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Top tips for managing an office fitout

A new office environment can boost a business’s brand image as well as enhance productivity, but planning is needed to get it right.
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A firm’s office move presents a great opportunity to improve its business through an office fit out. Refurbishing and fitting out tired existing premises may also provide a welcome boost. However, it is essential that there is adequate planning otherwise the benefits of a new office will fail to materialise or worse be detrimental to the business. Here are ten top tips for a successful office fit out.

· At the outset define the business’s principal objectives of a fit out, such as accommodating a growing workforce, improving the brand image with smarter offices and/or boosting staff morale, retention and productivity. It is a good idea to consult throughout the company to find out the most important aims of creating a new office environment.

· To sketch out initial fit out requirements consult widely on proposals with employees, department heads, IT professionals – both internal and external consultants. It is also important to discuss initial plans with the landlord at an early stage, and particularly check whether the proposed changes will result in hefty re-instatement costs under dilapidation clauses within the lease agreement.

· To drive the project forward it is best to appoint one person to co-ordinate and act as champion with sufficient weight to persuade colleagues to assist as well as liaise with the project’s contractors and consultants. This will also help simplify the process as well as speed decision making.

· Select partners that will be involved in the fit out such as design consultancy, mechanical and electrical engineer, surveyor and IT consultant. Choose a fit out consultancy with a proven track record and it will be less time consuming to manage the project if the consultancy can source trusted contractors as well as carry out the design work. Make sure the fit contractor/s consultant/s have the necessary insurance covers and health and safety credentials.

· Have a detailed timetable of when the projects’ key stages need to start and be completed and make sure that the project is monitored and progress tracked.

· Decide what type of fit out is required, whether a category B to shell and core, which includes basics such as raised flooring and ventilation, or category A – the final finishing work, or a complete comprehensive, category A and B refit.

· It is a good idea to involve the marketing team in office design to ensure that brand values are incorporated into it. This could mean for example the brand colour scheme, logo and standard typographical fonts are used as key elements within the design.

· Assess how the office can be made greener and energy bills cut through methods such as improvements to insulation and installation of energy efficient LED lighting and the latest in heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technology.

· Make sure contractors comply with health and safety legislation. Under construction, design and management legislation (CDM) the site owner or leaser is responsible for health and safety issues.

· Arrange well in advance for furniture, IT equipment and HVAC equipment to be purchased with scheduled delivery dates. Late ordering can lead to crucial equipment delivery being delayed, severely pushing back the launch date for the new office to be up and running.

It can’t be over emphasised that the earlier planning for a fit out takes place before the new office needs to be up and running, the better the chance of a successful fit out that will help boost business.

Jeff Tucknott is a director at design and fit out consultancy and contractor, Trend Projects.

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