Tips on designing a top-tier tech office

Technology companies often have very clear ideas on what they do – and don’t like – in their office space. But they don’t always ask all the right questions. Karl Carty, senior designer at office design, fit out and refurbishment specialist Morgan Lovell, has the answers to office design questions that businesses need to ask.

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Karl Carty

Is office design helping tech companies attract and retain talent?

Definitely. In our experience, tech companies tend to be very forward-thinking and receptive to new ways of working. We see a recurring interest in wanting to attract and retain the best talent, particularly in the Thames Valley, as there is a concern about the temptations of London.

When approached by clients with these apprehensions our focus is typically around introducing an ‘activity-based working’ model that caters to all employees, not just millennials. This type of model is commonly misunderstood by companies who think it might not appeal to everyone.

What’s a good example of bespoke office design?

While most tech companies have similar goals, they typically have fascinating and unique aspects to their businesses based around the promotion of their products and services. We really enjoy helping to develop and integrate the design of these bespoke working styles.

For anti-virus software provider Symantec, the main drive was around the importance of offering high-tech security to their clients. Morgan Lovell worked with Symantec’s team in California on the design, which used the US tech giant’s colour palette and geometric patterns inspired by its logo.

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The centrepiece of Symantec’s office at the Reading International Business Park is a security operations centre (SOC), a facility that houses the information security team responsible for monitoring and analysing an organisation’s security on an ongoing basis. Symantec also uses the SOC room for promotional purposes. They bring their clients to the space and even let them have visual access at certain times of the day via the many cameras that they have in the area.

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To enter the SOC room, you must go via a secure space which notifies the staff inside the room that there is visitor approaching by fading the suspended task lighting down and turning on blue feature lights in the floor and ceiling. The staff then turn their screens off and the guest is allowed in via the metal secure door. The room is purposefully of a higher specification finish than the rest of the office to give the feel of success and experience and is filled with screens to show the level of monitoring going on.

Within the area, there is a presentation room where clients can find out more about Symantec’s offerings. The room is housed within a semi-circular ‘privy’ glass structure which allows the presenter to switch from an openly transparent to a fully frosted private room.

Symantec also needed specific acoustic measures in the area, which we achieved by applying acoustic treatment to the exposed soffit and several walls within the space. Finally, there are security graphics and slogans that fill the room to help stamp their message home.

What three things do your tech clients ask for in an office?

  • An office which will help retain and attract talent.
  • To make the most out of their floor footprint, based on their staffing numbers and ways of working.
  • Ensure the office design will help staff to be more creative and productive.

What three things are not often being asked for, but should be?

  • How can we analyse our current working styles and optimise our future workspace?
  • Do we need as many cellular environments as we think we do?
  • Do we need a 1:1 desk ratio or can this be reduced to save space and money?