Coordinating an office renovation project of a working office is a huge undertaking. In this post, we’ll outline the key items that should be on your office renovation checklist so you have a successful renovation and keep everyone happy before, during and after it’s over.
1. Ask the bottom-line questions first.
Is a renovation the best option? Are we 100% certain relocating isn’t a better option? What are the goals and objectives behind this office renovation idea? Is our timing right? Are there any barriers, physical or financial, to completing a successful renovation?
Only after you’ve asked, pondered and answered these types of questions can you determine if things are in line for you to start planning an office renovation. If they are, and you’re renovating your office to serve its purpose of accommodating the different ways people work and work-related activities, then you could be like Pernod Ricard, who cut their turnover rate in half once they put their employees in a new, well-designed office space.
2. Investigate the current building and surrounding neighborhood.
Take the time to examine your current space in person as well as ask the building’s owner for architectural and engineering documents to see exactly exactly you’re working with. Are there any building strengths you should capitalize on? Are there features worth saving? Use the building drawings as a guide, but also have your design team do a walkthrough of the area to assess and double check accuracy. The more accurate the actual conditions you have, the fewer construction surprises and costs you’ll have during renovation.
And don’t forget about the outside. Does your office renovation need indoor and outdoor updates? Are there any office or building amenities valued today that weren’t put in place when the building was first built? Research has found that workplace design has a significant impact on attracting and retaining employees, and physical space is a clear indicator to prospects if a workplace is good or bad. So do your homework to figure out what your office needs to appeal to current and future employees.
One company that did this right is Facebook with their gorgeous nine acre rooftop park above their Menlo Park, California headquarters. Today’s workforce likes being mobile, and this massive garden allows Facebook’s employees to leave their desk and collaborate elsewhere, like in a hammock or on one of the walking trails. There are even coffee stands and a cafe so employees can meet and work while getting refreshed with some caffeine under the sun.
3. Craft a renovation strategy.
If you don’t create a well-thought-out strategy, you won’t get the best return on your investment of a new and improved office space.
The first part of a good strategy lays out the estimated renovation budget. Add up the costs of construction, needed materials, new furniture, labor, etc., and make sure to leave some wiggle room as surprise costs almost always pop up. Next on the office renovation checklist is what you’ll do with employees during the renovation. Do you have vacant areas or swing spaces you can put them in? If not, you’ll need to find some. In terms of office renovation design, keep in mind the current number of employees, future growth, technology, functionality, how employees prefer to work and office design trends.
Have your design team and general contractor work together to decide the best timeline and plan of action for a smooth renovation project. A team effort and right strategy will also reduce your risk of unanticipated costs.
4. Keep communication open with those who should be involved.
The people who need to be involved include the design team, general contractor, landlord, stakeholders and office staff. We recommend creating a detailed communication plan to keep everyone up-to-date on plans and the work schedule, as well as manage staff expectations.
In terms of keeping communication open, have the design team or HR personnel send out a copy of the proposed work schedule to everyone, and regularly update any date changes that occur. You should then hold a meeting where plans can be discussed and shown to communicate the vision of the renovation plan and eliminate any concerns. It’s also a good idea to let your employees get involved with the renovation before construction starts. Ask them what design ideas they have or would like to see implemented.
Once construction is underway, give staff periodic tours and updates so they’re kept in the loop and feel appreciated. Feeling appreciated, especially with millennials, contributes to greater loyalty.
5. Maintain good productivity levels.
Part of your reasoning behind renovating might be to improve workplace productivity. But keep in mind that during a renovation, employee productivity is impacted. In some cases, it can severely drop—unless you take care of a few things.
Plan ahead and keep productivity levels high throughout the renovation project by keeping clutter to a minimum, keeping communication open and maintaining the right lighting and noise levels. A study found that lighting is a key factor affecting employee productivity, so make sure windows aren’t covered and artificial lighting is available to provide enough energy and good moods for productive employees. The same study also found that noises are distracting and that men are more negatively affected by noises than women. Try to help counter construction noises by giving your employees noise-cancelling headphones, scheduling contractors to work in the late afternoon/evening hours when employees are gone or letting your employees work from home for a while.
6. Inform and train employees on their new accommodations.
Perhaps the most important factor of whether or not your office renovation is a success is if your employees are happy and comfortable operating in their new digs. The renovation should have created spaces that better accommodate how your employees work. However, you can’t just create the space, throw them into it and expect productivity, inspiration and revenue to spike in one day. Employees need a little time to get used to the changes, just like people do with any kind of life change. They’ll also need to be informed and trained on the new space and technology that’s now available to them.
Have supervisors or team leads give tours through the new space to those they oversee, and have them or IT specialists available to train employees on new technology. If there are too many employees and not enough IT personnel (or time), provide video trainings employees can work through on their own time.
We recently worked with Box to create this training video for their employees so they could visually learn how to use Teem when Box rolled it out to their company in their new building. They wanted a video because it allowed their employees to both hear and see how they could use Teem’s features and so each individual employee could train themselves at their own pace and at their most convenient time.
If you’re debating what design areas in your office need upgraded, take our quiz, Workplace Design: Where Should Your Company Improve?