The Costs and Benefits of Office Design

If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ve no doubt seen offices designed on the cheap as well as ones that cost a pretty penny. Because of this wide range in price, I find myself wondering: At what point does the cost of a project outweigh the benefit of the proposed results?

Broad Reasons for Great Office Design

Without getting into the specifics of each, there are fairly clear reasons that a well-designed workplace can be an important asset for any company.

  • Improve efficiency of employees
  • Improve workplace atmosphere
  • Improve employee wellbeing
  • Improved means of enticing prospective talent
  • Improved means of impressing potential customers

The Costs of Great Office Design

Let’s take a peek at some reasons you might find a well-designed office to be expensive:

  • Construction/Designer Costs
  • Furniture
  • Larger Space
  • Time Intensive

Analyzing the Costs and Benefits Together

Without putting dollar signs on each of your employees, it is important to think through your reasons for improving your space and whether or not those are worthwhile investments. That’s not to say that you either make the improvements or don’t make them, but rather a call to make intelligent decisions about what is most important for your organization.

  • Google obviously feels comfortable designing posh, fun, and photogenic workspaces in an effort to entice employees, but is it really necessary for the average employer to spend incredible sums of money on an office as a means of recruiting? Probably not. Instead, focus on building a great company that your employees love working for.
  • That said, many companies do see the importance of using their space as an advertisement for their company, their creativity, and their product. But please know that just spending money on an office to make it seem like your are an amazingly creative company is not enough to actually make you an amazingly creative company.
  • If you’re really keen on spending $2000 on each employee’s workstation, but can achieve the same efficiency or wellbeing gains for $1500, why not go for the less expensive option?
  • Construction costs are the bulk of any major office redesign, while furniture is the least expensive. Facebook’s Palo Alto office was completed with a low cost/sqft because they were able to chose a space without needing major construction work.
  • Sometimes, beyond money, redesigning an office can be a real pain and used up more time than you would actually save by having a redesign.

All of this said, envying over photos of offices is one thing, but when it comes to actually designing an office, please make sure that the goal of your design isn’t to win the prettiest office award, but rather to win the best functioning space to work in.