Office Refurbishment Guide

An office refurbishment is an ideal opportunity to revitalise your office and create a more modern space for all who use it. Undergoing an office refurbishment is usually much cheaper than moving offices and keeps the familiarity with both employees and customers. 

In this guide, we will show how you can successfully plan an office refurbishment project and what you need to think about when the times come to refurbish your office. 

What is an office refurbishment?

An office refurbishment usually involves renovations to the interior design, floors, furniture, walls, floors, kitchen area, meeting rooms, breakout areas, bathroom facilities and windows.

There is no one size fits all idea of an office refurbishment, some projects may consist of small works to improve a certain space, and others may be large projects which totally revamps your office space giving it a revitalised feel and look.

What is the difference between an office refurbishment and an office fit-out?

An office fit-out is carried out on new office space, whereas an office refurbishment is carried on within your existing office.

What are the benefits of an office refurbishment?

If an office refurbishment is carried out correctly then there are many benefits. The project needs to be correctly planned, budgeted and managed to be successful. 

Creating a warm and welcoming space for your staff, customers and prospective customers will help your business flourish and can help with:

  • Increased staff productivity
  • Staff morale
  • Staff retention
  • Improve business performance
  • Attract new customers

An office refurbishment project does not need to break the bank to be successful and can be a creative and exciting project for everyone who gets involved.

What’s included in an Office Refurbishment?

There is no one size fits all when it comes to an office refurbishment, it depends on what you, the client, wants to achieve and what you have to spend. The more bespoke the requirements the higher the cost.

Why Do You Want To Perform An Office Refurbishment?

Establishing the main reason as to why you require an office refurbishment is key to a successful project. Your office may be looking tired and in need of a refresh, have surplus space or you are growing and need to accommodate new staff.

Other factors like embracing a new way of working or focusing on employee wellbeing may also influence your decision. Your existing office may not be suitable for hot-desking or new technology such as an access control system to help secure your offices from external threats and to protect certain areas from being accessed. 

Office design trends change and what may have worked 10 years ago, may not work today. Smart offices and changes in hybrid working have driven changes recently, and the introduction of flexible working laws back in 2014, also had a major impact. 

Think about what your team want and need, both now and in the future. What works and what does not, and what a refurbished office can do for your company. An office refurbishment is a reflection of your brand and can have a major role in attracting and retaining staff. Providing a workplace that works has risen in importance.

It may not be one factor which has made you decide to refurbish your offices, whatever the factors keep them in mind when planning and designing your new office space.

Reasons for an Office Refurbishment

  • To meet health and safety guidelines based on an Audit or a change to legislation
  • Staffing needs change (increase/decrease) or you need to change based on hybrid working or what staff would like from an office space.
  • The office needs an update as it looks tired and outdated.
  • Your lease is expiring and your landlord has offered to update the space.
  • Your current space does not reflect your brand (or you have rebranded and want to update your office)
  • You want to create a more inspiring place to work.

Why should we refurbish our Office?

It’s important that you define the reasons why you want to perform an office refurbishment. There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to creating a new office workspace, so getting a list of why you are performing it, and what your company require from the refurbishment will be key to ensuring that the project outcomes align with your ultimate aims. 

Now that you have your reasons why you want an office refurbishment, and know what you want, it is time to get prepared and work through the essential steps to create your new workspace. 

Preparing your brief

In order to have an office which meets your aims, you need a brief which lists everything that you want. This will incorporate your company ethos, styles of working, what your staff and customers like, how many staff you have, functional requirements, branding and also your budget. 

If you plan on working with a company to support you with your office refurbishment, then they can help you define your requirements and advise you on how your current space can be improved to better suit your needs. 

To help you get started on your brief, here are a few key areas you need to think about: 

Workplace technology 

  • Does your office need more smart technology to allow your team to undertake virtual meetings? 
  • Do you have enough electrical sockets? 
  • Do you have wi-fi?

