Fitting out a new office will be one of the biggest expenses your company has to pay for, so it’s important to get it right the first time. From the look and feel of the office to its available facilities, you should take into account what will increase staff productivity and improve your company’s brand image.
Planning and designing are a crucial part of any office fit-out project. You need to plan exactly what, where and how to place things to maximise your office space, as well as create a design that complements a variety of different corporate aspects.
Planning is a fundamental part of any office fit-out project. A well-planned office space makes for a stress-free environment that both your staff and clients will appreciate. To help make your new office fit-out enjoyable and successful, here are 14 things to consider before you take the plunge.
ASK YOURSELF THE BIG QUESTIONS
A new office fit-out, whether it be a refurbishment of an existing location or relocation to a new office, will benefit your business in many ways. From better staff performance to increased workflow, better lighting, and easier movement throughout the office space. Then there’s the more obvious benefits like presenting a more modern space to clients and customers.
Before beginning your new fit-out, you should know what you want. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do you need a new office?
- What kind of fit-out do you want?
- Where will your new office be?
The answers to these questions will help determine your budget, the length of time it takes to complete the fit-out, and provide guidance for functional and aesthetic choices.
Planning for the future
While your workplace needs to reflect the current climate of your business, it should also be able to adapt to future changes. Along with the ‘big picture’ questions above, write down the answers to these ‘future direction’ business plans:
- How is your business / industry going to change and grow over the next few years?
- Can your current space accommodate company expansion?
- How will technology trends impact the size and shape of your office?
- Is your space flexible enough to adapt to rapid change?
If your existing facilities are outdated and unsuitable, then you should start looking for a new space to house your office. On the other hand, if you have the space but are looking to upgrade your workplace environment to improve company image and enhance productivity, a refurbishment might be the answer.
KNOW YOUR BUDGET AND GET A COMPREHENSIVE QUOTE
Hunting for quotes on office fit-outs is better when you already have a budget. While you might have to do some initial fact finding to determine the rough price range for a fit-out that reflects your ambitions, generally knowing how much you can spend will help avoid wasted time dealing with contractors that are outside your budget or unable to deliver on expectations.
Items to consider in your budget include:
- Costs associated with the move.
- How much and how long you might have to store equipment and furnishings.
- The overall design of the fit-out.
- The costs of new furniture.
- IT and telecommunications infrastructure.
Quotes and responsibilities
Quotes are an information gathering exercise, both for your company and the contractors involved in your fit-out. A quote isn’t a promise to engage, so utilise them to make informed decisions. Use pro and con lists to compare different companies and consider the total picture. If you’re a good project manager, this should become second nature. If it’s outside your scope, you might want to consider engaging someone to manage your project, perhaps from within your own organisation.
If you engage a single interior design company to handle the fit-out, their quote should include:
- Design brief.
- Technical plans.
- Delivery of materials.
- Building assessment.
- Project management and construction.
Make sure the initial quote includes all possible costs so you can effectively budget for the fit-out and not have to worry about unexpected costs down the line.
If you’re managing the project in-house, you may have to engage independent contractors for each step of the process. You’ll also be responsible for supplying technical plans and building assessments to on-site contractors and take control of the process, insurance and scheduling from start to finish.
BE IN SYNC WITH YOUR BRAND IDENTITY
The design of your office should reflect the vision, mottos, ideas, values, culture and desired appearance of your company. It should also be an extension of your advertising and marketing collateral (and vice versa). This means that clients get the same impression walking into your office as they would when viewing your company’s website or marketing collateral.
It’s best to involve your marketing department in this process, they probably know your brand better than anyone. Kick the collaboration process off early and ensure you create an office that reflects your company’s values.
RESTRUCTURING SPACE AND STAFF NEEDS
With technology advancing to the point where many people can do much of their job from anywhere there’s an internet connection, a new office fit-out could be the perfect opportunity to restructure your office layout, downsize, or move from cubicles to more collaborative work spaces.
With some staff working remotely full or part time, you can save money on total floorspace, but often it’s better to rework that space into conference rooms, client areas, breakout areas or even a recreational area.
How much space do you actually need for staff? For office workers, the you should allow 6m2 per person to comply with building regulations, but there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution. The most prudent advice is to map your floor plans to your most busy days. With all staff on deck and functioning fluidly, have you accounted for aisle space, meeting rooms and breakout areas? Err on the side of caution, especially if you plan to expand in the near future.
Assess space utilisation
To get the balance right in your new office, you need to understand exactly how staff are using your current office space. Breakdown and examine the following:
- How much time is spent at desks and in meeting rooms?
- How frequently are kitchens and break areas being used?
- Do some teams have too much or too little space?
- Are there areas that are over or under used?
- Is there sufficient storage space?
- Is current storage space too much, or too little?
