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8 Steps to Get Buy-in for Your Office Fit Out

Generating Alignment for Office Fit Out

Contrary to popular belief, an office fit out project is not purely about designing and then building your dream office. An office fit out project is primarily about people. This includes the executives that approve it, the team that manages it, and the staff that benefit from it.

An office fit out requires a lot of money to be invested, change to be implemented, and time to be spent. Without buy-in from your stakeholders, your project will fail. You won't get enough (or any) budget from executives, staff will resist the change, and you will have to navigate a lot of conflict, risk, and stress.

That's why, for your fit out to be a true success and deliver tangible value for your company, everyone in your organisation - from the CEO to the junior staff - need to be fully brought-in and committed to the success of your office fit out.

We've been helping companies define, design, and deliver workspaces their people love for over 15 years. In this article, we'll share 8 key steps you can take to get buy-in for your office fit out. By the end, you'll know how to plan and manage your project to ensure you have complete buy-in, leading to a more successful project.


1) Understand Needs & Concerns

The first step toward getting buy-in for your office fit out is to identify the needs, concerns, and expectations of both management and staff for your project. Different departments and seniorities will have different priorities, so it's important to understand them all.

Understanding the needs and concerns of your different stakeholders will give you key insights. As a result, you can ensure your office fit out is delivering value for your company. Addressing these needs and concerns up front will also build trust and demonstrate that their opinions are valued.

To understand the needs and concerns of management and staff for your project, there are a variety of channels you can use. The most common include online staff surveys, leadership meetings, and informal conversations. Exploring and documenting the concerns, priorities, constraints and objectives raised will give you a solid understanding of the needs of all your people.


2) Develop Workspace Strategy

A workspace strategy ensures that your office fit out is aligned with your company's overall workspace strategy, culture, and processes. In fact, it's much more than a high-level plan for your next project. It’s an overall vision and framework for your workspaces over the next 3-10 years.

This matters because a clear strategy helps to align everyone’s expectations and provides a common goal. It ensures your project plan is aligned with your business direction. As a result, your business case will be a lot stronger. You're much more likely to get approval.

In your own project, take the time to create (or review) your workspace strategy. There are 7 key elements of a good workspace strategy: working model, location & size, layout & environments, aesthetic design, technology, culture, and cost. To learn more about each and how to create your own, read this article.


3) Prepare Your Business Case

Undeniably, an office fit out is a big cost. However, it's more than just a cost - it's an investment. It's unlikely that your company will have budgeted for your project - especially if you're moving or taking on more space. This means you'll need to get signoff.

A good business case is crucial because without it, your office fit out plan is unlikely to get approval from your company's executives. No matter how much they like the plan, if it's not commercially viable, they won't approve the budget required.

To build your own business case, go back to the needs and concerns of your key stakeholders. Build your business case around those and your workspace strategy. This business case should include cost-benefit analysis, ROI calculations, and any competitive advantages. To learn more about this, read What is the ROI  of Office Fit Out?


4) Engage Key Stakeholders

For such an important project, there will be many different stakeholders, both internal and external. However, some are more important than others. A key step is to identify and involve key stakeholders and decision-makers from the outset of your project.

These individuals dictate the success of your project, so you need to identify who they are as early as possible. You can then work with and prioritise them. These people can help sway the opinion of other stakeholders both positively and negatively, so you need to manage these relationships effectively.

Generally, one person (eg, your CEO) will make the final decision. Other key influencers come from departments such as finance, HR, and Administration. Identify who these key players in your company are, and then you can schedule one-on-one meetings to discuss the project, listen to their concerns, and incorporate their feedback into the process. It's also important to keep them on board throughout the project.


5) Effective Communication

One of the most important parts of getting buy-in for your office fit out is communication. This is equally true for all stakeholders, regardless of their role. To get buy-in, you need to maintain open lines of communication throughout the planning and implementation phases.

Regular updates will keep all stakeholders informed about what they need to know. This will reduce uncertainty and resistance, and help build confidence in the project. As a result, people will be more supportive, and you'll spend less time solving problems.

What effective communication looks like is different for every project. A crucial step is building a RACI matrix to identify who needs to know what. Channels could include email updates, staff webinars, and in-person meetings.


6) Showcase Staff Benefits

One of the most important parts of a successful office fit out is a good user experience for your staff. However, staff may be wary of the change, so it's important to showcase the benefits of the project for them. You can do this by showing them how the changes will improve their wellbeing, job satisfaction, and performance.

Staff buy-in is crucial because they are the people who will be using the new office every day. If you don’t have staff buy-in, you'll get a lot of resistance. Staff will be looking for issues, rather than ways to make the project successful. As a result, the potential benefits of your project won't be realised.

To get your staff on side, you could share examples of similar successful projects, either at other locations of your company, or other projects your fit out company has completed. Sharing the design concept and visuals will also help their understanding. To learn more, read 6 Steps to Successful Change Management in Office Fit Out.


7) Address Resistance

Given that your office fit out involves so much cost, time, and change, there will likely be resistance from some stakeholders. Trying to ignore it will only make it worse. To effectively manage resistance, proactively identify potential sources of resistance, and then manage them.

Dealing with resistance effectively will minimise one of the key risks that could derail your fit out. Tackling objections head-on prevents them from escalating and helps to find acceptable solutions.

To address resistance in your project, Host Q&A sessions, provide a platform for anonymous feedback, and be ready with answers and compromises to common concerns. Take their concerns seriously, but you do need to remain focussed on your project objectives, and not get derailed by many conflicting opinions.


8) Collect and Act on Feedback

The final step you need to take to ensure buy-in for your fit out project is to collect and act on feedback. You need to keep the lines of communication open between both staff and management. This is equally important before, during, and after your project.

Inevitably, things will change throughout your project, and you need to share this and respond to stakeholder's needs. Listening to the viewpoints of staff will make them more likely to support the change, even if their specific feedback wasn't implemented.

To ensure you collect and act on feedback throughout your project, ensure people know how to contact you, and make yourself available for conversation. You should also proactively solicit feedback throughout the project - especially from key stakeholders.


Getting Buy-in for Your Office Project

A successful office fit out can provide significant value to your company and people, from improved productivity and talent attraction & retention to better wellbeing and job satisfaction. However, if your stakeholders don’t know about, understand, and support your proejct and its benefits, you'll miss out on them, leading to the failure or even cancellation of your fit out.

Good project planning and workspace strategy will give your projects a solid foundation, enabling staff and executives to get on board. A good business case and effective stakeholder management will ensure your project gets approval, support, and enough budget. Showcasing the benefits to your people will ensure they buy into the change because they understand what's in it for them. Good communication, addressing resistance, and responding to feedback will ensure you respond to the changing needs of stakeholders and keep everyone bought in.

By bringing all these steps together, you'll get and keep everyone aligned and engaged with the success of your project. As a result, you'll be setting your project - and company - up for long-term success.

To learn more about planning your project and managing stakeholders, check out your Ultimate Workspace Consultancy Guide. There, you'll find out all you need to know about workspace consultancy and why it matters. To learn more about managing people through your office design and build projects, read 6 steps to successful change management in office fit out.


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