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A Guide to Office Design & Furniture Consultants

Must-Have Partners for Commercial Office Space Design or Redesign Projects

If you are tasked with planning and overseeing an office design or redesign project, you may feel overwhelmed. Designing and furnishing an office is a complicated undertaking. Everything can and will go wrong if the proper precautions are not taken. Offices are vital assets for most businesses and it’s important to “get it right” in terms of the layout and furniture. After all, corporate office spaces are large expenses when you consider the overhead of real estate, the cost of furniture, the time that goes into designing and building out the space, and how much office space impacts your workforce’s productivity and satisfaction. Don’t fret; there is a solution at your fingertips in the form of a partnership. An office design and furniture consultant can help guide you through the process and avoid common pitfalls.

office design and furniture consultants

What is an office design and furniture consultant?

An office design and furniture consultant is an experienced specialist who helps you create an optimal work environment within your office space. These consultants may or may not charge for consulting or project management, as they often make money through office-furniture sales and, sometimes, through office design services. The right consultant will have decades of experience to draw from in helping you navigate the complex process and avoid common challenges. Office design and furniture consultants can have a wealth of expertise, including:

Design Expertise
Space Planning: The consultant will assess your workforce size, work styles, and office needs to design a functional layout that maximizes space utilization. Office space planning and design steps include creating floor plans, mapping out private offices and workstations, and designing zones such as collaborative areas and break rooms.

Interior Design: A design consultant will consider lighting, color schemes, decor, furniture, and other factors, as well as how it all comes together to create an aesthetically pleasing and inspiring workspace that reflects your company culture.

Office Design & Furniture Consultants

Furniture Know-How
Furniture Selection: The consultant will help you choose chairs, desks, tables, and workstations that prioritize employee health, well-being, satisfaction, and productivity. He or she will also factor in aesthetics and budget constraints.

Space Optimization: The consultant will optimize office space layouts, suggest furniture configurations, and provide 3D-visualizations that can be invaluable during the planning and implementation phases of a project.

Project Management
Process: Companies often seek out office furniture dealers who can handle an entire project from start to finish. The office furniture dealer would offer services that include project management, coordination with other vendors, and furniture installation, and pledge to complete the project within budget and on schedule.

Customer Service: You will want a responsive, attentive partner committed to addressing your needs promptly. The commitment should include timely communication, assistance with product inquiries, efficient delivery and installation, and after-sales support.

Staying on Track: Maintaining a schedule and keeping within your budget are both critical to a successful project. Your furniture dealer ensures that everything is accounted for in these areas.

office design & furniture consultants

Office Design & Furniture Consulting Process

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Consultation Call

To get started, schedule a conference call with the consultant to discuss and determine your office project needs. The primary focus of the call is to outline your design goals and objectives and establish a budget.

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Draft a Proposal

With your project needs in mind, the consultant will write up a proposal for working together that will outline the consultant’s fee structure and present a big-picture understanding of your project roadmap.

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Know the Rules and Laws

There are many rules, laws, and regulations to consider, all based on the building, city, and state in which you are located. Office design and furniture professionals are experienced in these areas. They know what to look for and what questions to ask in order to ensure that your project is in compliance and avoid any future issues.

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Project-Management Plan

Next, it is time for a detailed look at your timeline and budget. The consultant will assess the timeline and budget against your office design and furniture goals, employee needs, and other important considerations. This step produces guidelines and timelines that will be used to monitor progress throughout the project and ensure that each step is on schedule and within budget.

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Site Measurements and Preferences

Whether or not a CAD drawing has been supplied, the consultant will come to your office and field-measure your space. Architectural plans are often inaccurate; at the very least, they must be verified. This is a necessary in preparing the floor plan and furniture layout. More information about your ideas, needs, and limitations for the furniture and the space can be ascertained at this stage as well.

Create a Floor Plan

Based on design and furniture needs, a floor plan is drafted next. Both 2-D (floor plan) and 3-D visuals should be provided to help you visualize the newly designed space. Any necessary changes will generate revised 2D and 3D visuals.

Furniture Selection

Next is the furniture-selection process. Your consultant will ensure that employee needs, the budget, and the floor plan are all considered in choosing the right furniture.

