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Pros and Cons of Phased Office Refurbishment

Updated: Apr 10

Occupied Office Refurbishment

An office refurbishment can be a big project. Often, churn works and light touch refurbishments can be completed outside of working hours. This causes little disruption to your staff.


However, when you need to carry out a more comprehensive refurbishment, what will you do with your staff? How will you keep your business running during the project? While asking your staff to work from home for a few weeks might seem easy, it can create a lot of challenges. These can lead to serious problems and make your project even more complicated.


But what if there was a better way? A way of keeping all your staff in the office while the project is going on. Would that be the dream solution?


With a phased project programme, this is possible. Your design & build company refurbish one part of your office, while your staff operate as normal in the rest of the space. Once that part is complete, another area is refurbished, and so on until your entire office is refurbished.


There are both advantages and disadvantages to this approach, and it’s not the best option for every company or project.  In this article, we will run through those benefits and drawbacks. By the end, you'll be able to decide if this is an option for you.


Pros of Occupied Office Refurbishment


The crucial advantage that a phased office refurbishment provides is continuity. For many companies, working from home is not possible or practical.  If you have specialist equipment that is shared by different people, or equipment that is not suitable for domestic environments, then you will need to keep your people in the same place.


Many companies have complex IT requirements. For example, having an entire team of traders working from home for a short period would be extremely expensive. It would also be impractical, as domestic power supplies are not sufficient for their needs. 


Administration and Logistics

Reduced administration workload is another advantage of keeping your staff in the office. Relocating tens or hundreds of staff and their personal effects, as well as any specialist equipment to a completely new location is a lot of work. It can also get very expensive. By keeping all your people and equipment in the same space, you reduce a lot of that workload, making your life much simpler.


Cons of Occupied Office Refurbishment


Office refurbishments are complex projects. Splitting them into 2 or 3 parts is going to make them even more complex. Most occupied office refurbishments also include out-of-hours (OOH) works. Especially noisy and disruptive tasks are carried out early in the morning or at weekends. As these works have to be completed in small parts around normal working hours, they take longer and are more complex to manage.

While not directly related to the work, increased staff density can also make your office refurbishment more complex. If you are trying to fit your staff into half the space they are used to, you will have to consider the compliance implications around fire safety, staff density, and air quality. Making sure all your people have access to the space and facilities they need to work effectively is also essential.


Increased Works Costs

Another disadvantage of phased office refurbishments is the increased costs. A major part of this is the increased labour costs. As a result of phasing, contractors have to move on and off-site multiple times during the works, increasing their costs. Working in an occupied office is also slower because contractors have to take care to be as quiet as possible.

Out-of-hours labour is around 50% more expensive than in hours, depending on whether it is carried out in the mornings, evenings, or at weekends. It also tends to take longer to complete, because the equipment has to be dismantled and set up each time, rather than left ready for the next day.

The complexity also causes a rise in project management costs. As the works are effectively split into 2 or 3 parts, this requires a lot more project management. Out-of-hours work also requires more management.


Is Occupied Office Refurbishment Right For You?

Ultimately, the most important thing to consider is what will keep your staff and company performing as well as possible. If you have a long project that cannot be phased, then a temporary relocation will be best. If your project will last less than a month and your staff don’t need access to specialist equipment, then working from home may be an option.

If, on the other hand, your staff need access to equipment that isn’t practical to move, or they need to be in the same space frequently, then a phased office refurbishment might work for you. It's your decision, and it ultimately comes down to your constraints and priorities.


Deciding whether to phase your project is only one decision of hundreds you have to make when preparing to refurbish your office. For help with many of those other decisions, download How to Plan an Office Refurbishment. It's a 7-step guide that takes you from creating your brief right through to signing the contract! Get your refurbishment guide here.



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