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The Office Fit-Out Checklist

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To be more effective and successful, sometimes our environment has to change. Our immediate environment can trigger many different reactions in us – it can make us happier, it can make us work faster, etc. Changes in workplaces, indeed, has optimization benefits that we may be unaware of, it could be just the catalyst every organization needs to effect changes in one’s outlook.

But an office fit-out project can be an arduous job. Whether a renovation or fitting out a new one, the job can prove to be overwhelming (and expensive!) especially if you don’t plan and execute systematically.

If you’re seriously considering an office revamp, you may refer to the checklist below to guide you through handling the whole fit-out project management process.

1. Start with a Brief

Before you proceed with anything else start with understanding the rationale of your fit-out project. Why was it conceived in the first place? Start by finding the reasons why are you doing it in the first place. Is it because your lease is expiring soon? Is it an expansion, a merger, or an acquisition? It could be anything. It could be that you’re moving because you want to be closer to your clients, or you want to redesign working practices. The thing is, if the reason for the project brief is clear, you can be more decisive and effective in pursuing a direction with your project.

2. Select the Team

In building a space or handling fit-out projects, efficiency is key. You have to be able to do numerous tasks simultaneously and that means having to delegate tasks to different people in your organization. Begin by setting up a team that will focus solely on the fit-out project.

a. Project coordinator – Managing the project yourself will take much of your time away from your other business functions. It will add another responsibility to you and you might miss out on important details that keep the business running. That is why having a ‘fit-out champion’ will be very ideal and helpful. The project coordinator or ‘fit-out champion’ can report to you details, timeline, suppliers, to-dos, and progress reports. Just the details that need your decision so the project can move forward.

b. In-house team – You might also want to consider building a team that is composed of representatives from different departments – HR, Finance, IT and Communications, Marketing, Legal, etc. Inputs from every department and function are valued so that the needs of each department will be accounted for in the design. Any operations and design issues from your previous office must be noted so that you can apply improvements in your project.

c. Contractor – While your team is already composed of department experts, a building expert is also a requirement. Contractors have a curated and accredited list of suppliers and subcontractors who can help put your visions to life seamlessly. Contractors can also help you stick and work around your budget.

d. Facilities management – You may also need the help of facility management and building managers especially if your office is located in a high-rise building where your project can obstruct tenants, working hours, and work productivity of other businesses. Facilities management help secure documents, permits, and appropriate building work schedule, as well as, help the accredited suppliers such as suppliers of coffee, printing machines, etc.

3. Set an Objective

Now that you know which direction you’re headed from the brief and have a team to work with, you can now start writing out your main objectives for this project. This objective will be your success metrics after the project is done. Objectives will be as simplistic as being able to have accommodation for 100 employees (and that means having enough tables and chairs), having 5 executive rooms for company executives, including 4 meeting rooms, 2 pantry areas, a receiving area or lobby, and the likes. Such objectives will help the designer and contractors in creating the most fitting office space design.

4. Conduct an Audit

Conducting an audit means tracking and keeping tabs on the company or organization’s existing assets and processes. This process can bring your attention to the things that are working and things that no longer work for your company.

a. Space Occupancy Study – You can begin this by leading a Space Occupancy Study or SOS. SOS lets you gather physical raw data and lets you analyze levels of workplace utilization. This will help you further improve your design objectives.

b. Staff survey – Staff input is also important so you don’t miss any relevant detail. Oftentimes, we have colleagues whose perspectives are crucial to business, health and safety yet aren’t too vocal or persistent to get them across the management. This is the time where we encourage them to share their unique experiences and have the chance to delight them by actually having their sentiments heard and resolved.

c. Storage audit – It is advised for every company to conduct an on-site assessment to keep tabs of equipment and assets to shine a light on how much storage space should be allocated in the design. It is also an opportunity to keep count of the physical assets that you can re-use on your fit-out (which means lesser expense!), and what should be replaced already.

5. Prepare a Budget

Always stick to a budget. While office fit-out is important in employee welfare, you don’t want to end up cutting other budget allocation for skyrocketing construction expenses. You also don’t want to be halting your project or compromising construction integrity by setting the budget too low. You have to be precise and careful about your budgeting approach. Make sure you factor in the occupancy rates, repairs and maintenance, equipment, migration fees, and soft costs such as travel expenses.

You must ensure every expense is accounted for in your budget including floor coverings, carpet, partitions, furniture, and even parking fees. You may also set-up a contingency allowance in your budget should there be any unforeseen factor that may affect your project continuity.

6. Design

Design is like the main ingredient in your office fit-out. The audit results will be the foundation of the design plan. Of course, the design isn’t just the way the office will look, it is why employees and stakeholders can be more productive in the workplace. While designers can do with designing, you should be keen on the following:

a. Block plans – Block plans showing how your space could be allocated to get the best from your resources. Lay down the result of your space occupation study and tell which office spaces you want to highlight or emphasize. You might also want to suggest a more spacious pantry area or extra open spaces accommodate more of your employees.

b. Mood boards – If you have an idea in mind or a brand-specific design guideline, you might as well brief your designer at the early stage of ideation. You may show mood boards that show the themes and colors you want to see in the office. You may also want to discuss the feel and personality you want to induce and mention your preferred materials such as fabrics and finishes.

c. Sustainability – Sustainability has become a trend in construction. Sustainability has become strategic importance when it comes to the long-term saving of a company. For example, the use of more natural light can help you save in long-term energy expenses. You may inquire from your designer regarding how well you can apply sustainability technology in your office fit-out.

While you can make suggestions and be keen on these design details, it’s still highly suggested that you be open to suggestions and new ideas from your designer. They are experts in this field and they can help you a lot in creating a workplace that you and your employees will love.

7. Health and Safety

Last but not the least, make sure your design and project put health and safety at its core. A beautiful and budget-friendly office space might be the goal but the health and safety of the employees, contractors, and visitors is a priority. Make sure you have secured permits and documentation, following building and construction protocols, and operating legally.

If you still need extra guidance, you may contact SDW Realty to help you go through the process. SDW is a construction company in Manila that has experience in design, build and development services for all project sizes. For cost estimation and more information about our services, you may send us your requirements at info@sdwrealty.com. To explore our services, click here.

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