Office fit out checklist – guide to fitting out a new office

Whether updating an ageing office or moving into a new office, fitting out an office takes careful planning. An office fit out checklist will help you properly plan your new office fit out.

Why create an office fit out checklist

Planning office space isn’t limited to moving into an unfurnished office and starting from scratch. Creating a planned approach to an office fit out is sensible, whether you’re updating unsuitable office space, accommodating an expanding team or simply want to improve the image of your work environment. An office fit out checklist is a great way to ensure you meet new environmental and workplace regulations, while ensuring the project stays within budget and on schedule.

An office fit out is a major project. It is governed by regulations such as the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. For larger projects, you’ll need to notify the Health & Safety Executive. For most start ups that won’t be necessary.

Regardless of project size, be sure to involve the right people, set a realistic budget and plan for everything from installing IT systems to choosing the right office furniture.

1. Involve staff in the office fit out plan

People should be at the heart of any office fit out. Gather office improvement suggestions from staff and ask customers their opinion when they visit. You’ll need to fully involve the landlord if the office space is leased. If you’ve the budget, consider enlisting the services of an office fit out company.

2. Planning and zoning

Create a seating plan for the office space. Map out power points and network access points, desks and chairs, as well as meeting areas and circulation spaces where staff move around. Model staff movement during a working day or week to identify the best place to seat staff and functions.

Zoning plays a huge role. Think about activities staff do – from individual desk time to using breakout areas and more formal meetings spaces. Create quiet zones away from areas used for gatherings or socialising. Acoustics are important, so consider installing sound baffle technology to manage office noise. Position desks to reduce glare from the sun and install natural ambient lighting as well as dedicated desk lighting.

3. Set a budget

Shop around for the best pricing for all the elements you need – from office furniture, plant equipment, updated IT equipment and additional services such as updating electrics. Get several quotes for everything, factoring in costs for design and office fit out contractor fees. Talk to your accountant to see which costs can be deemed legitimate business expenses. See if there are grants available, such as for installing environmentally friendly office fittings.

4. Create an office fit out project plan

Put together a project plan detailing the major milestones. The designer and office fit out contractor will be able to help with this. Once underway, hold weekly meetings with contractors to update on progress. Keep a snag list of smaller fixes as the project develops.

As the business owner, you’re responsible for health and safety during the office fit out. Make sure that you follow the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, and ensure contractors adhere to health and safety requirements. Ensure all visitors have a site induction during the fit out and wear suitable safety clothing.

5. Office storage

Storage is often overlooked during the planning stage, but it’s essential to get right. Decide what storage you need for office supplies as well as staff items such as wet raincoats and umbrellas. Look into off-site cloud storage for files and documents to cut down on clutter. Allow space for recycling and waste bins and use lockers so that staff can store personal possessions.

6. Office furniture

Depending on your budget, think about renting rather than buying. Office furniture can be expensive and must meet health and safety regulations. Choose furniture that brings your brand to life and matches your business culture – from formal and professional to playful and creative.

Involve staff in choosing furniture and think creatively rather than settle for generic rows of desks. Kitchen table-style layouts, hot desks, team workbenches, acoustic pods and chill out areas can help create a modern, flexible working environment. Don’t forget wall space for whiteboards and large images. A cheap alternative is to use office windows and glass markers as transparent whiteboards that make use of window space.

7. IT and technology

Technology can enable an office, but poor implementation results in bottlenecks and staff frustration. Calculate the broadband bandwidth your office needs, assuming large files and videos are regularly downloaded. Install two wifi networks – a public one for guests and a secure one for staff – to remove the need for ethernet cabling. Cluster photocopiers, printers and scanners together along with space for toner and paper.

8. Walkthrough and snagging

With the project complete, conduct a detailed walkthrough to identify any snags that need fixing and agree a timetable to fix them before signing off. Don’t sign off an office fit out without all the snags rectified as it can be a difficult to get small niggles fixed once the project has ended.

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