Office Fit Out or Refurbishment?
Nearly everyone, from Office Managers to Chief Operating Officers, tasked with planning and delivering an office project for their company finds it a bit overwhelming. There are so many different considerations and often conflicting priorities to manage. If you get it wrong, it’s not only a very expensive misstep, but one that can damage your culture and company performance.
So, it’s crucial to get this right – both for you and your company. One of the first (and most important) decisions to make is do you need an office fit out or an office refurbishment? To learn more about the differences between the two read our article What’s the Difference Between Office Fit Out and Office Refurbishment?
The first thing is to speak to leadership and staff to establish what is wrong with your office as it is. You can then consider what the new office needs to achieve, and any constraints (timescales and budgets especially). This will form your initial project brief, which will be an essential guide when making your decision.
While there are a lot of different aspects to consider, there are 5 key elements that will dictate your decision. These are:
Below, we’ve explained each in detail, as well as the best option in different scenarios. Let’s get started!
The first thing to establish is the purpose of your project. Whether you’re looking to adapt your office to suit staff changes or completely recreate the way your company operates will have a massive impact on the approach to the project, and the outcomes.
If you need to have a workspace that allows for hybrid working, then you’ll probably be able to refurbish it. In most cases, transitioning to a hybrid workspace involves reducing the number of desks and increasing collaboration areas, which can nearly always be done within your existing space.
If, on the other hand, your staff count has risen sharply in the last few years and you can’t get staff back in the office because there’s simply not enough room, then relocation is obviously the best option. As a general rule, refurbishment is quicker and cheaper than an office fit-out. As a result, you should only look to relocate if there’s an issue with your current space that can’t be fixed, such as the size.
Over the last 2 years, entire boroughs have transformed to suit new industries and communities. It’s quite likely your ideal location from 2019 is no longer worth the investment. With the commute no longer compulsory, transport is more important than ever – if your office is difficult to get to, staff just won’t want to come in.
If your staff have become much more dispersed over the last 2 years, then a Central London location may no longer be necessary – would a Greater London location be easier to access, higher quality, and cheaper?
Your lease terms are a critical consideration during the initial planning for any office fit out or office refurbishment. When will your lease expire? What are the chances of renewal? If you are very likely to move out of your existing space within 2 years, then there is little benefit to carrying out a full strip out and fit out – a reconfiguration would be more cost-effective.
Recently, many companies have opted for a short-term renewal to their existing lease. This is due to the high uncertainty in the commercial real estate market, caused by hybrid working and changing employee preferences. If you are in this situation, a mid-touch refurbishment or reconfiguration will likely enable you to achieve nearly everything you need, with a far lower risk of making huge investments that could be wasted.
As mentioned earlier, space is one thing that you can’t change in your existing office, though there are several options. If you have too much space, then you may be able to split off part of it into a sublet space, not only reducing wasted space but generating additional income. On the other hand, not enough space doesn’t necessarily mean you have to relocate – you may be able to lease additional space within your existing building.
If all your staff are only in the office 1-3 days a week, do they all need an individual desk? With a hybrid working model, the prime purpose of coming into the office is to collaborate with colleagues, and network with people across your company. By reducing your desk count and increasing your collaboration spaces, you can make your workspace better suited to the way your people need to use it.
While cost won’t change what is best for your business, it can certainly define what is possible. If your company has a limited budget available, there is no point in planning a relocation to a cutting-edge workspace in a prime location, as that is clearly a waste of time and resources.
This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to work with your leadership team to define your project brief. It is also important for your leadership to be realistic about what you can expect to achieve on the budget they set. To help give you an idea of initial costs, you can check out our office refurbishments costs article or our office fit out costs guide.
While very different in scope, design approach, and costs, both office fit out and office refurbishment have the same goal: to make your space better at meeting the needs of your staff and your company. Neither is “the best”. It depends on your goals and requirements as to which is more appropriate for you.
For more help deciding which is best for you, read these two articles:
If you’re interested in an office refurbishment, head over to our office refurbishment page to learn more. Whether it’s a light-touch refresh or a complete redesign, we have the track record to deliver your office refurbishment project with minimal disruption to your business. If an office fit out or relocation is more appropriate for you, we provide a concept to completion office fit out service find out more here.
Not sure which is right for you? Speak to one of our workspace experts today. We will be able to guide you through the process, help you decide, and be there for you from start to finish. Best of luck with your project!