Fixtures and fittings

  • Do you require more space? Is your partitioning in the right place? 
  • Is your carpet looking dated and worn? Will a deep clean help or does it need totally replacing?
  • Is the lighting system sufficient? Does it light up your space properly or could you use better use of natural light?
  • Is your office furniture looking old? Do you have the correct layout of the furniture? Do you need more storage space?
  • Does everyone have suitable seating whilst at their computer? Is it ergonomic? 

Office design 

A well-designed office creates the perfect space in which your employees can thrive. 

  • Does your office design truly reflect your company?
  • Does your customer welcome area look welcoming and professional? 
  • Could you bring your brand into your office more?

Office acoustics

  • Is your office noisy?
  • Is there enough breakout spaces where people can have quiet conversations?
  • Are staff able to concentrate?

Floor plan

  • Does your current office layout help or hinder how your company operates?
  • Is your office open and welcoming? Or is it cramped?
  • Can people communicate easily between teams? Or does this need to be improved?
  • Does it allow for the easy flow of people through it? Or is it a maze?
  • Is it flexible to your needs?
  • Can people easily access what they need when they need it? Or do they have to go through several doors?

Your Office Refurbishment wishlist

Now you have the questions above, it is worth getting a wishlist with a few top-level wants for your new office space.

Your Wishlist

  • We have nowhere to eat lunch comfortably
  • We do not have enough meeting areas
  • We want to adopt a more flexible way of operating
  • Our office is too noisy
  • We don’t have private spaces 
  • We can’t speak to other team members easily
  • Our space is not visually appealing 
  • We want to have more technology integrated through the space
  • We can not show products to clients easily

Getting a list of top-level wants will allow you to refit out the company to understand your immediate needs. Try and make sure everyone has a say as this will help create a space where everyone has contributed to creating. 

Office Refurbishment Budgets & Costs

Your office refurbishment project will be a major investment, so it is vital that you plan your budget so that you can keep costs in line and work to what you can afford. Your budget will depend on a few factors, which are listed below:

  • How old your building is
  • The type of building and space 
  • Your current mechanical and electrical services and if they require an upgrade or alterations
  • Any IT upgrades required
  • The type of finish you require and how bespoke you would like this

Office refurbishment costs start from around £35 per Sq. Ft. for a basic refurbishment right up to over £100 per Sq. Ft. if you wish to have something very bespoke.

Approach your landlord and ask them if they could contribute or reduce our rents to help with the costs. After all, they will be left with a space with is more appealing to tenants once complete. 

To also help with office refurb costs look at leasing options and tax breaks which could help you save a considerable amount of money. Speaking with a tax expert will help if you do not have access in-house. They could help you save money by:

  • Signing up to a low-interest leasing plan
  • Maximising your capital allowances
  • Activating tax allowances for using sustainable materials during the refurb

Beware of any hidden costs and ensure that your chosen company provides a fully detailed itemised quote. 

Your budget should include contingencies for any unforeseen fees and that professional fees, IT costs, telecoms, insurances and PR costs are taken into account.

Create a team to manage your office refurbishment project

Once you have a defined list of wants, needs and requirements for your office refurb, you now need to put together a team or individual to spearhead the project and liaise with your commercial office refurbishment company. They need to have the ability to make decisions, can communicate clearly, can manage budgets effectively, and ultimately someone who knows what is best for your company and wishes to create an environment where your staff can excel.

Attributes of a refurbishment project manager

  • Is well organised
  • Knows your business
  • Is a great planner
  • Has experience with budgets
  • Communicates well
  • Has the ability to gain buy-in from others

After selecting your team or individual to spearhead your project, you then need to think about other departments and who needs to be involved in order to meet their goals also. Below is a list of potential departments that need to be involved: 

HR – Your staff need to be kept up to date with places, therefore HR can ensure that everything is communicated correctly and people are aware of what will be happening, and when it will be happening. Oversharing 

IT – Technology is incredibly important when it comes to modern offices. So ensuring that IT is involved is key to a successful office refurbishment project that will enable your space to be future-proofed for years to come. 

