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5 tips for a successful office fitout

November 1, 2018

Planning, communication and setting a budget are among the essential ingredients for a successful office fitout. Photo: Horizon Photoworks

Planning, communication and setting a budget are among the essential ingredients to executing and managing a successful commercial office fitout.

Here are some tips to consider before you get started.

Start with a strong design team

A strong design team with a good project manager or architect is key, according to John Carleton, a chartered quantity surveyor and operations managing director of Linesight Australia & New Zealand.

He said this was where a budget could be set and agreed, with an architect creating a design to match.

“The design of commercial space is very important to keep your staff engaged and hold staff turnover. And keep your staff happy, and also keep your business profitable in the long term,” he said.

Get employees involved

CBRE NSW project management director Bernardette Chovan said in order for a new fitout to enhance employee experience, the project or fitout strategy must be well-planned and communicated from the senior team and project director from the very beginning so expectations were set.

For example, if the new fitout will result in new ways of working that needed to be communicated to employees at the outset, she said.

“Their (employee) participation in the journey is started at the beginning of the process. So by the time they get the fitout they love it because they have been involved,” she said.

Law firm Thynne and Macartney has celebrated 125 years by investing in a $2m fit out of their new Brisbane offices. Photo: Apollo Property Group Law firm Thynne and Macartney’s fitout of their new Brisbane offices. Photo: Apollo Property Group

Include trends that are popular now

Ms Chovan said faster and creative ways to communicate via teleconferencing were popular additions in new fitouts.

“State-of-the-art at the moment is connecting to people visually anywhere in the world. You can take them (clients or colleagues) on the journey as if they are in the room with you,” she said.

“It’s about speed and the fact you are able to get connected quickly or instantly really.”

Mr Carleton said to attract tenants many savvy landlords were spending money on:

  • creating modern end-of-trip facilities
  • lobbies and foyers with a ‘wow’ factor

“They are really activating their lobbies and foyers of the ground floor to engage people when they enter the space,” he said.

Incorporating office staircases was a popular trend, with many companies choosing to add stairs across several floors to promote connection and collaboration between staff, no matter what area of business they worked in, Ms Chovan said.

Creating a connection between staff led to happier people who all want to be at work, she said.

Mr Carleton said breakout office spaces were vital for worker collaboration, while informal areas were also extremely important for staff to relax and chat.

The Kernel workspace. Photo: Supplied Breakout areas are important in modern office fitouts, such as this one by Kernel Property in Sydney. Photo: Supplied

‘Future-proofing’ is the way to go

He said “future-proofing” was also important and advised tenants to consider their lease term.

“If you are taking 20,000 square metres and a 10-year lease, are the current requirements going to be correct in three, five or 10 years’ time?” he said. “Make sure you move with the times.

“Many tenants, when their lease comes to end try to renegotiate rather than go out and get a new lease because rents are extremely expensive at the moment.”

Get the best value for money

Ms Chovan said her top tips for gaining best value out of a new commercial fitout was to think about your business vision and how you can help your team achieve your outlook.

She recommended completing a validation of cost by prioritising what was the most important aspect of a fitout. For example, is the top priority a staircase for wellness with second on the list an IT upgrade?

Most of all, she said key to a good office fitout was employee experience.

“It’s always about the user and the experience and business productivity,” she said.

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