Lizzi Hines is the managing director of commercial design and fitout company Spaceworks, which has 14 staff.
What factors make a good small business space?
Having good natural daylight and airflow are important, as is personal space, so it's good to provide lockers or a place for people to put their bags and a place for them to eat their lunch. It's a lot simpler and more economical than business owners often think to satisfy the needs of staff.
What difference can a good workspace make to a business' bottom line?
Having a good space means people are excited to come to work. It's amazing what that does for loyalty, which has a direct impact on staff retention. If you have people who are excited to come to work, they're also more productive. When business owners show care for their workspace and invest in it, that sends a signal that it's a successful business, which is attractive to potential customers and staff.
What trends have you seen in small business spaces?
Plants are a big trend because they add a sense of life and greenery. We have a lot of plants in our space but they're not real. Fake plants are realistic and can be economical. Storage is also a big trend.
We often find people think they need a new space because they've run out of room, but sometimes they just need to work their current space more efficiently. We've been involved in a number of preparations for office shifts when we've said, "You wouldn't need that extra 100sq m if you did things this way and got more efficiency out of your space." One client ended up saving around $200,000 by not taking on the six-year lease of a space that was 150sq m bigger than their existing space, which is quite significant. Another trend is towards a lot of art and graphics. That can be a cost-effective, dynamic way of changing a space.
What were your key considerations when moving into your own new space?
Definitely natural light and fresh air. I work with 14 other women in our office space and one of the big issues is getting the temperature right. We needed to consider people's needs - whether they were more sensitive to heat or cold - and position them around the office where appropriate. For those who feel cooler we had some lap blankets made that hang over the back of their chair. When we were designing our space of course we wanted it to look good, but it was the least important consideration. The primary consideration was that the space worked well.
Often that comes down to little things, like an office full of women want a full-length mirror in the bathroom. When you're undertaking a fit-out you need to ask the staff what they want. You can phrase it in a way that makes it clear not all of their suggestions are guaranteed to be in the end result, but that their suggestions will be considered, and hopefully you'll manage to tick a lot of the boxes because usually the requests are small. It means you won't do things that are unnecessary, or things that miss the mark.