Sooner or later, every organisation will have a weighty choice to make: the decision whether they should refurbish the office they have or move away and set up somewhere else. It can be easy to be seduced by the temptation of a new office, but, the decision is a little more complicated!

Provided that a good business case is made, refurbishing your office intelligently can be a very effective option. There are, essentially, six layers that make up an office. These vary in the timescales involved. At the far end of that spectrum is the site, which may be in existence for hundreds of years. At the near end are people, who function in terms of minutes. In between come technology, interior fittings and the building itself. Tensions between these layers can be minimised, no matter what type of building is involved, by effective refurbishment.

It is vital from the very start to understand the decision making process’s complexities, both physical and technical. Organisations commonly require a change of workplace for two reasons. Either new cultures and technologies need to be introduced, or the business itself is changing to require a different staffing level. Accommodating these changes is always a business critical matter.

When a company is expanding, the intelligent use of space can often deal effectively with a larger number of staff. In some cases, this can be done by means of tweaking the appropriate planning standards. In others, it is achieved by making more effective use of space that has previously been poorly used. In most cases, the two approaches are combined. Similarly, change on a significant scale can be accommodated by selecting the optimum space planning model and working cultures, and investigating new working methods.

No matter what decision is taken, there are several factors which are crucial to office interior design.

Business culture

Any effective business understands how it operates. It is not always straightforward to achieve self-awareness, but a wide range of stakebolders can be consulted in the process. These should include suppliers and customers, as well as employees themselves. Then, a brief can be drawn up, ideas can be worked out and people can be engaged. It is also important to consider the organisation’s style of management, communications factors and working practices in general.

Cost

Although a thorough refurbishment may be no cheaper than full relocation, it may well have financial advantages. This may be especially the case with phased occupations. It is of the utmost importance to incorporate flexible design from day one, and to concentrate on ownership costs in the longer term.

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There is increasing evidence that branding can be significantly affected by a company’s buildings; this can militate against a move to new premises. This is especially the case if your firm has become particularly associated in the minds of customers or suppliers with a specific building.

Legal matters

Your decisions are likely to be affected by several relatively recent laws, especially if older premises may be refurbished. For example, legislation relating to the use and/or cleanup of asbestos can have a major impact, as can legal requirements to provide access for disabled people. Also, consider possible legislation that may affect you in the future.

Recruitment

Staff may be attracted by new premises, although a number of other factors are important. These include the provision of local amenities, public transport and whether the building is located in a popular area. Some staff are likely to remain with a moving organisation if these factors are suitable. Non-physical factors are also of prime importance, however: workplace values and ethics, such as corporate responsibility, have been shown to attract high-calibre staff.

Ethics

Following on from the previous point, environmental factors may well be very significant. Some companies have built up long-term relationships with their local area, and may wish to remain there in order to offer jobs to the community. In some cases, investing in a particular site may bring benefits in terms of tax incentives.

Productivity and wellness

Employees’ well-being, and therefore productivity, can be greatly improved by the use of best practice in office interior design. This should result in a win-win situation whereby your staff work better and more productively both as part of a team and on individual tasks.

You should always take account of the organisation as a whole when making interior design decisions. This extends to the project itself: each aspect of it should be closely monitored to ensure maximum co-operation. Finally, work to ensure that there is strong support for the new building by those who will actually work in it.