Considerations for an Office Refit – Part 1: Information Gathering
So, you feel that your business needs are not being met by your current workspace – this maybe due to increasing staff numbers, changes in working practices, increased demand for machinery, more stock holding space, physical degradation or a combination of elements, for example – what should you consider in order to get the desired result?
In a series of articles we have attempted to break-down the process into 3 simple themes that, when followed, should provide a business/property owner with a solid set of principles that will enable them to embark on a refit/refurb of their premises to achieve the desired outcome. Of course, we are only providing a brief overview of the major considerations here and would recommend holding detailed conversations with office design specialists should you wish to take a project from the theoretical to the practical stage!
In this article we are going to focus on the bedrock of such a process, often under-valued, which we have called the ‘Information Gathering’ phase: that is, in order for a refurbishment to be considered, there is evidently some ‘problem’ with the existing premises however, without the correct information at hand it can be all too easy to arrive at the wrong ‘solution’. This is an incredibly important step and we have broken it down into the following areas:
Consult Your Staff
This might seem like a ‘no-brainer’ but it’s still surprising how many projects are envisaged on the basis of a top-down approach within organisations. Problems with inadequate facilities, for example, are often fed upwards in the managerial chain but staff are not then involved in the proposing of possible solutions.
For the best outcome it’s essential to engage staff at all levels for their opinions – what do they like about their current workspace, what don’t they like, how would they change it, what additional facilities would be desired, what changes would enable them to work better/smarter etc?
If you canvass your staff’s opinions prior to putting together a plan for a refurb you will have a much better picture of what needs to be done, and what doesn’t, than if you second-guess their opinions from a position of detachment from the actual ‘shop floor’.
Establish Your Budget
OK, so you know have a good idea of the problems faced by your staff in the current working environment and, no doubt, will have received a multitude of suggestions for improvements: no what? Well, as we are focusing on refits/refurbishments we’ll ‘ignore’ the balancing of whether or not your current physical space can accommodate the changes required (if they can’t then a relocation would be required), the next step – and, of course, one of, of not THE, most important – is establishing your budget.
A poorly planned process with loosely defined parameters can quickly spiral a budget out of control and so a major project such as a fit-out should be carefully planned at the outset so that a tight budget can be established that can, with a small contingency (for unplanned eventualities), be relied upon.
Engage Office Interiors Specialists
With the best will in the World, project managing a largescale refit-refurbishment is a specialist role and it’s unlikely most companies will have someone with the expertise, knowledge and time to undertake such a role within the company itself. Therefore, it’s essential to employ external contractors and/or contractor.
There are many different working arrangements between those in need of a refit and those undertaking it:
- You may wish to engage the services of a project manager who will coordinate the works with a number of contractors to deliver the end result: this can prove quite an expensive way of moving forward as external contractors will need to be engaged for every specialism required as opposed to being able to draw upon the skills pool of a major contractor
- You may wish to manage the project and employ the relevant contractors as/when required: this requires considerable specialist knowledge, and time, on behalf of the engaging company to enable coordination of the different arms of the project.
- You may wish to engage the services of an office refit specialist company who will undertake the ‘end-to-end’ process: in this model, the full process from start to finish is handled by one contractor who will have specialists in space planning, design, all the required trades and should appoint a project manager to coordinate the whole process and be your single point of contact.
We would suggest that, unless you have an abundance of time and expertise, option 3 provides for the most ‘stress-free’ approach and the problems associated with coordinating the work of multiple contractors is also removed.
Establish The Costs
Yes, we’ve already mentioned establishing budgets but that’s really a focus on what the company can afford to spend to achieve a result – with costs, this relates to you having discussed, in detail, the issues you are facing with your current workspace with a refit specialist and a solution being proposed.
When you have completed the above steps you will have a good handle on what lies ahead, costs and timescales provided by your chosen fit-out specialists. However, as you move forward to more detailed discussions on how the new project is to develop, there are a myriad of considerations to be discussed and in subsequent articles we will turn out attention to the various options you will need to consider and, with the guidance of your chosen contractor, compile to produce a full plan of works to be undertaken to give you the workplace your organisation needs.