The decision to refurbish an office can be motivated by a variety of factors, but these will almost inevitably be linked to a desire for change.

It may be that an office has begun to look old and outdated, indeed, it may be looking distinctly shabby. This could well be having both a negative effect on the moral and productivity of staff working in the area and projecting a poor image of the company.

All the reasons for undertaking an office refurbishment, especially the benefits that can be accrued from it, need to be identified at the outset, in order that they are at the forefront of the minds of those taking the project forward. Involving all staff from the outset of the project can help to get them to buy into the process and look forward to enjoying the benefit of the investment in a better working environment.

To some extent, there will be disruption to those people working in the area and this fact combined with the not insignificant financial investment means that there should be as many tangible improvements resulting from the project as possible. There should be no excuse for comments such as, “What a pity we didn’t think of that before they put down the new carpet.”

We outline a few key steps to ensure your office refurbishment goes to plan.

Forming a Project Team

Once the goals have been identified, a project team needs to be assembled, the make-up of which is highly likely to influence how smoothly and effectively the refurbishment is delivered. First and foremost, the team needs to be cross-departmental and incorporate at least one senior manager capable of taking decisions.

Sufficient meeting time needs to be given over to the project team in order that the aims of the project can be refined and adjusted in-line with the advice and experience being brought by the different members. It’s important to explore ways of solving existing problems in the current office. It may be that there is a lack of regular communication between different teams, a lack of an available meeting space, staff not happy working away from their desk, or nowhere for staff to take a private or work-related call. All of these issues are important to identify and need to be included in the brief for discussions with the office refurbishment companies.

Identifying a Partner

It is important to contact office refurbishers at an early stage to identify a partner for the project and in order to establish a realistic budget and to get quality advice. Time should be taken to look through a shortlist of company’s case studies, identifying, in each case, who they have worked with and viewing, where possible, their recent work before making contact with those that appear able to deliver the project.

The mechanical and electrical aspects of an office refurbishment are equally (if not more important) than the interior design and visual look. You can replace sofas and desks at a later stage but re-wiring the office once its finished will be much more of an inconvenience.

Generating a Budget

Once the office refurbishment partner has been selected, the budget can be drawn up to deliver the project and detailed planning on the project can commence, ensuring that the new office is delivered on time and on budget.

Fit-out costs will vary depending on factors such as the type and age of the building and the size of the area being refurbished. Other factors affecting cost will include the quality of finish, furniture, fittings and the level of upgrade in areas such as IT, heating, ventilation and lighting.

It is possible that the landlord will contribute towards the cost or offer to charge a lower rent, since the office refurbishment will provide them with a greatly improved and more valuable asset. Looking at leasing options and potential tax breaks can also be enormously beneficial and lead to significant savings in the long term.

It is a good idea to consult with a tax expert since there are potential savings to be made by maximising capital allowances and by activating tax allowances in relation to the use of sustainable materials in the refurbishment.

The Detailed Planning Process

Once the budget is agreed and all of the required paperwork is in order, a detailed plan with timings and the different stages can be discussed and drawn up. This is critical for any refurbishment project and should ensure, amongst other factors, that any disruptive, noisy works or bulky deliveries are scheduled outside of working hours.

If the plan is for the space to remain as a working environment during the project, staff moves will need to be considered while their spaces are being refurbished and the allocation of swing space and storage for equipment and furniture will be essential. It is important to schedule frequent site visits in order to be able to assess progress and to keep lines of communication open through regular team meetings.

Other issues that will need to be planned for include providing access to parking and facilities for contractors, including for out of hours works and deliveries. If the refurbishment is taking place in a multi occupant building, other tenants will need to know what is planned.

Innovating in the Office Design

Furniture selection is key, as it should reflect your business brand and will be one of the most visible elements of the new workplace. Time spent appraising and selecting seating, desks, collaborative furniture and meeting room tables can really help to create a workplace that truly reflects and works for an organisation.

It is important to select furniture that is appropriate for the different areas of the office.

Comfortable couches can be used to promote informal collaboration, while tall tables can be used to promote quick standing meetings. Private booths can be created for calls and a place where staff can better concentrate. Ergonomically friendly seating for desk-based working is likely to increase productivity and enhance safety and comfort. Generally, ergonomically friendly furniture has enormous benefits and is well worth investigating and investing in.

The design of the new space could involve creating pockets of agile workspaces between teams to encourage workflow, or the introduction of touchdown and meeting booths, rather than traditional enclosed offices, creating an airy open plan environment and thus encouraging collaboration further. Staff productivity can be improved by allowing employees to access telephone pods rather than leaving the office for privacy.

Suspended acoustic baffles and partitioning can reduce the noise in heavy work areas and improve staff wellbeing and efficiency. Plants and greenery can be effective in lightening the feel of the office, giving it a biophilic feel and improving both productivity wellness among staff.

Learn More with Therma-Mech

Mechanical and Electrical services can often be the largest cost of a commercial fit out or refurbishment project, so making sure you choose a great M&E partner is key to ensuring you maximise your budget and keep costs to a minimum.

We will ensure your new office has the infrastructure to support you and your team, whatever industry you are in. Discover our refurbishment services here.

Get in touch today to learn about our approach and how we can help.