Final Quote

After all decisions are made about furnishings and finishes, you can expect the consultant to provide a final quote for the furniture and installation. When the quote has been accepted, your order is placed and a tentative installation date is set, accommodating your schedule as much as possible.

Installation

Almost at the finish line! If your consultant has done his or her job well, you are on budget and on schedule and have avoided major challenges. As part of the project-management process, the consultant will ensure that the installation follows all building and government codes and passes any inspections.

Conduct a Final Walk-Through

Once the project is complete, your consultant will conduct a final walk-through to confirm that all of the furniture has been installed and that everyone is happy. Take some pictures of a job well done!

Common Office Design Challenges Your Consultant Will Help You Avoid

The do-it-yourself approach for an office design, furnishing, and installation project is not recommended unless it is a very small project with a really tight budget. There are simply too many things that could go wrong. It is not worth dealing with headaches or ending up with subpar office space. By working with an office design and furniture consultant, you will minimize the risks and ensure a successful outcome. The consultant will make you aware of potential issues and help you take steps to address issues proactively during project planning and through project management.

Here are some common challenges a consultant will help you avoid:

Incorrect measurements from architectural drawings or building plans

If you have received floor plans or architectural drawings from your building management, realtor, and/or the architect, you cannot assume that they are accurate. Any such assumption is a common mistake that can impact your schedule and budget. Architectural plans often include the notation “Architect is not responsible for the accuracy of these plans.” Field measurements must be taken to ensure that your floor plan is based on accurate specifications.

Design and layout doesn’t deliver on company needs

Someone without office design experience may think that laying out a floor plan is simple but will likely miss some important details. An experienced designer understands where extra space is needed and where furniture can be placed more tightly. Be mindful of how much space an employee needs for a chair to be pulled out from a workstation in order to stand up and sit down comfortably. Don’t make primary walkways too tight. Consider how sound and light can impact different zones within the office.

If it is not done correctly, the final design may not meet the needs or preferences of employees, which can lead to dissatisfaction, reduced productivity, and/or decreased morale. Inadequate space-planning may result in a crowded or uncomfortable work environment, which can negatively impact the overall functionality of the office.

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Peak office Design Café
Not complying with state, town, and building rules, regulations, and laws
One worst-case scenario might be an obscure building rule that halts your project. Your furniture is being delivered and the install team is on site, but then the building manager explains that furniture moves must be after hours. You now need to pay everyone for their time and reschedule, which costs you time and money. Scenarios like this one must be avoided at all costs.

Consider: Does the design follow the fire code in terms of how much space there must be for walkways? Does the city require union labor for delivery and installation? Rely on an experienced consultant who will help you navigate your project in terms of all rules, regulations, and laws for your area.

 Missed deadlines
Office furniture lead times and install team scheduling are two element of the project that are often miscalculated; both can delay your project. Lead times and schedules take longer than they used to and longer than you would expect. Delays from poor project planning, supply-chain disruptions, or unexpected challenges during the installation process are easily avoidable working with a knowledgeable partner.

Going over budget
One of the most common issues is exceeding the allocated budget. An over-budget situation can occur due to unforeseen expenses, design changes, or poor project management. Lean on a contract furniture consultant and follow a detailed process as described above to keep your project under-budget.

Peak office Design
Peak office Design

Issues with delivery and installation
Some buildings may not allow deliveries during certain hours. Is there a proper delivery port, such as a loading dock? Is there access to elevators?

Regular hours are during the workday, typically between 7:00 am and 3:00 pm. Overtime hours are typically before 7:00 am, after 3:00 pm, or on a weekend (usually Saturdays). The overtime labor rate is generally time-and-a-half (1.5 X regular time labor rates).

If the office space is not on the first floor, does the building have an elevator that the installers can use? What size is the elevator? Is the elevator opening large enough for the furniture to fit inside?

If the building does not have an elevator and there are stairs to the office space, the job is considered a “stair carry-up.” The job now requires more labor and will take more time; therefore, the labor cost will be higher.

Insurance and union
A COI (certificate of insurance) is proof that the furniture dealership and/or the delivery/installation company has the proper insurance coverage to work in the building. If a COI is needed, building management will have a sample that includes the language, coverage, and certificate-holder requirements.

Peak office Design
Peak office Design