“Any space can be improved with a creative design input,” says David Back, MD of Artillery Architecture and Interior Design – a company that specialises in refurbishment and re-organisation projects. “The introduction of flat screen computers has resulted in a reduced need for large workstations and cultural shifts in working practices have meant that people are also more flexible now.”
With environmental concerns at the top of every business agenda, many companies are also refurbishing their offices from cellular to open plan, which further helps to free up office space.
“Even quirky buildings that have lots of character and might be considered difficult can be made to work,” continues Back, who oversaw the refurbishment of some of Amnesty International’s London offices when they reached occupational capacity in 2000.
Artillery converted the 60-year-old buildings, originally designed as industrial premises, into modern, flexible office space. The change allowed staff numbers to be increased from 320 to 513.
But it’s not just a case of creating more office space. Artillery’s refurbishment solution has meant fewer of Amnesty’s staff suffer from sickness as a result of improved natural ventilation that’s enhanced the air quality, while safety in the workplace has improved by 40 per cent.
In addition to improvements to the working environment, the value of Amnesty’s buildings has increased by an amount well in excess of the cost of the works.
“Refurbishing premises in line with new trends in office design can considerably enhance property values,” explains Back.
By comparison, the relocation process can be expensive and disruptive involving solicitor and agent fees, increased rent, staff retention issues and considerable management time associated with handling the move.
“Many firms don’t realise that professional workplace analysis can not only provide considerable benefits but also ultimately save you the upheaval and cost of relocating,” concludes Back.