Q: We’ve decided to refurbish our existing office, and I’ve got loads of questions! Where should we start?

Answer: The first question to ask is what’s driving the need for change. Is it a lack of space, a tired environment, high staff turnover, or a desire to embrace modern working? Chances are there might not be just a single answer and it may very well be a combination of a few of these!

The second, equally important question is to ask your people what they think. In our experience, clients who’ve had the most success in their office refurb projects are those that prioritise people. This is the point where a workplace strategy can help to outline the parameters and highlight opportunities for change, and your selected office fit out partner should help you. The earlier you get them on board, the better the result!

Deciding to refurbish your office presents a wonderful opportunity to reinvent your environment and create a space that your staff love. Uninspiring offices can negatively impact morale, productivity and recruitment/retention, so to make sure your office works for you, you need to take a people-centric approach. This will create a space that isn’t just a place where people go to work, but a place they want to work.

Your company’s working style and culture is also a key consideration. If your people are on the move most of the day, they’ll treat your office as more of a touchdown space, so providing lots of flexible areas and breakout spaces is a good idea. On the other hand if your staff are desk-based, they’ll want alternative work settings that facilitate different tasks throughout the day. This is known as activity based working and is based around the theory of providing a space that supports your staff’s current task-at-hand.

Activity based working provides a variety of settings that aim to support different styles of working – collaboration, contemplation, creativity and community. The most critical aspects of activity based working are being able to move away from your desk without question or hassle. This means that your boss doesn’t expect to see you at your desk all the time and that you have the space, furniture and IT infrastructure to support this.

In conjunction with work styles and team proximities, the floorplate and structure will play a role in determining whether your space is best suited to an open plan or partly cellularised layout. Team proximities play a large role here, so you’ll want to think about which teams collaborate the most.

Ultimately, when refurbishing, companies must address the needs of employees and think about how changing the environment can inject new energy. If you do this, you’ll turn employees into powerful ambassadors – and that’s priceless!

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