Choose your champion

Although it's a daunting task for one individual, having a single champion for the refurbishment is the best way to ensure things stay on track and don't suffer from "too many cooks" syndrome.

  • Who has what it takes to keep all the necessary balls in the air?

    • Senior enough to make decisions
    • Experienced at multitasking
    • Skilled motivator
    • Knows your business inside-out
    • Great communicator
    • Highly organised
    • Good at sticking to a budget

Know who to involve and when

There are certain people who should be involved in the decision-making process. Make sure you know who to talk to when the decisions need to be made.

  • Managing Director

    Your Managing Director holds the ultimate say-so over the approval of designs and costs. But whilst you need to be wary of approving anything he or she hasn't seen, they won't appreciate being informed about every little detail

  • Financial Director

    As the person who sets the budget, your Financial Director has a lot of influence.

  • Facilities Director

    Your Facilities Director knows the ins and outs of your building, and will already have built up a relationship with your landlord. Make sure he or she is involved in any negotiations that affect your lease.

  • Office Manager

    The Office Manager hears the gripes and grumbles of staff on a day-to-day basis. They'll have valuable input as to where changes need to be made.

  • IT Director

    If you're intending to make changes to your IT infrastructure, then you'll need to have your IT Director on side. He or she will be able to help identify what needs upgrading, replacing or keeping, and where to find the best deals.

  • Operations Director

    Your Operations Director is going to want reassurance that business won't be disrupted during the refurbishment works. Keep him or her in the loop so any issues can be managed before they impact your business.

  • Marketing

    It's the job of your Marketing department to ensure that your company projects the right image, and they'll no doubt have input into how branding can be incorporated into the new design.

  • Human Resources

    The basic aim of your HR department is to ensure the wellbeing of everybody affected by the refurbishment. Make sure they know that consideration of staff welfare is top of your list.

  • PAs

    The PAs and administration staff probably know more about what's going on in your business than anybody else. Don't leave this valuable resource untapped.

Engage and communicate with your stakeholders

In some instances, involving your staff is the law. The Information & Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004 state that any changes directly affecting staff should be discussed with them.

And at the same time, it's just good manners to make sure that everybody is kept informed.

  • Have you identified your stakeholders?

    • Unions
    • Regulators
    • Parent Company
    • Board members
    • Department heads
    • Staff

Think of innovative ways to get everybody involved and create buy-in for the move

  • Use technology to your advantage

    • An online forum or Extranet is a great way of letting your stakeholders voice their opinions, and provides an ideal place to host files and plans
    • Hold workshops to present design ideas to staff and get their feedback
  • Make the most of having your site on your doorstep

    • Take key stakeholders and staff on regular site visits
    • Create a newsletter for staff, to keep them up-to-date with refurbishment progress and inform them of key dates

Talk to your landlord

Any changes you make to the property are going to need the consent and buy-in of your landlord. Involve your landlord early on so he or she is fully aware of what the works will entail.

  • Obtain a License to Alter

    Make sure your landlord understands exactly what changes you're planning to make so that a detailed License to Alter can be drawn up. A commercial property agent or your appointed design & refurbishment partner can help you translate this legal document to ensure every element is covered.

  • Renegotiate lease terms

    Your landlord views your office as an investment. Therefore it's likely that he or she will look favourably on any alterations you want to make that will add value. Use this to your advantage in renegotiating your lease terms or extending your lease.

  • Ask about landlord contributions

    Often the landlord will contribute to your refurbishment costs as an incentive for you to stay in your current space.

  • Review dilapidations clauses

    If you're making considerable changes to the infrastructure of the space (installing cellular offices, removing walls), renegotiate the Dilapidations clauses in the terms of your lease to ensure that your business does not incur massive costs later on.

Refurbishment tip

Ask your landlord if there are any major changes or upgrades planned to the building that might affect the works you're planning to do.

Choose a reputable office design & refurbishment company

The biggest expense in your project will be the design and actual refurbishment. Therefore make sure to engage with a reputable office design and refurbishment consultancy during the early stages, as their advice will be invaluable.

A good office refurbishment partner will be able to help you identify your needs by carrying out surveys, space audits and feasibility studies. So if storage has always been an issue, they'll have the experience to tell you how to make the best out of your existing space. They can also come up with cost estimates and help you visualise your new space, so there are no nasty surprises later on.

Finally, ensure you hire a partner that offers a full 'turnkey' solution to save you time, money and the hassle of managing multiple contractors.

Ask the following questions to determine if your partner provides the best level of service:

  • Do they offer:

    • Project management of your whole project, via one point of contact?
    • Space audits and feasibility studies to calculate your space needs?
    • Full cost estimates?
    • Space planning?
    • Interior design?
    • Fit out and construction?
    • Furniture selection and procurement?
    • Mechanical & electrical design and installation?
    • Air conditioning, heating and ventilation?
    • Plumbing?
    • Planning permission and landlord negotiations?
    • Health & safety?
    • IT and telephony cabling, moving & installation?
  • Do they have knowledge of the Disabilities Discrimination Act to ensure your office will comply?

  • Can they help you define your requirements and put together your brief?

  • Do they have experience of refurbishment in occupation, including:

    • Allocation of decant or 'swing' space while works are taking place?
    • Advice on what can be put into storage during works?
    • Disassembly and assembly of furniture?
  • Are they willing to provide quality references of previous refurbishments? And will they arrange for you to visit other offices they've done?

  • Do they work to a fixed budget?

  • Do they offer good value for money?

  • Will they guarantee on-time completion?

  • Are they financially stable?

  • Do they have the backing of a parent company or the purchasing power / partnerships to negotiate special deals?

  • Do they have their own health, safety and wellbeing experts?

  • Are they environmentally conscious? Can they design and build a sustainable office for you?

  • Do they have the necessary insurance cover in place (with evidence)?

  • Does their team inspire your confidence and trust?

Refurbishment tip

Many small office design and build firms will fund the project through your deposit, so check the total cost as a % of their annual turnover. Too high, and your refurbishment could be at risk, leaving you with a building site for an office.

Beware of on-the-clock H&S

Health & safety is a huge issue when doing a refurbishment in occupation. If someone gets hurt, one of your staff or even an employee of the contractor, your directors are liable. Choose a design and build company that has their health & safety team in house. Otherwise, they'll have to subcontract H&S and the safety of your site will be 'on the clock'.

  1. For more information please see our checklist Choosing the right office design and fit out partner.

  2. For more information please see our Financial Stability Checklist.