A well-written design brief is one of the most useful documents you can have for your project.

This will be a key document that can be referred back to throughout the project, especially if decisions need to be clarified or substantiated at a later stage. This should contain your vision for the new office, along with any business or facilities needs that should be considered. This could also set out new ways of working that you'd like to achieve; such as introducing hot-desking or increasing breakout spaces. The document should also include brand values, work ethos and sign-off from senior management.

How to create a solid design brief:

Carry out a workplace appraisal

Look at how your business works now and think about how the company might grow in the future. Will certain departments need more space in the coming years? Or less?

  • Carry out management interviews to find out what each department needs
  • Calculate growth projections to ensure you accommodate future growth
  • Look at work patterns to ensure the new office accommodates your company's way of working

Get a technology brief

Work with the IT team and find out what technology the new office needs to fully support the way your colleagues work. Think about computers, printers, visitor services, audio visual equipment, comms rooms, wireless networks and audio or video conferencing facilities.

It's easier to get your technology needs in place right from the beginning. Rather than trying to accommodate extra computers once the office design has been completed.

Perform a storage audit

Find out how much storage you really need. Not enough storage space can frustrate your colleagues and cause clutter. And too much storage could be costly when you consider how much your office costs per square foot.

Survey your new building

Take a comprehensive look at your new building. If you feel something isn't working the way it should, now's the time to negotiate with the landlord.

As part of your survey:

  • Check air-conditioning, ventilation, network cabling and lifts
  • Ensure there's a Fire Exit plan in place
  • Check works access: If your designer can't get proper access for the office interior construction, the space will cost more to fit out
  • Compare fit out cost between buildings: No two buildings are the same and costs can vary considerably
  • Find out which way the building faces so you can assess how the space heats up during the day
  • Check raised access flooring to make sure you can space plan how you want
  • Get accurate floor plans to ensure you're getting the square footage you're paying for
  • Look at usable space and fit factor: Odd shaped buildings give you less usable space. So calculate how many people you can actually fit into the building
  • Get your office designers to do a theoretical test fit to see if your business can comfortably fit into the space

Designer tip:

Download Morgan Lovell's Choosing the Right Office Space Checklist for a comprehensive look at all the things you need to consider when evaluating office space for rent or purchase.

Carry out a 'green' office feasibility study

If your business has a CSR policy, an office design project is a great opportunity for you to strengthen your 'green' credentials by gaining a BREEAM, LEED or Ska rating.

A good sustainability audit should include:

  • Energy audit
  • Accreditation assessment: What's better for your building? BREEAM, LEED or Ska?
  • Natural light and thermal audit
  • Sub-metering proposals
  • Return on investment calculations