Office Fit Out Questions
Are you considering an office fit out at your company, but still have a lot of questions? We understand that choosing whether or not to do an office fit out is a big decision. If you do go ahead, there are also many other important decisions that you have to make, such as which company to use, what is your budget, and what a successful office fit out looks like for you.
We’ve been fitting out offices in London and across the UK since 2008, working for companies such as LGT Vestra, BE Offices, and Freightliner. No matter what company size, industry, or project brief, there are a few questions that nearly every company asks us. Here we have compiled those questions, along with our answers.
What Actually Is Office Fit Out?
Office fit out is the process of making an interior space usable for its occupants. Typically carried out when a company relocates or opens a new office, it takes the space from a bare building to a ready-to-use environment. It’s different from refurbishment, because refurbishment improves a space that is already usable, normally partway through a lease term.
Every project is unique, but most office fit outs will involve nearly all of the below stages:
- Planning: Defining the brief for your project, and allocating the needed resource.
- Design: Turning the brief into a package that can be delivered, including layouts, costings, and visualisations.
- Build Out: the main construction works of the project, such as partitions, ceilings, and joinery.
- Life Systems: The systems in your office that protect staff in emergencies, such as sprinklers and fire alarms.
- Mechanical & Electrical: all the utilities that keep your space working, including power, data, and air conditioning.
- Finishes: The most visible part of your fit out project, including flooring, decoration, and design features.
- Furniture: All the movable elements used to enable your people to work, from desks to meeting booths.
Do I Need An Office Fit Out?
An office fit out is a big project, requiring large investments of money, time, and effort. Before you get carried away with design ideas and concepts, you should thoroughly assess whether your company actually needs an office fit out or not.
That hinges on whether your current office is performing as you need it to. You should also review your available space, and whether other business challenges, such as recruitment, could be helped by improving your office. You also need to consider what is realistic with your available funds. For a more detailed breakdown of these crucial questions, read Do I need an office fit out or not?
How Much Does Office Fit Out Cost?
One of the first questions we always get asked is “what will my office fit out cost?”. It's an important question, but unfortunately, there is rarely a straightforward answer. It depends on many factors, from the size and location of your space to the final specification.
Most office fit outs will cost between £50 and £100 per square foot of office space. However, this is heavily dependent on the specification of the materials used, and the size of your space. Larger spaces will cost less per square foot. Read How Much Does an Office Fit Out Cost in 2023? to learn more about the 5 major factors that affect the cost of your office fit out, and what you can expect to pay for your project.
How Long Does Office Fit Out Take?
Equally important as monetary cost is the time cost of your potential project. Again, the time you will need to allow for your project will vary widely depending on several factors. The key ones are how much planning is needed, the complexity of your requirements, and the size of your space.
A 5,000 sq/ft office fit out could take anywhere from 4 to 18 months to complete. The planning process does not vary much with size, so smaller offices will not take much less time. However, very large projects of 50,000 sq/ft or more may take significantly longer to deliver. For a detailed breakdown of each phase and the variables, read this article.
How Do You Plan For An Office Fit Out?
Office fit out success is almost impossible without careful and detailed planning. Without the right brief and team, your office move will not be a success, regardless of whether it meets your budget or your timelines, or neither. You should define your high-level motivations, criteria, and objectives before you even think about potential locations or design features. By clarifying the key reasons behind your office move and the success criteria, you can remain focussed on these throughout the project.
To learn more about planning for your office relocation, download our office relocation guide. In there, you’ll find an entire section explaining exactly what needs to be included in your project plan, and how you can create the best office relocation plan for your project.
Which Office Design Style Is Best?
This is quite a misleading question, as there is no one “best” office design style. What many people really mean when they ask this question is “What office design style is best for me?”. Yet again, the answer is “It depends”. In this case, it depends on how your people use the office, what business challenges you are facing, and your brand.
As well as the aesthetic design of your workspace, you should also consider which layout and environment design styles are best for your company. To maximise the performance of your people, your office should bring your brand to life, and match the way they work.
Should I Use A Design & Build Company For My Office Fit Out?
There are many other project models for an office fit out besides the design and build model. The most common is to split the project into design and delivery via a tender process. Some companies even choose to split the project down even further, appointing individual contractors.
Whether or not you should appoint a design and build company for your office fit out depends on your internal project management expertise, your timeframes, and the complexity of your requirements. If you are experienced in managing construction projects, then you may be better off using the tender model. However, for most companies, the design and build model is the most appropriate.
How Do I Decide Which Design & Build Company To Use?
If you do decide to use a decide and build company for your office fit out, the next decision will be which company to use. There are many different design and build companies out there, all with different pricing structures, areas of expertise, and customer care.
It's important not to get carried away with cool design ideas or low initial costs. Ultimately, you need to choose the contractor that is best able to deliver a workspace that delivers on your priorities, setting you up for success in the years to come. To learn more about this topic, read How to Choose the Best Office Fit Out Company For Your Project.
Can I Finance An Office Fit Out?
An office fit out is a big upfront investment, so it’s worth looking at ways to spread the cost over several months or years. Depending on the financial situation of your company, the best option will be either a bank loan or lease finance. Some office fit out companies will have a partnership with a lease finance firm, and will be able to support you with this. Otherwise, financing the fit out will be your responsibility.
There are also other ways you can reduce the upfront cost of your project. An increasingly popular option is to rent furniture for your office. This not only reduces the upfront cost, but enables you to change the furniture if it is unsuitable for your needs. Check out FluidSpace Flex to learn more about furniture rental.
How Much Space Do I Need?
With both office rental and fit out costing so much per square foot, a crucial consideration is how much space you actually need. Leasing too small a space will create a cramped office that limits the productivity of your people and does not allow for growth. Renting too large an office is a big cost your company doesn’t need.
A good place to start is 150sq/ft per person, though you may want to move that up or down based on your layout. You should then add at least 10-20% to allow for growth, as well as any special considerations such as a large front-of-house area. For a more detailed breakdown of the factors impacting this important decision, read this article.
Why Does Office Fit Out Matter?
The final key question we are so often asked when we speak to prospective clients is why does office fit out matter? Again, it’s a slightly misleading question, as what many are looking to understand is the impact that their project could have on the performance of their company. Inevitably, this is very dependent on their current office, as well as their business challenges and opportunities.
There are tangible ways in which a well-planned and executed office fit out will improve the performance of your company. Talent attraction and retention can be significantly improved by a great office, as can productivity, collaboration, and wellbeing. For a more detailed explanation of why office fit out might matter to you, read 8 ways an Office Fit out can improve company performance.
Got More Questions?
Here, we’ve gone through some of the most common and important questions we get asked when speaking to prospective clients. To learn more about office fit out, check out our insights centre. There, you’ll find lots of educational content to help you learn everything you need to know about office fit out. Check out our latest articles, most popular articles, and free guides.
Were any of your key office fit out questions not answered in this article? Let us know, and we’ll make sure to answer your question soon! If you’d like more help regarding any of these questions and how they apply to your company, reach out to our team. We’ll be glad to answer all your office fit out questions and see how we can support you.