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What makes a great commercial fit-out?

The emergence of hybrid working means that many companies are reconsidering how their offices are laid out. Whether you are opting for a 2-3 model, 50/50 or an even more flexible approach, having fewer people in the office means that you have an excellent opportunity to review how office space is used. Many businesses are therefore taking this opportunity to carry out a commercial fit-out.

But how should you begin doing a commercial fit-out? What does great interior design look like in the workplace? And how should you manage the project? Here are our tips for planning the best fit-out.

A group of colleagues planning their office's commercial fit-out.

Start by asking why you need a commercial fit-out

A commercial fit-out project is a major investment and can have a significant impact on how your colleagues work. Before you commission a designer or source contractors, you first need to consider why you are doing this project. The best fit-outs begin with a clear understanding of the problem you are trying to solve or a specific version of what you want to achieve. This could include things like:

  • Hybrid working means that your existing workspaces are no longer appropriate
  • Your business is growing, and you need more space
  • Your current office layout does not correspond with your brand’s identity
  • Many of your staff complain about the layout of the office. They may find it too cold, too noisy or certain teams may not have enough space
  • You’re a customer-facing space and you need to impress visitors

By identifying the specific reason (or reasons) you are considering a commercial fit-out, your final designs will more closely match your needs.

Analyse your existing office usage

The best fit-outs draw on analysis of your office and the way it currently functions. Before you even begin a commercial fit-out, spend time finding out how you really use your current office space.

It is your staff who spend the most time in the office, and so it is invaluable to send out a company-wide survey to learn about pain points employees are experiencing with your current office space. Do they have enough room? What are their views on interior design? Is the temperature, colour palette, lighting, noise levels or furniture conducive to work?

It is also worthwhile doing an objective analysis of how your office is currently being used. You may be able to do this yourself or contract a workplace consultant. The aim here is to get a true view of movement around the space. Do certain locations in the office receive lots of footfall? Is Meeting Room 2 almost never used? How much time do staff spend in the kitchen area each day? By gathering this information, you’ll get a clearer idea of what you need from the space.

Plan your commercial fit out with hybrid working in mind

Employees relaxing and working in a hybrid office space.

This may seem an obvious point, but it is essential to design your commercial fit out with hybrid working in mind. If more of your employees are working from home, you will have more space to play with. But this does not necessarily mean you should downsize. Not only does the extra space facilitate social distancing, this is also a great opportunity to reconfigure your floorplans.

It is likely, for instance, that your in-office staff will spend more time on video calls with colleagues who are working from home. You might therefore want to expand the size of your meeting rooms, invest in new technology for video calls and reorganise desks and tables in these spaces.

Think about experimenting with new office design trends

In recent years there has been growing recognition that the open-plan office layout has serious limitations – including noise, distraction, and a lack of privacy. The best fit-outs should experiment with some of the new trends in office design which may be more appropriate for 21st-century working styles. These include things like:

  • Movable desks on wheels so people can design their own office layout as required
  • Standing or walking desks that have health benefits
  • Comfortable breakout areas for creative collaboration
  • Small one-to-one meeting rooms
  • Technology for booking out desks or meeting areas
  • Employee facilities – such as yoga studios, childcare spaces, or mindfulness rooms

Great interior design for commercial fit-outs

A commercial fit-out is a fantastic opportunity to invest in great interior design. Here are just some of the things that you should consider:

  • Colour palette: Research shows that different colour palettes influence people’s mental state and can even contribute to levels of productivity, relaxation or even stress.
  • Brand image: How will your interior design represent your company’s personality and style?
  • Lighting: Great interior design will use modern lighting that can be adjusted by occupants of rooms or individual desks, so it is suited to their working style.
  • Noise management: A great interior designer will think about how noise travels through your office space and use clever techniques to reduce distractions caused by conversations, printers or air conditioning units.
  • Art: The artwork that you place on your company’s walls can have a big impact on the kind of atmosphere and energy you want to imbue the space with.
  • Furniture and fittings: An interior designer should be able to provide you with advice on different kinds of office furniture and fittings to create the kind of atmosphere you are envisioning – be that cool and creative or formal and focused.

 

Learn more: How to communicate with your interior architect

Manage the commercial fit-out project efficiently

If this is your company’s first commercial fit-out, there are several things to consider when managing the project. These include:

  • Creating a clear brief for the designer and the builders.
  • Working out contracts that are transparent and fair.
  • Setting aside a realistic budget.
  • Creating a realistic project timeline for the size of the space, the materials you need, and the number of contractors required.
  • Plans for how you will continue operating while the office is being refurbished.
  • Creating snag lists for your project so that you can verify that all fixtures and fittings have been installed correctly and as agreed.
  • A smooth handover process to ensure that all paperwork is signed and stored.
  • Detailed plans of the building layout so your office or facility manager can quickly find out information about wiring, HVAC, piping or any other important building information after the fit-out is complete.

 

Case study: How one interior fit-out firm uses tech to run its projects

A commercial fit-out brings so many benefits

There is no doubt that a commercial fit-out can be hugely beneficial to businesses – allowing you to refresh your company’s workspace, atmosphere and personality. And the best fit-outs will correspond closely with the needs of offices today – in particular the emergence of hybrid working.

By taking the above tips into account when planning your commercial fit-out, you can look forward to a smooth project and an office that truly meets your needs, delights employees and impresses visitors.

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