In order to find the perfect space for your business to flourish, your office relocation should be a long thought out process that takes into account a number of factors. It is important to spend some time understanding the requirements of your business and how much you are prepared to spend on new premises. Setting a sensible budget will help you to monitor expenditure and avoid overspend.
A good solicitor and acquisitions agent should be appointed to advise on lease considerations, landlord negotiations and other legal aspects of office relocation and a professional office fit out contractor should be appointed. Often this is provided as a full turn-key design and build service which has benefits in terms of cost and timescales.
Before renting an office ask to see its Environmental Performance Certificate and look into any energy-saving measures the building might or might not have. The energy efficiency of a building can make a huge difference to your bills and can limit the impact of your business on the environment
We’ve put together this guide to help you understand the various things you’ll need to consider when looking at space:
Having a comfortable and efficient working environment is paramount to office productivity. Your space requirements should reflect the size of your workforce with enough room for future company growth. You will also need to take into account circulation routes, space to hold meetings, breakout areas and kitchen and toilet facilities.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states that “Every room where persons work shall have sufficient floor area, height and unoccupied space for purposes of health, safety and welfare”.
Although there are various online space calculators it’s not a case of simply punching numbers, each space is different and each company is unique in the way they work. We advise having around 125 – 225 sq ft of office space per person, although having a test fit space plan will help to clarify how much space your business will need.
Flexibility of space
You will need to run structured cabling for data and cabling for power to each of the desk positions in your office. The design of an office may prevent you from using certain cabling methods and it is vital that you consider these limitations.
Widely used these days in modern office space, a raised access floor creates a void for the passage of data and electrical cabling or indeed other services such as mechanical or plumbing. If the space doesn’t have the flexibility of a raised floor you will need to consider how you will provide power and data to your desk positions, this could mean you need to plan all desks to be against walls to reach wall mounted sockets or trunking.
Suspended ceilings can also affect office layout design. If you are dividing up the space visually or with partitions you may need to relocate lighting, smoke detectors, air conditioning and ventilation or sprinklers. This can be costly and difficult for the an untrained eye to spot which is one of the reasons you should always take an office fit out expert to view potential spaces with you.
Choosing an office with existing services that can benefit your business can be cost effective. However it is important to have an expert take a look as services can become tired or obsolete and could leave you with replacement costs.
Floor boxes are an effective and flexible means of distributing power and are present in many modern office spaces. If these are already in place it may be a simple case of relocating them to suit your new layout. If you are not planning on completely replacing the carpet, make sure you have some room in your budget for some new as each floor box relocation will require up to four carpet tiles.
If floor boxes are not present but a raised floor is in place (see above) landlords will often free issue floor boxes to the fit out contractor or will provide the tenant with an allowance against them as part of the lease. It is worth asking the question at the lease negotiation stage as a budget figure for new would be £100 to £150 per workstation to provide new.
In older buildings or where there is no option to have elevated flooring with floor boxes, power is often distributed by way of perimeter trunking. The system is visually less attractive and less flexible than a floor box system but it is a completely serviceable solution. Again, with a newly landlord refurbished space perimeter trunking may be in place but it may only have a nominal amount of power outlets within it so you will need to factor in relocations and additions.
If neither are present, you may have to consider whether your budget will cover the expense of installing new trunking or floor boxes.
Light is one of the most important features of an office as it can influence employee efficiency and levels of absenteeism. A professional office designer will be able to assess how natural lighting can be maximised and how artificial lighting is distributed.
Category 2 and LG7 are buzzwords you may hear banded around about lighting. Category 2 light fittings were introduced to suit the rise of VDU screens in the late 1980’s with the aim of limiting screen reflection. You will see this type of light fitting used in numerous older buildings and they can generally be identified by the “egg-crate” style of louver. This style can produce a fairly gloomy working light and are no longer specified on new build projects.
LG7 is a design guide and can be achieved in any number of ways. You will normally hear this term referring to a direct/indirect light fitting with a winged type of louver.
Numerous other types of light fittings may be present from simple fluorescent tubes to compact fluorescent, low voltage or LED lighting. If you are in any way unsure you have us come and take a look at the space.
– Data cabling
Data cabling is used to provide a connection between the desk position and the data cabinet, router or internet. It is presented as a telephone type socket within floor boxes, trunking or on walls. Be aware however that the presence of outlets does not necessarily mean there is existing cabling. It could have been disconnected or simply cut and left under the floor. If redundant cabling is still present under the floor it could lead to your data contractor making a charge to remove this before running new.
Unless you are viewing a serviced office, it is unusual to find a place already cabled as most companies prefer to install to their own specifications. If there are data outlets present you should ask if there are any test certificates, if it is new or if it is just in place from the previous tenant. If it is the latter you should have it tested by a professional to ensure it is working efficiently. As with power, it’s necessary to factor in the cost of relocations and additions as it’s unlikely that all of the outlets are in the correct place for your space plan.
– Heating and cooling
Adequate temperature control is vital in keeping employees comfortable and concentrated on work. More often than not there will be an air conditioning system in place. True “air conditioning” will usually provide heating, cooling, ventilation, fresh air and humidity control whereas “comfort cooling” simply cools the existing air.
There are a number of ways these items can be presented such as visible units or concealed systems that can only be seen by the presence of grilles. Consideration should be made as to how flexible these units will be when partitioning up the space. Moving them can be costly, ignoring them when designing a layout can be disastrous.
– Fire safety
Most buildings will have some kind of smoke detection and warning system, usually smoke detectors and sounders connected to a main unit in the reception. These will need relocating to suit any new layouts. Often this needs to be done by the landlord’s preferred contractor and so costs can be a little higher than if carried out by the fit out contractor.
In some buildings a sprinkler system may be present. This is a major consideration if partitions are introduced to the space as sprinkler locations will need to be moved. This is an expensive specialist plumbing procedure and the cost is usually borne by the tenant.
Make sure the building is safe and secure. Windows, skylights and doors need to be reliable and, if there is any, security personnel should be efficient. Verify if there have been any recent break-ins and whether these faults have been fixed. In case your company needs it, check that there is 24-hour access to the building and the security to go with it.
If there is a manned reception, ensure that the service offers good customer service. You cannot change the front staff of an office building directly, but in a way they will still be the face of your business.