Fit-out in occupation.

September 1, 2016    Tim Frankland     ,

Very few businesses have the luxury of relocating to an office that has already been fit-out to their specification without any disruption at all. Most find themselves working around the contractors while their existing space is refurbished.

So how do you manage an office interior design and fit-out project while you’re in occupation? What tips can minimise the disruption and how do you keep a motivated workforce throughout?

Here are ten tips to help answer those questions:

Before work begins your interior design partner should give you a schedule of works – identifying what will happen when and consequently, what disruption and movements you and your teams can expect as a result. Known as ‘swing space’, this refers to how you accommodate and move teams as the refurbishment continues. Remember to keep departments that work closely, together to maintain efficiency and ensure that everybody’s needs are met.

If your business is located in a multi-occupancy building take into account your neighbours – perhaps certain works should be completed outside of office hours or parking disruption would be better discussed up front. This approach also helps to generate goodwill that might allow you to use their facilities during certain parts of the build.

Think about your client experience. If you have suppliers and clients visiting on a regular basis think about how you can make the experience as welcoming as possible during the works. This might be ensuring that two meeting rooms are always in operation, offering tours or ‘sneak previews’ of the works or something as practical as putting cleaning protocols in place for client areas.

Make sure that your teams still have access to important facilities such as tea points and toiles throughout and certainly don’t forget about the importance of connectivity either – telephones and internet are vital. Work closely with your IT team to ensure minimal disruption and plan what’s required to make the refurbishment as easy as possible.

Think about what materials or files you can put in storage to free up space – the contractors needs space to work and your teams do too. If things can be off-site for a short period (without causing disruption) then it’s worth considering. You can also use this as an important opportunity to declutter your space before the new-look office is unveiled. Put someone in charge of managing the process and organise crates for employees to start packing items up. This will also make the temporary relocation of departments much easier to manage.

Liberate staff – if certain aspects of the contractor’s work have to be done during working hours and disruption is unavoidable, make sure your employees have the tools and resource they need to work remotely.

Work hard to involve your employees from the outset. This might involve requesting their feedback on initial design concepts or simply keeping them up to date with the progress of the build. For larger sites this could include periodic site tours. This will help to maintain goodwill during a period of change and build excitement.

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