So, deep down you know that it’s time for a new workplace. Your employee count has doubled over the past year, you just received a nice round of funding and basically you are bursting at the seams.

It’s time for a “grown-up” office space that supports the way your employees work and fits with the strategic initiatives you’ve just refined. But what to do? There are so many considerations to take into account and you want to plan an amazing space that strengthens your brand and culture but doesn’t break the bank. Luckily, there are literally more options in the market that ever before and with smart, strategic and forward-looking planning you have choices.

But there are a few basics that might help point you in the right direction. Steelcase has tons of research on how people work today and has translated their findings into insight on how to develop strategic workplaces – such as a white paper entitled, “How place fosters innovation”. But in order to save you a few moments of time, we’ve compiled 8 key principles that we think you should consider when planning a new office space.

1.  A workplace needs to be a destination: Inspiring, inviting and comfortable.

Today, people can choose to work anywhere, anytime – and may prefer to work at home or at the local café. Creating a workplace where your valuable real estate investment is fully utilized and enjoyed is the key to bringing people together to enhance culture and support innovation. Adding lounge spaces, quiet rooms, multipurpose rooms and a work café throughout the space along with resident workstations and team spaces, gives everyone an array of options that will inevitably boost productivity.


2.  Allow employees choice and control in how they work.

Some people prefer to work at a desk while others love nothing more than a comfortable lounge seat. Things can get very complicated when you extrapolate from there. But, the key to appeasing different personality types, different generations and different types of work is to offer different postures and places throughout your space – designing an ecosystem if you will. That way everyone can choose the right space for the work they need to do at that moment in time.


3.  Strategic workspaces are designed to balance both collaboration and focus work.

Too often in the open plan office more attention is paid to facilitating collaboration. The noise level, distractions and constant interruptions are causing high amounts of stress in the workplace – in fact 61% say they go home to get work done. Planning a work space that provides areas for focus work and privacy is actually crucial to support innovation. People need time and space to recharge and digest new ideas generated through collaboration.


4.  Furniture should be flexible, multi-functional and easy to install and reconfigure.

You need to stay agile and your  furniture should support the ebb and flow of business allowing you to shift team spaces on the fly to accommodate key initiatives, growth or structural changes quickly with minimal disruption. Investing in furniture that can moves at your pace is a worthy investment.


5. Employees need easy access to power and data.

All this technology we use today needs power and data that is easily accessed without cluttering the worksurface. Just paying attention to this detail alone will ensure a little more happiness in your people.


6. Connecting to technology should be intuitive, seamless and quick.

Sharing digital information is often difficult and time consuming – an average of 5-10 minutes is lost trying to connect to technology, often disrupting a meeting’s flow. Carefully choosing technology in collaborative spaces ensures that employees will gladly use the space regularly.


7. Collaboration spaces should allow all participants equal opportunity to participate and share.

Democratize your meeting areas. Gone are the days of leader-led presentations where information is controlled and shared by one person. Plug and play technology that encourages active participation is key to active collaboration.


8. Integrating all the components in a space ensures a holistic solution.

Flooring, walls, technology, furniture, audiovisual, and lighting are just a few of the myriad of components that make up strategic workspaces. Imagine if they were all designed to seamlessly co-ordinate? Looking at a space through a broader lens can save time, money and aggravation in the long run!

So, there you have it…how to design strategic workplaces in 8 fundamental steps! The last thing to mention of course is that it always helps to have a partner…someone who can guide you through this process and make sure that in the end you get a space that your employees, customers, and even your CFO loves!