Marketing – Creating a workspace that truly reflects your brand and its values is another key objective with your office refurb. 

Facilities – Nobody knows the building better than the Facilities team so it really is a no brainer to get them involved at an early stage.

Operations – Ensuring that your company can still function whilst the refurb is underway is no easy feat. Are you going to move to another office? Do you have space in your current office where you can operate, or will it be too noisy? If you plan on having employees working from home then this needs to be discussed and planned effectively. 

Finance – Keeping a handle on budgets and ensuring that they stay within your quotes and estimates is crucial to a successful project. They need to be able to raise PO’s and pay invoices when required, this will ensure the office refurbishment project stays on track and completes quickly.

How to select a commercial office refurbishment partner

Picking the right commercial office refurbishment company is paramount to a project which meets all of your companies goals. The sooner you pick a partner, then the quicker you can get the project moving. 

We would recommend that you speak to commercial contacts, neighbouring companies and peers in order to find recommendations for who they would recommend. Try and get at least 3 companies to speak to, and ask them the below questions in order to find someone who suits you the best.

  • Who have you worked with before? (Have they worked with companies that you know and could speak to)
  • Have you worked with companies in our sector before?
  • Are you able to deliver a project whilst it is occupied?
  • Do you work to a fixed budget? (Reduces hidden and unexpected fees)
  • How do you plan a project ensuring there is no disruption to business operations?
  • Can we visit some of your recent projects?
  • Do you offer space planning or a test fit service prior to being appointed?
  • Can you help with planning permission/license to alter applications?
  • Can you help with office furniture specifying and purchasing?
  • How financially stable are you?

A great office refurbishment fit-out partner should be able to provide a range of key services, such as office design, space planning, project management, mechanical and electrical works, decorating and furniture supply. Dealing with one company will ensure that communication is clear as there is just one point of contact. Ensuring that the people from your company and your chosen commercial office refurbishment company also have a good rapport from the start, this relationship will be key throughout the project.

Due diligence checks

Due diligence checks will help you partner with a company that has a strong financial record. Your project will involve significant risk in terms of budget, so partnering with a company with a high credit rating and strong financial track record will ensure that your project will be completed. 

Insurance, accreditations and references

Checking that they have relevant insurances in place, references and industry accreditations is further proof that they have been externally accredited and checked, that they possess insurance to cover a range of circumstances and that they have happy customers who would recommend them. 

Project size 

Have they only worked on minor projects before? Or have they worked on a whole plethora of office refurbishments projects? If they have a wide range then they can cater to your needs.

Working closely with your Office Refurbishment partner

After finding an office refurbishment company to work with, and having agreed on the deliverables, budget and satisfied yourself with their references, accreditations and financials, it is time for the next stage.

Your partner will start looking at detailed plans, relevant permissions (if required) from your landlord and potentially local authorities, getting paperwork in order and coming up with a detailed plan with key milestones in mind.

If you are planning on staying in your office whilst the refurbishment takes place then the planning of this will also take place, and this will then need to be communicated to your staff.

The plans and deliverables process could involve several meetings to select layouts, furniture and finishes, and it is vital that everything is thought about and planned at this stage.

Office Refurbishment Space Planning

Space planning is used to determine how a space (or spaces) should be used and laid out. It is when you can start seeing your ideas, wishlist and needs start to formulate into an actual plan and layout. 

Agile and/or Hybrid working 

Hybrid working is becoming an important consideration when choosing to work for an employee, so thinking about this will help you stand out in a competitive marketplace when it comes to recruiting the best staff for your company. 

Areas to be considered when space planning 

  • All open plan office areas – departments/teams
  • Meeting rooms and informal meeting areas
  • Director’s and Managers offices
  • Reception area, visitor waiting
  • Breakout areas
  • Copy/Print Hubs
  • Conferencing and audiovisual facilities
  • Toilet facilities
  • Waste and recycling points
  • Refreshment points
  • Building services

As workplace design and space planning is progressing, it is important that your key staff have a say in their area of responsibility.

