Should I Refurbish My Office or Not?
Does your office look tired and outdated? Is your company recruiting more staff, but you don’t have any more space in your office? If either of these challenges sounds familiar, you may be thinking about refurbishing your office.
However, deciding whether to refurbish your office or not isn't always a straightforward decision. Office refurbishments can be expensive, time-consuming projects. The return isn’t always worth the investment. Considering this, you might be unsure if you need an office refurbishment or not.
When speaking to clients about their office refurbishments, we find there are 3 main reasons they decide to go ahead with an office renovation:
- The design is outdated
- Their space isn’t used efficiently
- Their office is the wrong size
We also find there are 3 broad reasons why companies don’t go ahead with a refurbishment:
- The cost is too high
- The design doesn’t fix the problem
- External circumstances
In this article, we’ll discuss each of these reasons, and how they might apply to you. We’ll also include examples to make it more relevant. By the time you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll be in a better position to decide if you need an office refurbishment or not.
Reasons to Refurbish Your Office
While you may be aware that your office is no longer as good as it used to be, it can sometimes be hard to define exactly what is wrong with it. It’s important that you define why you are carrying out the project. This will determine whether it’s worth doing the project at all, and help you keep focussed on fixing that throughout the project.
Over the last few years, many companies have avoided capital projects such as office refurbishments. As a result, many offices are outdated. Over time, brands and cultures evolve. While your office may have perfectly represented your brand 5 or 10 years ago, since then it may have become outdated. This will decrease the wellbeing and motivation of your staff, leading to a drop in productivity.
Office refurbishments can be a cost-effective way to re-energise your office. It can also be a good chance to introduce more natural light and biophilia throughout the space, both of which contribute to employee wellbeing and productivity.
At Music Theatre International, we carried out a full office refurbishment that completely transformed their workspace. The design was inspired by theatre throughout the last 100 years and some of the shows that they have been involved in, from Les Misérables to Mamma Mia. With a wide variety of working environments and a focus on ergonomics, space delivered a premium user experience.
Poor Space Utilisation
A common reason companies decide to refurbish their office is that they don’t have the right types of spaces in their offices to suit the way they work. The rise of hybrid working has caused a shift in the ways companies use their offices. The office is now used as a hub for collaboration, rather than the only place to work. In 2019, collaboration spaces took up an average of 10% of the office. In 2023, it is between 35% and 45%.
If your office no longer suits the way your staff work, your people will be far less productive than they could be. If your space has some areas empty while others are crowded, it’s definitely time to consider a refurbishment.
When designing Red Consultancy’s office refurbishment, we removed most walls to make the office more space efficient. We also created a large breakout area as the centerpiece of the design, with several other collaboration areas throughout the space.
Wrong Size Space
Just because your office is crowded, you don’t necessarily need to relocate. The average office design has inefficiencies of 30-40%. By creating a more efficient office design, you could fit more people into your space, saving the complexity and cost of moving office.
On the other hand, hybrid working has enabled many companies to reduce the amount of space you need. We recently carried out an extensive refurbishment of MI|GSO – PCUBED’s London office, enabling them to reduce their space requirements by 25%. They then turned this into a 2,500 sq/ft sublet space to rent out to other companies. This not only reduced their expenses but generated additional revenue.
Reasons Not to Refurbish Your Office
While office refurbishments may have many benefits, there are inevitably reasons why a renovation may not be right for you. It’s important that you weigh up the pros and cons to arrive at a decision that will be best for the long-term success of your business.
The biggest drawback of office refurbishments is the cost. Office renovations are very labour and material-intensive, as well as complex, so they can become very expensive. There are 6 key factors that will control the cost of your office renovation: scope, size, state, specification, services, and setting. Most mid-touch refurbishments will range from £20 to £100 per sq/ft, excluding furniture. To understand more about what affects the cost of your refurbishment, read our article, How Much Will it Cost to Refurbish my Office?
Cost is not only a monetary consideration – you also need to think about the time and disruption costs created by your project. During the project planning phase, you will need to spend 3-8 hours working with your design & build firm to guide and feedback on their designs. Depending on the size of your project, your refurbishment could take anything from 2-12 weeks, or even more for projects over 10,00 sq/ft. During this time, your people will not be able to use their office as usual, though the works may be able to be phased.
Another reason companies decide not to refurbish their office is that the proposed design doesn’t fix the key issues. Often, this is a result of poor project planning. If you need to improve space utilisation so that you can employ more staff, then adding private offices for executives will only make the problem worse. If you do go ahead with a design package that doesn’t fix the fundamental flaws of your existing office, then your project will be guaranteed to fail.
It is also essential that you take external circumstances into account. If you are planning to finance your refurbishment using debt, an increase in interest rates would change the ROI of your project. If there is likely to be a recession, you will need to consider how this will impact your business and workspace strategy. Another important external circumstance is seasonality. If your company is highly seasonal and you are approaching a busy period, now may not be a good time to do an office refurbishment.
Making Your Decision
Deciding whether or not to refurbish your office is a major decision. In some cases, the answer is obvious. In other cases, however, the benefits and drawbacks are a lot more balanced, and the decision is tougher.
Now you know about the most common reasons companies do and don’t refurbish their office, it's time to make your own decision. To make the right decision for you, it’s crucial to plan carefully and define exactly what problem(s) your renovation needs to address. You will also need to define key limits, especially in terms of time and cost. You can then decide whether or not to refurbish your office based on this. Throughout, it’s crucial to focus on what is best for your company and your staff in the long term, rather than being swayed by short-term considerations or biased opinions.
If you’ve decided that you do need to refurbish your office, the next step is to create a comprehensive project plan. This guide will help you do just that. It’s a 7-step guide that will help you understand and plan your office refurbishment, from defining the motivation to signing the contract. Download your copy here.
If you’re still not sure whether or not you should refurbish your office, read 8 signs you need to refurbish your office. You’ll learn about 8 key indicators that you may need an office refurbishment, and how to recognise them.