How to manage an office renovation project? A step by step guide

If you think finding a new office space is the hard part, then you are in for a surprise. We aren’t saying that searching for an office isn’t hard, but it’s not the same kind of hassle as office renovation. Any renovation is a time consuming and meticulous process. However, in this article, we’ll provide you with all the information you require to make the journey of your renovation project go smooth and as easy as possible.

Office renovation project timeline

A typical renovation timeline can take from three to four months from office design plans to the actual fitout. The schedule and tasks vary from company to company.

However usually we advise to expect for more time if:

  • You are in a busy business hub
  • You have more complicated IT requirements.
  • You have more stakeholders in your company.
  • You are doing a rebranding exercise.
  • Your stakeholders are based overseas, particularly in different time zone.
  • Your security requirements are complex.
  • Your fitout time is overlapping with festive seasons such as New Year, Summer Break or Christmas.
  • You want more time to consider different design proposals, which is not an easy task.
  • You did not hire specialised professionals. Which by the way is not a good idea.

Set clear goals for office renovation

The first thing to pass through the process of an office renovation is to set clear goals prior to contracting with a designer and builder. Most delays and variation in the cost of your project occur because of designs differ from the predetermined proposal, which becomes worse at the final construction stages. It is difficult to make variations in the office design when construction is close to finish. So, it is better to take some extra time at the beginning to clearly define goals. It will benefit the project budget in the long run.

Some Essential Office Renovation Goals

For New Corporate Rebranding The new office design must be expressive and represent the values and mission of new corporate branding. This design can be for new business or to be incorporated in rebranding efforts for workspace design.

1. For relocation of office

The Renovation of the current office of the workplace must be completed within a short time to be returned or reinstated to the landlord.

2. To meet latest trends

Your office’s first impression matters. If the office has not been renovated for a long time, you must consider doing it now. A renovation can give a new look to your office according to the latest trends. According to a study published in Forbes, an overwhelming 87% of workers would like their current employer to offer better workspace benefits ranging from wellness rooms, standing desks and healthy lunch options.

3. To increase innovation and collaboration

Another purpose for office renovation can be to enhance team collaborations. If the current office has more cabin structure, you may want to remove these barriers to provide an open office layout where your team can work together more closely.

Canva, voted as Australia’s best place to work in 2017 and 2018. Is exactly doing that. Their office, located in Surry Hills in Sydney comes with a large room where they provide free lunch for their employees. According to Co-founder Mel Perkins having lunch together creates a family feel and allows for non-work related communication between employees. It has become an integral part of their culture, and obviously, the office design caters perfectly for it.

4. To create better work experience

As employees have gotten used to working remotely, they’ll have a different perspective on the way they’d like to work. According to a poll we conducted via LinkedIn, 54% of employees indicated they will work at home as well as in the office.

That means that the work experience of your employees will change. Think about how this trend will change your office. Do you still need a desk for everyone? Will people do more meetings at set dates? What will happen with your corporate culture? An office renovation might be the solution to cater for the “new normal”.

5. To make room for extra headcount

The purpose of office renovation can be to optimize and utilize the workspace more efficiently in order to fulfil future business requirements such as the addition of common space, addition of new equipment and headcount growth.

6. For sustainability of environment

You may want to update your office with the latest and environmentally sustainable interiors such as LED lighting, sensor-controlled lighting, and green furniture. It can be helpful to reduce office operating cost. It also has a great impact on customers as it shows that the company is committed and focused on environmental sustainability.

Make A list of needs and wants

As we described above clearly defined goals help. So how do you define these goals? Making a list of needs and wants for your office space can help you get started. When you clearly write down the needs and wants, you can easily communicate with internal stakeholders as well as with your designer, they can understand your requirements better and can adjust their drawings to cater for your desires. It also helps them make choices when not all wants can be implemented in the space.

