to Miguel McKelvey, cofounder and chief creative officer of coworking office space WeWork, productivity is about enabling collaboration in the workplace.  He said, “With the popularity of open floor plans, it’s certainly important for people to have a sense of privacy. People need a space that they can go to make a conference or Skype call.”

One important reason to make sure your office space is well designed is the rise in work place stress. According to the Office of National Statistics one in five employees is suffering from work related stress. Leading US expert on workspace, Monica Parker from Morgan Lovell said, “Every decision in the workplace has a profound impact on workforce wellbeing, and an office is the living, breathing representation of a company. It should be the duty of any socially responsible employer to create a healthy, engaging environment for their staff. And, while the recession has tightened purse strings, showing people how they are valued in hard time’s results in less sickness, higher retention and ultimately better performance.”

The increased cost associated with better office locations can often be outweighed by the considerable benefits that employees will find from easier access to transport links, often reducing journey times to work and the added benefit of great local amenities like cafes and shops. Improvements to the work-life balance can reap huge rewards for businesses that place their employees at the heart of the decision making process when seeking new office space.


Many businesses are embracing remote working, but not everyone wants to work from home, preferring to travel to a place to avoid the usual distractions around the house. Peter Thomson from the Henley Business School said, “People still need to meet to exchange ideas, so the office has to change to be more like a place to have meetings, rather than just doing the work.”

He went on to say, “Not everyone can or wants to work from home. Many of us actually enjoy travelling to a separate workplace, which can offer an opportunity to socialise, to make friends and, in some cases, even partners. Yet business owners would be wise to learn how changing their office environment can make their offices more happy, productive and creative.”

One of the more diverse elements affecting productivity can be smell. In 2014 office provider Avanta commissioned a team led by Ruth Mastenbroek the former president of the British Society of Perfumers, to create Ascent, a bespoke scent designed to improve brain activity. “Smell is the most powerful of the senses, and is best able to influence brain activity,” says Mastenbroek. “Aromatherapy probably isn’t the first tool you’d think of to stimulate your business productivity, but perhaps it should be.”

So the real cost of badly designed and not well placed office space can be the huge impact on productivity and staff retention, two important issues that can have a significant impact of the sales of a business and ultimately customer satisfaction.

This year we have looked extensively at both office location and office space design, highlighting the importance of both to the success of businesses all over the UK.


You can read our articles on location and office space design by clicking below:

Office Location, Office Location, Office Location

Top Tips for Choosing the ideal Office Space

About the Author

Stephen Moore is a writer and marketing consultant supporting businesses in the commercial property sector. Find out more about Stephen at Google+.

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