Your office plays a crucial role in the performance of your company. Many offices are bland, cut-and-paste designs that don’t reflect your company or get the best out of your staff. Such offices can even hurt company performance. They decrease motivation and prevent your colleagues from working as productively as they can.
However, getting your manager or the board to recognise this is often a challenge. They tend to be more removed from the day-to-day of the office, spending more time in their private office than “out on the floor”. They are also extremely busy, and will only start to think about an office project when it becomes a crisis or the lease term ends.
At Zentura, we get enquiries every week from office managers and facilities managers planning an office refurbishment. One of their main challenges is demonstrating the value of the refurbishment to their manager or board. We work with these companies to help them decide if a refurbishment is right for them and, if so, what that should look like.
So how can you persuade your board or manager that you need an office refurbishment? It’s essential that you consider their perspective and the needs of the company, as well as your needs and those of your colleagues. In this article, we’ll explain the 6 steps necessary to persuade your manager you need an office refurbishment.
Define Your Reasons
Your first step is to define what exactly is wrong with your office at the moment. What are staff complaining about that hampers their productivity and performance? Are there not enough collaboration spaces, so staff are overloading the kitchen area? Are there too many desks but nowhere to focus in peace and quiet?
The problems aren’t always limited to what is immediately obvious. Rising absenteeism or worsening culture may all be signs that your workspace needs improvement. It can be difficult to spot these problems. Making sure you keep in contact with staff about their wellbeing and performance, as well as the role of the office within that, is crucial.
By defining what is wrong with your office, you will help your manager to see the issues for themselves. Establishing these problems at the start will also guide your entire project. This will make eventual success much more likely.
Build a Business Case
It is essential that there is a sound business case for your office refurbishment. Your recommendations need to be based on facts and data, not opinions and speculation. To build your business case, you need to explain how fixing each of the office problems will improve overall business performance.
The problem is that it can be very difficult to calculate the ROI of your office refurbishment. There are so many moving parts and different considerations, from operational costs to culture. There are also a lot of subjective elements that are difficult to quantify, such as wellbeing.
While we can’t create an online calculator that will give you an exact ROI of your project (sorry!), we have written an article explaining the most important benefits an office fit out provides, and how these will affect the ROI of your project. Check it out here.
It is hard to define the financial impact of some benefits like improved wellbeing. However, there is available research on how staff engagement impacts performance. Through the use of surveys, you can measure your staff engagement levels regularly. By budgeting how much your office refurbishment will cost, you can help set your manager’s expectations both of the investment required.
Anticipate Their Concerns and Objectives
Defining what is wrong with your office from the viewpoint of your manager or board is absolutely essential. While you may know what is wrong with the office, if they can’t see how those problems impact their priorities, they won’t take action. Your manager probably won’t care that your air conditioning is noisy and inefficient. However, if you can tell them that a new system will create a 20% saving in energy costs each year, they are much more likely to listen.
As well as fixing problems with your office, it is also worth considering the improvements an office refurbishment can bring. While staff productivity may not be an issue, improving it can have serious benefits for your business. Research shows that a well-designed office can increase productivity by up to 20%.
One of the main reasons your manager may reject the idea of an office refurbishment is the initial cost. To avoid this, you will have to demonstrate the benefits of the project, and the return on investment that they can expect.
Get Key Support
Office refurbishments can be time-consuming and complex to plan and manage. It’s highly unlikely you will be dealing with this alone. Most office refurbishments have an internal project manager (normally the office manager), the decision maker (normally the CEO), and then 3-5 influencers. Influencers are people who have input and an interest in the decision, but no direct authority. Common examples are executives and heads of departments. There can also be a lot of other people who want to add their input, but they are less important than decision makes and influencers.
All these people have differing (sometimes competing) concerns and priorities. If you prioritise the concerns of loud (but minor) influencers over the important decision makers, you risk derailing your project before it's even begun. By deciding who’s buy-in you need to make your project a success, you can make sure you are meeting their key objectives. It's also crucial that you stick to your key project objectives and not get sidetracked by distracting ideas from colleagues.
Company executives are busy people, so it’s unlikely that they set aside time regularly to assess their workspace. If you can show your manager there is a genuine opportunity to improve the business through an office refurbishment, they are far more likely to take action. It’s also important to think about the long term. The main reason many proposed office refurbishments don’t go ahead is that inaction is cheaper and easier than action – in the short term. By demonstrating the urgency of the project, your manager is more likely to prioritise it.
While there may be several very irritating things about your office, if you just complain to your manager, they are unlikely to do anything about it if you don’t take it any further. You are far more likely to get buy-in from executives if you show them what is wrong, suggestions for how to fix it, and how changes will improve business performance. These suggestions need to align with their concerns and priorities. This will show them you are serious about making this office refurbishment a success for your business.
Planning Your Office Refurbishment
When planning your office refurbishment, it's essential that you get buy-in from decision-makers early on. Otherwise, you are only wasting your time and energy. By clearly defining what is wrong with your office, and why it matters to the business, you are demonstrating the value of your office refurbishment to your business. Considering the concerns of your decision maker will show you have the business’s best interests in mind.
Getting key support, and prioritising the concerns of key departments will prevent the project from getting distracted from its initial purpose or suffering “death by committee”. Being proactive by considering how to improve your office, as well as what is wrong with it, will make it much easier for your manager to take action. Taking these steps will make it much easier for your manager to take action and support the project, which will be crucial to success.
Your office is one of your company’s biggest costs. Like every asset, it needs careful management and regular assessment to make sure it’s performing at its best for you and your people. In many cases, companies let workspace issues drag on because they are wary about the cost and disruption of an office refurbishment. However, paying attention to the warning signs will enable you to fix your office before it’s too late. To help you understand where your office might be falling short, we’ve put together a list of the top 8 signs you may need to consider an office refurbishment.
Ready to share your office refurbishment plans with us? We’d love to hear from you. 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.