- Can you accommodate for visitors in your reception area?
- Do you have agile work areas?
It could be very worthwhile to survey your staff so that your fit-out is based on practical feedback. Ask your staff what they like or dislike about the current space, how they believe it could be improved (in terms of efficiency and productivity), as well as general additions to the office they would like to see.
FOLLOW OFFICE DESIGN TRENDS
Before commissioning your interior designer you’ll want to research the latest office design trends so you have a good idea of what you want and how it will benefit workplace productivity. The open plan office is still a popular layout, but new designs focusing on accommodating workgroups, collaborative teams, and remote working are trending in more forward-thinking workplaces.
Consider some of the following trends.
- Moving desks: Highly profitable software company, Valve, gives all it’s employees desks on wheels so they can set up and work where they need to, with who they need to.
- Standing desks: Convertible standing desks have been shown to offer dramatic boosts to productivity and health.
- Authentic Design is a trend that attempts to align interior design choices, from materials to design branding, to tell ‘the story’ of the business. This is a bespoke process that involves strong collaboration between all stakeholders in the design process.
- Natural materials and use of daylight are trends that promote office wellbeing.
- Multipurpose spaces are replacing cubicles. Benches and shared spaces promote collaboration and inter-office engagement.
Other on-trend office designs include making the building’s business area, lobby and entrances warm, attractive and inviting. These are the first areas that prospective clients will see, so you want them to make a lasting impression.
AIM TO IMPRESS CLIENTS WITH YOUR NEW DESIGN
If you’re a client facing business, your office sells your business just as much as your staff do, and first impressions count. Before you commence your new office fit-out, remember that you have a blank canvas to work with, so make sure to use it to your advantage and consider everything in terms of design and resources to deliver a workplace that impresses clients. This could include:
- Comfortable and engaging reception areas.
- Public or personal cafe spaces.
- Atriums and public thoroughfares that encourage people to walk past your workplace (and feel good about it).
- Architectural and design flourishes like floating staircases, indoor gardens etc.
- Recreational and entertainment areas.
- Artwork, perhaps hanging collections or commissioned wall murals by local artists.
Think about the type of clients you typically attract or aspire to engage in your new office. Design the interior in a way that makes a lasting impression on visiting clients. There’s nothing quite so valuable to your brand equity as positive word of mouth.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT COLOURS
It’s not superstition; certain colours can improve the look and feel of an office. Consult with your interior designer and project manager to think of creative implementation with the following tones and hues:
- High saturation colours are more stimulating, while lower saturation creates a more soothing ambience.
- The colour blue will stimulate or soothe the mind, and is great for logical work like accountancy.
- Yellow stokes creativity, emotions, confidence and ego, and is better suited to daring marketing strategists, creative agencies or collaboration spaces where sparks fly.
- Green offers a sense of balance, but can also feel inert or stagnate if used incorrectly. Great for finalising contracts, signing documents or in breakout areas.
- Red shines in physical work, movement and the body. High saturation red markings are perfect for zoning areas when contractors are on-site, while low saturation reds will soothe and calm the body.
The right colour combinations provide multiple benefits and are ideal for achieving colour sensitivity without compromising on brand colours and design cues.
BUILD IN OPPORTUNITY TO EXPAND THE SPACE
There may come a time where you’ll want to hire more staff or buy more equipment or furniture, so make sure the office design lets you easily accommodate new staff members or new equipment, particularly if you want to avoid relocating. This includes:
- Exterior doorways, aisles and halls that can easily fit trolleys and equipment.
- Modular design for repurposing spaces.
- Consideration for mezzanine levels to expand workspace without floor space
It might not always be possible to just rent the floor above or open the office out, so planning for more collaborative spaces and scheduling remote working and agile environments can help you expand without relocating or overspending on floor space in the future.
USE NEW CLOUD TECHNOLOGIES
To put it simply, cloud technology is computing based on the internet. The increase in cloud-based technologies means that companies are able to get rid of outdated infrastructure, freeing offices of equipment and allowing more room for free space. Cloud computing also offers flexibility in that it enables some staff to work from home, which contributes to the overall agility of the workplace.
When designing your new office fit-out, consider the impact of moving IT infrastructure to cloud-based alternatives, and how that could affect the size or your server or communications room, as well as pipelines around and out of the office.
Cloud hosted infrastructure not only increases flexibility, but allows for better disaster recovery, document control and potential benefits for remote staff and mitigating cyberattacks.
Cloud technologies could be anything from hosting files off Google Drive, to using cloud based Event Management software like Eventbrite or Ungeboeck, to full MS Office solutions like Office 365. For complete hosting of web and databases, Amazon Web Hosting remains a popular choice.
