Internal Office Fit Out Team
When you're preparing for your office fit out, selecting your project team is a crucial step. Without the right people involved – both externally and internally – your project is unlikely to be a success. You risk creating a poor brief that leads the project in the wrong direction, struggling to get internal buy-in or budget for your project, and facing delivery issues caused by choosing the wrong external partners.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. By educating yourself early on in the process and planning well, you can involve the right people in your project at the right time. This will dramatically increase your chances of success.
As an office design & build company, we speak to companies planning office fit outs every day. Choosing the right people to be involved in their project is a challenge every company faces. Today, we’ll run through the key roles you need on your project team, and the qualities each person needs to be successful in their role. We’ll also explain the key eternal partners you’ll need to include in your fit out project. By the end, you’ll know exactly what roles you’ll need to include in your office fit out. You may also know who should fill some of those roles.
What Does An Internal Team Do?
Your internal team is a crucial part of your office fit out. You will rely on your external team to do most of the work, but if you don’t get the right internal people in the right roles, your project will become very difficult.
Your internal office fit out team will first be responsible for initial planning and building the brief. As a team, you will then have to choose your external partners, make major decisions, feedback on their work and then finally sign off on their work.
If your project team is incomplete or you have the wrong person in a role, your project is very unlikely to be a success. You may lack the authority or expertise to make important decisions, or you will struggle to get team alignment. This would cause a lot of delays and conflicts that would damage the success of your overall project.
Office Fit Out Internal Team Roles
Internal Project Manager
The role of the internal project manager is often filled by an office manager, facilities manager, or a C-suite executive assistant. This person will be responsible for the smooth running of your office fit out on a day-to-day basis. Typically, this role involves maintaining internal alignment, coordinating communication, and making minor decisions.
Your project manager needs excellent organisational and communicational skills to coordinate the flow of information between internal experts and your external partners. They must also be able to maintain team alignment and prevent conflict.
It is also crucial that they are enthusiastic about the project and invested in its success. Because of their central role in the flow of information and alignment, this role, more than any other, holds the keys to the success of the overall project.
Often the CEO or another board member, this person is responsible for making the big decisions. Their day-to-day involvement is often limited, but they are kept informed by the internal project manager. They have the authority to secure funds, choose the new office, and decide which fit out company to use.
To be successful in their role, the decision maker must have the authority to make major investment decisions, though they may need board approval. They should also be skilled at building team alignment and leading the project at a high level.
This person is often a senior member of the finance team or the CFO. They’re responsible for deciding on a suitable budget along with the decision maker. During the project, they will keep an eye on expenditure and authorise payments.
The finance expert needs to be a balanced person who understands the benefits that an office fit out can bring, and focusses on the ROI, not just minimising the cost. Otherwise, they will likely cause unnecessary delays and reduce the quality of your new space as they try to minimise the outlay of the project.
They should also have a good knowledge of the different tax implications of construction law and tax, to ensure your fit out is financed in the most efficient way possible.
Often the HR or culture manager, your HR expert will be involved throughout the briefing and design phases to ensure the performance and well-being needs of your staff are considered. They’ll also be involved in the relocation itself, to support your staff through the change.
To be successful in their role, the HR expert needs to be an excellent communicator who is skilled at managing change and presenting to change to staff.
The IT expert is often a middle management IT person, such as the Head of IT. They’ll be involved throughout the detailed design phase to ensure your new office has the necessary technology. They’ll also be involved during the relocation, to minimise the downtime for your staff.
To be successful in their role, your IT expert must be someone with excellent organisational skills who can handle stress. Especially if you are relocating office, they will be involved in IT decommissioning and recommissioning, which is one of the most important parts of moving office. They should also be good communicators who can work well with your office design & build partner and not cause unnecessary delays.
There will almost certainly be other people in your company who will need to be involved in your office fit out. Who these people are will depend on the type of your project and the nature of your company, so we can’t say for certain who they will be.
Commonly, it is necessary for your legal team to be involved to review the contracts and ensure compliance, but this may be an external role. It can sometimes also be necessary to pull in other heads of departments to get their input on their areas of responsibility. It can also be helpful to get input from a representative selection of staff, to ensure you remain focussed on what is best for your people throughout the project.
What Does An External Team Do?
Your external office fit out team is made up of agents, specialists, and experts that you don’t have within your internal team. They do everything that your team doesn’t have the time or expertise to do.
Your external team will do most of the work, primarily in terms of designing your new space and then doing the fit out itself. You may also choose to engage other external experts to help you manage the project. External partners will be able to fit out your office to a higher standard in a shorter timeframe, and probably at a lower cost – benefitting everybody.
Authorities are also an important part of your external team. You will likely require signoff for the works from at least one local authority, and your landlord will also need to approve the new design and works. Just like your internal team, you need to choose your external fit out team very carefully to maximise your chances of project success.
Office Fit Out External Team Roles
Hiring an external project manager or cost consultant is not relevant for most office fit outs. For projects less than £1,000,000 in value, they rarely justify their costs. An external project manager can act as your representative to your design & build company as well as other external stakeholders. They will be more experienced than you in managing office fit out projects, and will be more aware of the common problems to avoid.
If you lease or rent your office, you will need official approval to fit out your office from your landlord, in the form of a licence to alter (LTA). While this is normally granted only for the final design, it is worth communicating early and regularly with your landlord. they will often have regulations about office design in their building and valuable input about the building itself. This will prevent you wasting time developing a design that your landlord will not approve.
If your works are external or structural, you may well need planning permission from your local council. Regulations change from area to area, so you will need to check the regulations and policies of your local council. If your building is listed, you will need listed building consent (LBC) from your local council before you can begin works. There are different grades of listing, so you may not always need LBC.
You will also need to ensure your new office fit out meets building regulations, and is signed off by your local council or a qualified consultant. This can only officially be done once the project is complete. However, we recommend that a building control consultant is involved in the design process, to prevent non-compliant design.
Design & Build Company
Your design and build company will be the most important external partner that you involve in your office fit out. These are the people that will take your brief and turn it into a fully-fledged office design. Once you are happy with the design, they will then fit out your office accordingly.
There are many office design & build companies, all with different areas of expertise, differentiators and cost structures. While some fit out companies are obviously better than others, there is on one “best” office fit out company – the best office fit out company will depend on your company, culture, and project brief.
There are 5 key aspects to consider when choosing the best office fit out company for your project. These are their areas of expertise, project portfolio, design capabilities, pricing levels/ structures, and customer care. To learn more about each and how to choose the best office fit out company, for you, read this article.
Building Your Office Fit Out Team
Now that you know the roles that need to be filled on your office fit out team, you can start to think about who. First, you should start with your internal team, who can build the brief. As a team, you can then start thinking about external partners to bring on board.
Choosing the right team is an absolutely crucial part of a successful office fitout. If you don’t get it right, your project is likely to face significant time and/or cost overruns, as well as an inappropriate design. Due to a lack of authority or alignment, it may never even happen at all.
However, with the right team, your project is almost certain to be a success. Even if you are working to a tight deadline or have other challenging circumstances, the right team can deliver the office that your company needs.
If you’re in the early stages of planning an office fit out, one of your key questions will likely be “How much will my office fit out cost?”. To help you decide an initial budget, we’ve created a free downloadable office fit out costs guide. While every project is different, we’ve analysed a wide range of office fit outs to give you a guide as to what you may need in your workspace, and what you can expect to spend to get it. Download your cost guide here.
If you are looking to learn more about planning for your upcoming fit out, read how to prepare an office fit out brief. There, you’ll learn about all the information you need to create your office fit out brief, and then how to format it to maximise the success of your office fit out.