All you need to know about office fit out
Think office space and historically it would have been a bland room with a few desks, rows of computers, maybe some generic art on the wall, a water cooler in the corner and not much else.
Thankfully offices have come a long way in the last 20 years and now increasingly reflect the diverse needs of the modern workforce they house. However, if you’re moving office premises, it might well be into a space which could benefit from a custom office fit out. Creating the right setting is essential for staff productivity and business efficiency. And thanks to the Covid pandemic it’s more important than ever to build a space which encourages creativity and workflow while also offering flexible working and safety.
What is an Office Fit Out?
In essence, an office fit out is everything that goes into the space where your employees work.
It encompasses the furniture, the lighting, the environmental controls, the design, layout and workflow. It may also include the structural elements required to turn an empty shell into a functional space such as ceilings, walls, lighting, heating, air conditioning and waste disposal. A well-thought-out office space will have an intelligent layout that works with, rather than against, your business needs. Design is considered so spaces are user friendly and flow well, staff can interact easily, and communication is effective. Office fit out contractors will create a space which reflects that. For example, the marketing team might need a bright, busy space in the hub of it all while accounts might require a quieter area close to senior management.
They’ll also go beyond the internal space and consider how it will function for staff. For example, they’ll look at parking availability, whether there is a bike store and showers for those that cycle, and how the building can be designed to promote wellbeing because these are things which may be really important to your staff.
Benefits of an Effective Fit Out
Your staff will work wherever you tell them to work but the benefits of a properly designed environment cannot be underestimated.
Not only does a fit out enable you to update your facilities and keep on top of safety regulations it provides the opportunity to create a space that really inspires staff. A well-designed space with break out areas, showers, kitchen spaces, and functional and dynamic workstations will improve communication, increase productivity, benefit health, and boost morale. It will also encourage the most talented people to apply when recruiting and it will reduce staff turnover by giving them a place to work that they really like.
In addition, it shows staff you’re willing to invest in their wellbeing and listen to their needs which further cultivates a positive employer/employee relationship. An effective fit-out will also take account of environmental research and include elements that can improve staff productivity and wellbeing. The right lighting, for instance, can have a huge impact on the mood of an office and the health of its workers while creating a living wall of plants has been shown to bring massive benefits in terms of higher oxygenation, reduced CO2 build up (high CO2 levels can impact cognitive function), improved productivity and mood enhancement.
Office Fit Out vs Renovation
An office fit-out is the creation of an entirely new space in a building. For example, if your company is growing, you need to find larger premises and you move into an office block which requires desks, offices, break out areas and meeting rooms to be built. A renovation is the revamp of your existing space. For example, if you’ve been in the property for a while but décor is a bit dated, or the layout no longer suits your company needs and you’d simply like to modernise the existing facilities.
Types of Office Fit Out
There are varying degrees of office fit out depending on the building you choose, or already occupy, and your needs as a business:
1. Shell core fit out
– A shell fit out is pretty much what it says, there is literally nothing there except external walls and structure. Such a fit out may require the building of walls and spaces, the installation of environmental controls, lighting and acoustics and complete design throughout.
2. Cat A
– This type of fit out has more structure in place such as walls, heating, air conditioning etc and may instead require remodelling e.g. some building of internal walls, reimagining layout or the creation of new areas.
3. Cat B
– This is more like a renovation where structure and space have already been designed and work involves updating it and making it ready to work in.
How Much Does an Office Fit Out Cost?
It’s almost impossible to put a figure on the cost of an office fit out simply because it varies so greatly from one business to another.
A SME with 50 people moving into a single floor of an office block is going to have vastly different costs to a multinational company with a 1000 staff which is moving to an entirely new building.
Crown designers will work with you and your staff over time to observe how they operate, how they use the existing spaces and to find out what their needs are so that whatever the budget.
A fit out can be tailored specifically to your company. The designers engage with staff to ensure they feel invested in the process and outcome.
Mistakes to Avoid
A fit out is such an important part of your company identity that it’s vital to get it right from the outset. Correcting mistakes can be costly so there are steps you can take to make sure everything goes right first time:
1. Failing to have a budget in place from the outset is a recipe for disaster as costs can spiral quickly without a financial framework.
2. Not engaging a specialist fit out service can also cost you more in the long run – specialists will have the expertise and experience to project manage the entire process as well as make cost effective or innovative suggestions you may not have considered.
They can also help you to maximise your budget, take advantage of industry savings and simply use more efficient workflow systems because they’ve done it before.
3. Failing to involve your staff can also derail a fit out.
What you may consider important as the MD may be completely irrelevant to your staff, so their opinion is vital. They’re the living, breathing heart of your company and the ones who will be using the space most. If you don’t listen to them the resulting changes could impact productivity, staff turnover and ultimately affect the bottom line. However, if they’re engaged from the start, they are invested in it and play an active role in how the office is shaped.
Making your office fit out environmentally friendly
Sustainability is central to Crown’s ethos when it comes to office fit outs, and it is considered at every stage from initial concept to completion and beyond. With the effects of climate change ever present in the news it is more important than ever to consider how to minimise the environmental impact.
Crown Workspace UK, unlike other fit out experts, has the capacity to take existing office furniture and refurbish it so it is like new, which can also be more cost effective. The same applies to computer equipment, whether it’s equipment a company wants to purchase or older devices which need replacing. There is also the health aspect of a fit out which needs to be considered. The right air conditioning and heating systems can keep rooms at a consistent temperature, making heating a property more environmentally friendly. They can also help filter viruses, reducing staff days lost to illness, and is particularly pertinent in a post-Covid world.
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- Set a budget – Decide this early on and stick to it. It’s better to maximise the budget you have than not set one and allow costs to run away. Savings can be made in some areas such as refurbished furniture and computer equipment to allow for more spending in others.
- Consider usage – Think about how the space will be used and what for. Will staff be mostly office-based or will it be used for flexible working/hot desking? Would individual offices suit or does open plan fit better? Will it just be staff in the building, or will clients visit?
- Specialist involvement early on – It’s a good idea to get fit out designers involved from as early as possible. Getting things like LED lighting and air conditioning sorted early reaps benefits from an employee perspective but it can also reduce heating and lighting costs dramatically, so the cost of work pays for itself in future energy bill savings.
- Ask staff – Canvas for employee opinion and get them involved at every stage of the process.
- Consider branding – How do you want your brand identity incorporated into your office? Do you want it to be overt or more subtle? What elements are most important to you? How do you want to convey your company message?
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