What your office says about you

Ever wondered if first impressions matter when it comes to office design and business potential?

Hassan Shaikh

Well they do, says Hassan Shaikh, founder of Revolve, a specialist corporate and retail interior design strategy agency. “There is a direct correlation between how a potential new client perceives your offices and whether they want to do business with you,” he says.

This is something SMEs and entrepreneurs, especially, need to realise when considering their office design. “Potential clients must want to spend money with you. If a run-down, out-dated office is the first impression potential clients have of your business what is it saying about your business? That it’s run-down and outdated. You have to spend money to make money and the design of your office space is worth the investment,” believes Shaikh.

But for many start-ups, the idea of investing in office design may seem ridiculous and just simply unaffordable. “I’ve seen it first hand, especially in the agency world, where business has increased dramatically after an office fit-out. Not only does a fresh and exciting office look attract new clients but it also motivates staff and productivity increases as does innovation and morale.”

Julian Moonusamy, Head of Finance and Corporate Responsibility for Umsinsi Health Care, is someone who took the plunge when he decided to invest in a uniquely designed Customer Experience Centre. Designed to showcase ConvaTec Wound and Stoma Care Technologies for both private and public sector health care professionals, purchasers and supply chain specialists, the new ConvaTec Customer Experience Centre created an environment where customers and patients could experience its products on a very personal basis. “We asked Revolve to model our centre on a UK concept which is definitely a first of its kind in South Africa in the health care sector. The response has been very positive from customers and its given us a fantastic platform to blend the concepts of academic learning, alongside best practice use of the ConvaTec products.”

So how to get from A to B when every cent matters? Shaikh believes interesting funding models are key. “Cost is always, even with large corporates, the deciding factor that determines how effectively design can serve and create value for businesses. In spite of the challenges, there are still many options available to SMEs to overcome financial constraints when it comes to workplace interior design.”

He recommends finding a financing option, designed specifically for SMEs, which allows the business to spread the load of having to outlay the capital investment by breaking the repayments down into a client-specific repayment period. “An option like this means clients do not have to dispose of their working capital,” says Shaikh.

“Through the financier, we are in partnership with, SME businesses that are credit worthy and are calculated and conservatively risk clients are considered for possible financial assistance. The financier is more open to risk than most other banks, is purely focused on the SME market and sees value in design assets.”

Revolve produces a detailed cost analysis including costing for all removable assets. The financier uses this project spec to then establish a recoverable amount through the assets’ value. “Because the financier is focused on the SME market there is an option to finance portions of the project or even just select items involved in the design. Considering the loan amounts are generally smaller than those required for major corporate office fit outs the approval process is faster,” explains Shaikh. He adds that Revolve works towards including as many removable and reusable assets in the design plan as possible to assist with the financing thereof and to add value to the clients spend. “We prefer to use demountable partitioning rather than dry-walling, for example, because not only does demountable partitioning offer greater flexibility it can also be included in the removable asset item list. Businesses can take it with them should they move premises.”

“As an entrepreneurial business, we understand the need for creative financing options and our focus is on being a partner to other small to medium businesses through the entire interior design fit-out process. Creating an appealing and productive office space projects the image of a growing and profitable business,” concludes Shaikh.

The art of design science.

Revolve is a design strategy agency, headed by Hassan Shaikh, that creates inspired spaces for corporate and retail environments using a unique blend of creativity and design science. Solution-based designs are carved from the team’s experience in the industry and their desire to improve functionality. Whilst understanding the need to maximise productivity, designs never lose focus on the people that engage within a space and their importance to overall business growth. Designs are therefore built on a people-centric approach, considering all aspects of a client’s business environment and goals.

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