For instance, the priority of some companies is an attractive hosting area and client-facing frontage while other require their own data support server and redundancy support for trading purpose.

You may need to renovate for other business goals, like:

  • Increase number and size of desk
  • Number and size of meeting rooms
  • Number of data and power points per desk
  • Number and size of employee rooms
  • Number of seating in the reception area
  • Dry or wet pantry

Obviously, not all of those requirements can always be met. Sometimes finding a different space somewhere is unavoidable. Luckily, there are many websites where you can find office space rather quickly.

Make a realistic budget for office renovation according to your requirements

Office renovation is something different from purchasing a product or commodity where the lowest bid will win. It is vital to make and communicate your office renovation budget with the designer or contractor that you select. If you start Renovation without making a budget, the cost proposals can differ in terms of quality, material, look and feel of your workspace. And it will also make it quite difficult to conduct a fair tender evaluation.

Moreover, you may want to keep at least 5% of your budget as a contingency sum to use for any change that is required by your team later. For example, if your budget is $100, then you could award the project based on $95 and can keep $5 for making any future changes in work scope.

What to do during construction?

Awarding your office renovation project to a contractor doesn’t mean your work is done. You have to be involved in the process as well to make sure everything goes according to plan.

  • Check in with your designer that Authority Approvals and proper permits are obtained before construction.
  • Relocate the office phone lines, set up the internet and other utility accounts.
  • Don’t forget to take weekly progress update from your designer to make sure all the decisions from you are made in time and the work is done as planned.
  • Do a defect check before you move in.
  • If there are design changes, ensure that you agree on the variation scope, schedule and cost with your designer before execution.

Procurement Lump-sum tender or model- Design & Build

For small office refurbishment, the most common procurement model is design and build, where you appoint a designer who then gets the builder or contractor to execute the whole project. It is a great model for the customer.

However, the design-bid-build is a traditional model in which you hire independent consultants, designers and engineers to complete a set of documents that best reflects the intent of the developer. This model is better for large corporations with huge office spaces and a long delivery timeline. This way, you get to have better control over the whole design and construction process. This is better for people who have expertise in executing more than one contract and managing different designers, vendors and contractors.

For both models, you should consider buying the list of items below, like loose and system furniture.

  • IT equipment like monitors, Wi-Fi routers, server rack, intercom, printer, copier, loose furniture such as armchair, stools and sofa
  • Office system furniture such as chairs, desks and monitor arms
  • White goods such as water cooler, coffee machine, microwave, fridge, projectors, shredding machine and interactive display screen
Learn more about fitout procurement and delivery methods in this article.

Should you hire a fitout specialist instead of a regular tradie?

Hiring a designer or a contractor? You can’t choose one of the two because it can be hard for a contractor to give you design inputs for your office. Also, it can be difficult for you to understand the following:

  • Right design practices for handicapped, acoustic, signage, ergonomic etc.
  • State of the art office equipment.
  • Office furnishings.
  • Acoustic materials.
  • Durable materials.
  • Efficient workplace layout design.
  • Office space strategy for future growth, sustainable design, collaboration and many more.
  • Good furniture available in the commercial office.

Commercial office space design is very different from a residential design. Although they might not admit it, not every contractor is capable to renovate your office space. It takes a specialised approach. To help you find the right fitout company, NEOGO’s large database of pre-vetted fitout companies allow you to compare and find the best available builder in your area by submitting one project brief. Our software will forward your brief to Australia’s best fitout companies.

Talk to a Professional

If you have decided that you want to hire a designer/builder, then remember they are not same the same as a residential interior designer. The fitout company you choose has to be familiar with building management, making authority submission to make sure your office is consistent with local regulations.

Without NEOGO, It’s not easy to find the right designer for your office, so we have created a portfolio of all the successful office spaces completed by a designer that we have worked with, and we made your search simplified with three steps.

  • Browse the completed office project
  • Enquire about the design you like
  • Submit your enquiry with the fit-out budget per square foot, move-in date and office size.