3D visuals

3D visuals allow you to really start to see how your new office space will look. These use photo-realistic renders to allow you to see the space from all angles, and give you a true impression of what the end result will be for your project. 3D visuals will allow you to make any final alterations to your design and to also share with stakeholders, staff and customers to enable them to follow your journey and get buy-in from all parties. 

Legal requirements

Your office refurbishment company should also make you aware that your project is in full compliance what the Equality Act 2010. The act places a duty on property managers and landlords, as well as employers of disabled people to ensure that adjustments have been made to the working environment so that it is suitable for any employees with disabilities.

Office Refurbishment Timescales

Ensuring that the start, duration and finish of your office refurb also need to be planned. If you have any critical dates where your company needs to be operating, then working around these dates is best. Look at times when your business may be quiet if you are seasonal, or when staff have planned holidays. 

Do you need to arrange temporary office arrangements?

For most commercial refurbishment projects a temporary office move is not necessary. Companies are used to working around you to ensure minimal disruption whilst your project is underway. They sometimes also work after business hours to further reduce disruption. 

Managing Your Office Refurbishment 

As your project starts and the move begins, it is important to keep staff aware of what is happening, and that the programme of activity moves along in line with key milestones and dates that you have set out. 

It is important that you have thought about parking and facility access for contractors, scheduling frequent site visits to appraise progress and communicating with project teams and other tenants if you occupy a multi-tenanted building to let them know what works are being carried out.

As the project moves through milestones ensure that sections are checked and any snags are listed and rectified quickly. A walkaround of the site or sections is the quickest way to do this, then set deadlines for snags to be fixed, ensure that your project keeps pace with your deadlines.

Choosing the right Office furniture

Selecting furniture is another important milestone in your project, looking at this at the planning stage is advisable, however, it’s not until the end of your project that this will start to be moved into your space.

Your furniture selection is important and should reflect your brand and new space. Spend time specifying new furniture as your team will spend much of their working day either at their desk or in meeting rooms. Getting furniture that promotes good posture will also help.

The office design has been finalised, your project plan has been agreed and everybody is gearing up to move onsite to deliver the project, don’t forget to spend some time selecting the right furniture for your new workplace.

Your office refurbishment company should be able to advise you on furniture choices and the best brands based on your budget. Trial the furniture and see what your staff like the best. Do some of your staff like stand up desks? Do they have certain conditions or disabilities that require some added thought when specifying furniture? Take your time and ensure that you make the correct decision not just for now, but for the future too.

Ensuring a smooth handover of your new office

With your project coming to an end soon, any snags have been highlighted and rectified, your staff getting excited to finally have the contractors leave to let them enjoy their new space. It is time to start looking at a phased handover of your space. 

As each section is finished and furniture and equipment are moved and installed ready for the following week, this usually takes place on a weekend so the new space is ready for the next week. This will also allow any problems to be flagged up and addressed. 

Spend time evaluating your new space and ensuring everything works and is fit for purpose, some snags may still remain, however, these should be addressed quickly by your office refurb company. 

Moving into your new space

If you have completed a phased approach to your space then moving in will take place over a matter of weeks. If your staff have been working elsewhere then you need to decide on a day when everyone moves in. We would recommend that everything is tested prior to this day to make sure systems, IT equipment and everything else is working correctly. 

Communication is key and letting your staff know what is happening, and when, is vital to a smooth transition. 

Regular emails of progress, walkarounds of your team and chats will help people keep in the loop. 

On the big day of the final move, having a team breakfast will create a buzz, try and get some PR by inviting local journalists, as well as customers, partners and the office refurbishment company to have a well-deserved celebration of your new space.

Richard is Clarion's marketing executive and has over 15 years of experience in marketing for local, national and international brands. Please feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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