A new office is an opportunity to create a space that helps your staff work and feel at their best. It’s a chance to showcase your brand and to help attract premier talent. But to do this you’ll need some guidance from the people who know your people and how to get the most out of them. Who are these people? They’re your human resources team.

The role of HR in a business

Once seen as ‘The peoples’ people’, HR has moved away from being the recruitment machine that finds new talent. Organisations now recognise their main source of competitive advantage is the people that work for them. The role of a modern HR team is developing strategies to help attract and retain the best talent, while supporting those people to perform at their best.

This is pivotal to the success of any modern business. While not just keeping recruitment fees and employee churn down, HR is responsible for finding candidates who reflect the culture of your organisation, ensuring that any new hires are the right cultural fit for the organisation. After all, any reputation is only as good as its last impression.

How is this relevant to office design?

Office design has equally evolved in recent years. There’s a growing understanding that the spaces we use influence the way that we feel and ultimately the way we perform. It’s easy to see how being surrounded by four grey walls all day, with an absence of natural light, isn’t going to stimulate your most innovative ideas.

At the same time, there’s a level of balance between casual working, breakout spaces and pure productivity that needs to be struck. An office design project starts with a careful analysis of how people work, the company culture and what people need. So it makes sense for the people experts to be involved - enter your HR team! Sometimes, an office design project is a stimulus for a cultural change too, so it’s pivotal HR is onboard for these projects.

How do we design offices that focus on people?

Once you understand the needs of your staff, you can start translating this into a design solution. New office designs often look to bring people together and encourage collaboration. This can be supported by designing open-plan spaces with touch-down points and flexible areas to let staff work where and when they need to.

HR can provide insight on who needs to be working closely together and what tools and solutions people may need – from whiteboards for brainstorming, to display screens for presentations or video conferencing suites.

Creating spaces to reflect your culture

While collaboration is important, so is the need for privacy. We all have times when we need to take a private phone call or put our heads down and focus. Providing workspaces that support people to do this is vital. HR appreciate all individuals and departments have different needs, so any new office design needs to embrace these different ways of working. Activity-based working environments are a great way to provide space for different ways of working in your office design; including fun breakout spaces, relaxing contemplation areas and of course communal working areas.

Ultimately, the office design should be influenced by your company culture – or at least the culture you’re looking to promote. There’s no point in having a slide in your office if your staff just aren’t the kind of people who would use it. Likewise, you wouldn’t have a bar for after work drinks if most of your staff drive to work each day! Your office design needs to be people-first and focus on what those people want, not necessarily just what your business can give them.