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40 (135) 2019
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Real Estate & Construction

Office Renovation – Risks and Traps

By Grzegorz Chęciak, senior business development manager, Transformation
Header transformation

 

As the saying goes, fine feathers make fine birds. This applies not only to the image of a person, but also of a company.

It goes without saying that the location and decoration of the office has an influence on how our business is perceived. Clients have their own – not necessarily conscious – expectations, and feel better when we receive them in an interior compatible with the nature of our business.  If we are able to meet those expectations, we increase our chances for successful negotiations.

Office interior design has even a greater importance for the employees. They spend many hours at work, hence the quality of the office space has a major impact on their mood and feelings about the employer – and thus on the pace and efficiency of work.  It is no secret that the place and conditions of work play a major role during the recruitment process and thereafter.

To put it simply, an aesthetically pleasing and comfortable office directly translates into the company’s performance. Most employers are aware of that.  They are afraid, however, to make an effort of modernisation of their headquarters, aware that seeing it through poses a major challenge and takes knowledge of the available solutions for HVAC, power supply, telecommunications, BMS, SAP, access control and many more.

Even the best Office Manager does not possess necessary interdisciplinary skills to supervise the processes of interior design and space use optimisation with similar effectiveness, ensure the safety and performance of the materials and technologies used, prepare a timetable to time the tasks of all contractors and predict the final budget to finance the project.

The Office Manager may more or less precisely define the company’s needs as regards the new office interior design, set the available budget and the time frame for the implementation of changes. Translating these expectations into practical solutions, however, may turn out to be a difficult and high-risk task.

One of the common traps is the compatibility of the technical solutions used in the office with the capacity of the building’s systems (automation, water supply, access control, HVAC) – one can install the state-of-the-art and very costly solutions only to find that they do not reach their full potential, being incompatible with the limitations of the infrastructure of the entire office building. Mistakes are frequently made in the process of distribution of the employees across the office. One of the common mistakes is too high employment density. This matter is governed by the OHS regulations, which stipulate a minimum of 13 m3 and 2 square metres of free floorspace not occupied by technical devices, equipment etc. If only one person works in a room, the floorspace must be at least 6 square metres. Any error at this stage may cost us dearly. Demolition or relocation of walls after the office renovation was finished is the nightmare of many Office Managers. Such a reconstruction involves changes to the lighting, power supply or heating. Seemingly cosmetic improvements, such as moving a wall by a couple of centimetres, may result in enormous costs or even be infeasible.

Another challenge is the acoustics. There is a trend nowadays towards increasing the cubic volume of offices by choosing not to install suspended ceilings in order to achieve the impression of spaciousness. Buy what happens to the sounds of chatter or office equipment and AC? And what about employees’ chatter or telephone conversations? How many sound-absorbing panels and by which manufacturer should be used for comfortable working conditions? These questions can only be answered by an experienced Project Manager of a fit-out company. Tens of thousands of metres of delivered workspace allow it to provide expert advice and make a conscious decision for the best results.

We must not forget that our office space is an integral part of a complex organisation – the building. It has its strengths, as well as limitations in the access to utilities, hot and cold cool air or a sewage system. Any changes must be compatible with that complex organisation. This takes engineering and technical know-how, and necessitates consultation with the administrator of the building.  This is the task for a reliable fit-out service provider. It is responsible for obtaining necessary documents and arrangements or even building permits in certain cases where our renovation significantly interferes with the building structure.

It is therefore advisable to use the services of a recognised fit-out company with an interdisciplinary team of experts and extensive experience in comprehensive office interior design projects. The consultant will be able to assess the condition of our premises and offer advice on the optimisation of use of the office space, the acoustic parameters of the premises, the quality of the ventilation and heating systems, and the reduction of future operations costs. The consultant will also ensure the compatibility of the technologies used with the fire safety requirements and the capacity of the building systems.

The strength of such companies is comprehensive service. They guide the customer through the complex modernisation process – from the design through the final result of an aesthetically appealing and functional office. They work with proven suppliers to guarantee the quality and timely delivery of work. A good fit-out company is able to not only make the strenuous undertaking of renovation easier for the customer, but also to reduce the risk and capital costs.

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