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Ultimate guide to planning a new office

Identify the key drivers

A new office environment will have a considerable impact on your business. You need a clear understanding of the influences behind the change as well as your expected outcomes. From here you are equipped to move forward in the process of creating your new workspace.

Before considering the design, location or size of your new workspace it is important to first identify the key drivers for change. These drivers can help you decide what will best suit your business – an office relocation or refurbishment of an existing space.

Drivers to consider include:

  • Expansion
  • Acquisition/merger
  • Contraction/re-structure
  • New/upgraded facilities
  • Staff morale/productivity
  • Improve image/client prospects
  • Cultural change
  • Changing work methods

Establish a project budget

When establishing a project budget for your new office environment, the general rule is to budget and then review your budget. We recommend estimating for everything including those not-so obvious costs:

  • Fees – Insurance, council & statutory approvals
  • Fire assessment plans
  • Design & fitout costs
  • Environmental assessment
  • IT telecommunications
  • Furniture
  • Waste
  • Security
  • Energy performance
  • Tax
  • Personnel costs (recruitment, redundancy, relocation)
  • Contingencies – recommended allowance of 20% minimum for unseen circumstances

Establish a timeframe

A project’s timeline varies considerably based on factors specific to your office fitout. Such factors include lease terms, marketing, building requirements and much more. Aside from determining the appropriate time to relocate or refurbish your office, a time schedule is essential to ensure necessary time periods are allocated to all stages of your new workspace.

Stages tend to look like this:

Stage 1: Workplace Strategy Phase

  • Address key drivers
  • Property search & evaluation
  • Concept development
  • Feasibility

Stage 2: Development Phase

  • Design development
  • Technical development
  • Contract negotiations

Stage 3: Delivery Phase

  • Sign fitout contracts
  • Make good on existing premises
  • On-site fitout & completion

It’s essential to consider these things when proposing changes to your work environment, to allow for correct estimation of completion date and reduce the chance of time delays.

Explore your business & spatial needs

Organisational culture can be enhanced when you create a new office environment, provided it’s incorporated in the correct planning stage. The planning stage of a fitout is also the best time to analyse your workplace’s spatial requirements. We recommend you address your desired organisational culture in the initial design phase, as a tool to tailor your workplace.

How? Make sure you’re collaborating closely with your marketing, brand and/or HR teams, who are usually the cultural brokers and change agents in your business. Together:

  • Examine your brand and culture strategy (or create one if you haven’t embarked on that process)
  • Agree on the core organisational culture concept you want to express in your environment
  • Understand the opportunities & risks in the change
  • Take your people on the journey, as early as possible, to ensure the proposed plan meets their needs and expectations. This will also help them take ownership of the change and champion it.
  • Recognise areas of your company values & culture which aren’t currently evident in your environment (or could be better expressed). These can create key action areas to address in your new office design.

When considering the spatial requirements of your company, remember to discuss shared facilities such as meeting rooms, breakout area, collaboration areas, amenities, as well as shared and individual storage.

Capture your technology requirements

Every business is now a technology business. Technology and IT systems are core to making sure your products, services and processes run smoothly and interface with the rest of the world. You’ll need to discover and capture your technology requirements in the early stages of planning your new workplace. Those requirements will depend on your industry, geographic location and size.

Here are some key things to think through:

  • The right person to manage your tech needs throughout the relocation/refurbishment
  • Power points, floor boxes & data points
  • Storage of hardware inventory
  • Building power source & capabilities
  • Secure & technically adequate location of server/s
  • Data management
  • Recovery & crisis plan
  • Back-up generator
  • Printer or other machinery locations
  • Service & support

To uncover the ideal technology requirements for your business you need to connect it to your business objectives (and how the technology will help you achieve them). An audit of the technology current office environment, including a gap analysis, is a good first step in this process.

Measure & improve your eco-footprint

Creating a sustainable workplace isn’t just about protecting the planet we live on, though of course it helps. It’s a smarter way to do business that lets you enjoy benefits such as:

  • Reducing operating costs
  • Attracting the next generation of talent (who prioritise sustainability as an employer offering)
  • Increasing staff engagement & reducing absenteeism
  • Increasing staff efficiency of staff
  • Building social capital & improving reputation internally & externally

These considerations will help you achieve a more sustainable workplace:

  • Choose energy efficient building materials/products
  • Incorporate environmentally responsible designs in the workplace, e.g. utilising natural light, installing motion detectors in low use areas such as bathrooms and smart heating and cooling systems
  • Implement technology to support an increasingly paperless office
  • Plan for recycling areas

Choosing the right location

Your accommodation agreement for your new workplace may be a lease renewal at an existing site, or a new premise requiring a property evaluation. In both cases, it’s important to ensure your location is adequate for your office needs, and that the lease agreement is in your best interests. We recommend a property evaluation to conduct a detailed study and analysis of any would-be constraints to a potential office space.

Physical elements of a workplace can present challenges, but understanding their unique traits can transform them into opportunities. Factors to consider during an evaluation include:

  • Detailed surveys of mechanical, electrical & water services
  • Functional operation of base building services
  • Efficiency of floor space
  • Sustainable capacity & eco-rating
  • Dilapidation reports
  • Public transport access
  • Car parking
  • Corporate presence
  • Compliance to DDA (Disability Discrimination Act)
  • BCA (Building Code of Australia) requirements
  • Proximity to eating facilities & other administrative needs

Ready to start a move? Not sure what you need and want to talk it out? Contact the team of experts at Axiom and we’ll help you out. 

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