Tip: Plug in for productivity and power
When considering electronics, you’ll also want to think about power points. Chances are your current office fit-out is making able use of unsightly and less than workplace compliant power boards to power the myriad of dual monitors, computers, charging stations and additional electronics. Make sure work areas cater to the electronic needs of today and the future.
Having your company on board with sustainability can provide a number of benefits, not only to the bottom line but also in terms of improving reputation both internally amongst staff and externally. There are a number of ways you can reduce your office’s carbon footprint:
The environmental benefits of going paperless are countless. Turning your office paperless helps to reduce energy usage in the paper industry, lessen fuel consumption in terms of paper distribution and courier services, as well as save thousands of trees! For example – 24 trees are cut to make one ton of non-recycled printing paper.
Along with this, paperless offices save money across infrastructure (printers) resources (paper and ink) and record keeping (filing cabinets).
Invest in solar technology
Meanwhile, your new office might offer opportunities for solar power, which can help power lights, heat water, and slash the electrical bill. Under optimal conditions, your company could even be selling energy back into the grid, a great way to not only reduce your carbon footprint but be rewarded for it as well.
Make use of existing sunlight
Going green also means designing your new office layout to take full advantage of sunlight by positioning workstations perpendicular to the east / west trajectory of the sun. This avoids glare while providing best access to sunlight, improving workplace morale and lessening the need for overhead and desk lighting. When you are choosing lighting, opt for LEDs over halogens, as they provide better efficiency over the long term.
Along with environmental sustainability, putting plants in the office can make your employees less stressed, more productive, increase performance and even aid memory retention.
IMPLEMENT EFFICIENT SYSTEM DESIGNS
Your new fit-out is about more than just great interior design and space saving modern features. Basic systems like lighting and temperature control can be modernised to be more efficient and ‘smart’, but they should also have manual failsafes in place in case of power loss or disaster recovery.
Consider your current and future office needs for the following and how they might be best designed to compliment your office fit-out.
- Windows and louvres: Can and should they be opened and closed manually or remotely?
- Air conditioners: Where are the best points for their installation? How are they controlled? What is the most efficient schedule?
- Lighting: What types of lighting will you use? From overhead luminaires to desk lamps and wall lights, office lighting throws up a lot of options and considerations.
- Electrical sockets: Do you have enough to meet the needs of your staff?
- Thermostats: Who has control, and from where?
- General HVACs: How is it ducted and installed? Who has control? What are some ways you can make it more efficient?
While you won’t have to be an expert on every aspect of your fit-out, you’ll want to consult closely with maintenance staff, designers and contractors to ensure you get the best features and implementation for your budget.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR BUSINESS RUNNING DURING THE FIT-OUT
When fitting out your office, you can leave key departments or work areas undisturbed at important times during business hours. Or you can choose to carry out your office fit-out after business hours. This is especially important when migrating your IT and telecoms systems to a new location in order to prevent disrupting communications. Your clients should still be able to contact you via phone or email during the design and construction phases of your new office fit-out. Here’s some things you can do to ensure your office fit-out goes as smoothly as possible:
- Redirect inbound calls to a mobile or office independant line during critical operations.
- Migrate business technology to the cloud so you team can remain connected.
- Overlap office migration to mitigate risk.
- Coordinate with team leaders and managers to work around large projects or important deadlines.
- Schedule workplace retreats, company picnics, training and team building to get folks out of the office but remain productive during the fit-out.
SAFEGUARD HEALTH AND SAFETY
From start to finish your new office fit-out should promote health and safety and remain compliant with OHS standards. This includes during the build and over the course of your tenancy. Remember:
- Only engage certified contractors.
- Ensure first aid kits and fire extinguishers are on site.
- Post proper signage to prevent unauthorised entry, notify people of works, offer detours etc.
- Know your OH&S standards.
- Consider running seminars for your staff about impacts and proper behaviours.
- Engage an OH&S inspector to certify the work area.
- Consult your insurance policy and update as necessary.
The site should be free of any potential health and safety hazards at all times. Work towards mitigating risk and prevent accidents, injuries or illnesses for which you could be liable.
COMPLY WITH THE LAW
You can never be too prepared when it comes to complying with rules and regulations in British Law. If you engage a design firm to handle your project, ensure they are have a reputation of safe and timely project execution.
You can find breakdowns of the relevant H&S standards at the following website: www.hse.gov.uk/
FITTING OUT YOUR NEW OFFICE WITH ACCOLADE
Preparing for an office move? Accolade will prompt you on all points listed in our checklist but being prepared doesn’t hurt and making decisions in advance means that the project won’t be held up.
We take the time to listen to your needs, provide a positive, stress free experience and can help with the planning and organisation of your office fit-out.
Contact us today to get a free quote or call us on 01785 228877 and one of our friendly professionals will speak with you shortly. With more than 20 years’ experience, you can rest assured that your fit-out will be handled with ease and speed.