The simple test fit plan...
Updated: Aug 16, 2020
As designers there are two questions that frustrate us the most:
Could you pull together a quick test fit plan?
How much do you charge for test fits?
It’s not because we dislike space planning and drawing test fits, it’s actually an element of our job that we enjoy the most, it’s more about what these questions represent. Like anything, a test fit plan is only going to be as good as the information you receive and typically, these questions are accompanied with half a dozen bullet points depicting how many workstations and meeting rooms are required. There is often no information about how the business operates, how teams interact or what facilities are required to maximise employee performance, communication and output. End user clients, client representatives and project managers often sight the following as reasons for the lack of detail:
Lack of time
The project is confidential to the wider business
Speed - we just want a quick plan NOW!
Not wanting to brief multiple design firms
Another reason we would add to the above list is, they are simply unaware of the benefits of communicating a more detailed brief directly to the designer from the start.
What are the benefits of a detailed briefing session?
Nothing beats direct communication between the end user client and the designer and the more time the client can give to a briefing session the better it will be for the project. However, if time is limited, a reasonably detailed brief can be conducted within *30-45 minutes. This will provide sufficient information to produce a test fit plan that represents the business more honestly than if it were created from a few bullet points. (*a deeper business workplace strategy review will require more time and input from various stakeholders).
Even, if only one representative from the business can afford the time to provide a brief due to confidentiality this is still far better than receiving information second hand. Direct communication can often uncover the smallest but most relevant details which could affect the entire design and layout, something that words on a page just can not convey. Also, this direct engagement gives the designer more ownership of the project and they are likely to give it more of their time and produce a better design.
Producing a test fit plan with a more detailed brief does not have to take any longer than that of a minimal brief, in fact in the long run it is likely it will be quicker as there should be less updates and revisions required because the designer knows more about your business and has factored this into the plan early on. With a minimal initial brief information is often drip fed to the designer which means multiple drawing revisions are required to produce a plan that really works for the business.
Designing your new office space is a journey, so use this opportunity to get to know who will be joining you for the next few months. The briefing session is a great platform to get to know the designer early on and to see if their personality and methods align with your expectations. In our view a good designer will listen to your requirements and understand how the business operates, but they should also open your eyes to potential opportunities to improve from your current environment and challenge ‘the norm’. Forming a great relationship with your designer will produce a far better outcome and more enjoyable experience.
We're sure this resonates not only with designers but with many people in similar service roles, so when someone asks you ‘can you just do this quickly for me’, what they are really saying is - we want to ‘use’ you, but we don’t necessarily want to work with you, it then becomes your job to educate them why they should take the time to work with you.
A face-to-face briefing can be conducted over a coffee
Make the time now and reap the rewards sooner
Be detailed + involve the right people ASAP
Build relationships early so you can select the right partner