Three Steps to Get the Right Designer for Your Office
You will get a call back after your enquiry, and you can clarify or reiterate your requirements during the call with the designer directly. Then you can send an email with documentation of your requirements.

You may have to arrange a site visit for the designers that are shortlisted, maybe two or three designers, to take measurements of the site before they create a design and cost proposal. The proposal submission can take up to two weeks or more. But you should set a tender date for all the shortlisted designers.

Evaluate and hire a designer

After obtaining the design proposals, you can evaluate the designers and make sure to compare everything. To make the right decision with consensus, share the proposals with all the key decision-makers. Shortlist two final designers and conduct a quick thirty-minute interview.

The main goal for the tender interview is to make your decision-makers get to know the designers, understand how they will deliver the work, their working process, schedule the move-in date, team and if they can work with your budget. Make sure to look into their existing workload so you can check if they can deliver your project without stretching the resources.

So, make sure you get your teams consensus on the designer they prefer after the tender interview. Finally, ask your preferred designer to make revision and submit their proposal before you award them with the project.

What do you need to include in the contract?

You must give the project to the designer based on the agreed office layout and the design style you want. Some things that you include are:

  • The contract value, which includes workplace possession date, payment milestones and project completion date
  • Office floor plan
  • Bill of quantities, which conditions the material used and finishes

Remember, any change request in the office design will be subjected to extra charges. so make sure there is an acceptable clause about variations in the contract.

How to pick furniture for your new office space?

Your designer might suggest some furniture to you, or you may want to look for the furniture yourself. Here are four tips that we have created to do it right:

  • Try before you buy If you want good quality chairs, they may cost you over $400. You can request a loan chair to test out the chair. This way, you can test out several chair models simultaneously. Make sure that your staff gets to try the chair as well, so everyone gets to vote!
  • Invest in what matters the most You need to invest in everything that you are going to use for long hours in the office. If you work on multiple screens, then you should buy a good monitor arm which can take on the weight of all the monitors. Choose the supplier who can provide things tailored to your needs. If you work for long hours, then getting a standing desk could be helpful.
  • Get a warranty Cheap products can fail quickly, and therefore it’s unlikely that the warranty will be for more than one year. Usually, the warranty for a good quality chair can be of three to five years. A few suppliers who design their furniture may give you more than ten years of warranty. However, general wear and tear are not covered. Just make sure your warranty outlasts your lease time. And keep the warranty details so you can contact the supplier when needed.
  • Beware of lead time. Most quality products are made to order unless you can get the showroom furniture pieces. You have to wait at least eight to twelve weeks for foreign-made furniture. And you have to wait at least two to four weeks if you hit the festive seasons because factories are close. Ensure your furniture, such as the table and chair, get delivered before you move in.
  • Post office renovation and move-in When your office space is ready and you are about to move in, there are some things you should consider before you celebrate your move-in. Get your designer to furnish the complete Operation and Maintenance Manual (OMM). The OMM provides you with guidance about specifications of parts or materials used in the office fit-out, approvals, permit and records all authority submission. Get the designer to clear any defects quickly. Close up all financial payments with your designer.

Communication and engage your staff

Remember to not ignore this step throughout the renovation process. Talk to your staff about what is being done, why it is being done and the status of the refurbishment plan. This can make the whole process easier for them because it is going to interrupt their usual workflow.
Also, share all the details about your vision for the office. They may give you feedback or suggestions. By communicating with your staff, you can give them positive feelings about the office space renovation, and some of the staff may even help.

Another fun suggestion, you can make a big reveal to get everybody inspired and excited. Give them a little tour of the new office. If there are any hardware or software upgrades that employees might have a hard time jumping into, doing a training session would be a better option. You can reduce the hassle of office renovation with our services. We guarantee to provide quality service from our handpicked designer to make your ideal office space into reality.