Planning Ideas and Best Practices for a Successful Office Renovation
By: Elizabeth Strzalka
The flip side of that old cliché—about the futility of doing things the same way and expecting a different result—is that if you do want a different result, your best bet is to make a concerted effort to change things up.
That may sound obvious, but the reality is that in an office or professional environment, there are many ways to do things differently–and you don’t have to necessarily change your business model to make a radical shift. In many cases, it may be as simple as changing your workspace.
A renovation can have a remarkable impact on your team—helping to inspire them, make them more comfortable, foster creativity and collaborative work and ultimately lead to greater job satisfaction and an increase in productivity.
While change for the sake of change has its place, the fact is that many businesses are still operating in spaces that are not a great fit for them.
In the same way a growing family benefits from moving to a larger house, or a person updates their wardrobe after losing weight, an updated office space can be an essential piece of the professional puzzle for a growing company. Your environment matters. Fit matters. Businesses evolve, and your space needs to evolve along with you. If your workspace isn’t optimized to meet your needs today, you are doing yourself and your team a disservice.
As you consider whether or not a renovation or office upgrade is right for your company, and, if so, what that space should look like and how it should work, consider the following planning priorities and best practices:
Form follows function
When Identity moved into our current space seven years ago, we invested a great deal of money in a new, technologically sophisticated conference room. On paper, the space was very impressive. Unfortunately, we soon realized we had not thought critically enough about how we use the space. Our new conference table was too big and impersonal for the majority of our small-group meetings, and the space quickly became too small for the whole company to use as a group venue.
As you think about the design and functionality of a renovated office, be sure to consider fit and function, as well as aesthetics and technology. Above all else, you want a space that aligns with how you work.
Strike a balance
As important as it is to design a space that meets your professional needs today, you also need a space that gives you some room to grow and evolve. You don’t want to deal with the expense and disruption of a renovation every other year. With that in mind, work to strike a balance between a space that fits who and where you are today with who and where you will be tomorrow.
Plan ahead. Give yourself some flexibility and think about how you are growing as a company. Consider future hiring and promotions, as well. Will Alice in Accounting need her own space? Will Bob in Marketing want a corner office? As you go through this thought exercise, begin by making sure you have a clear idea of your future professional growth plans. Creating the right space is close to impossible without some clarity about your direction and future goals.
Get yourself together
Think carefully and critically about what kind of space you want. Not just how you want it to look, but how you want it to work—and even how you want it to feel.
As we planned our own renovation, we did a lot of thinking about how we use our spaces, and we tried to think both critically and holistically about how we work, and about how we communicate and move through the office.
A renovation is a valuable opportunity to create a space that supports and promotes the kind of collaborative work that distinguishes great companies. As our own work has become more integrated over the years, different teams continue to work more closely together—and we knew we needed spaces that would acknowledge and facilitate that reality.
We wanted a workplace full of spaces that would allow us to work not just more efficiently, but more creatively and collaboratively. To that end, we included a number of more flexible spaces—new “quiet” rooms, comfortable nooks, casual lounge spaces and a balance between small meeting areas and community/communal spaces. Even your furniture choices can reflect your work style: our new space includes a number of new chairs with flip-up arms designed for easy laptop use.
Creative design solutions can go a long way in resolving design challenges and maximizing the utility and visual appeal of your space. For example, we used glass walls in our renovated space to avoid boxing in windows and to preserve/maximize the amount of natural light.
It’s also a good idea to trust the professionals. We gave some basic guidance, but we asked designers to take the lead on suggesting designs and color schemes and creative concepts. We tell our clients to trust us and let us guide them–and we wanted to extend that same level of trust to our design partners.
Plan and prepare
While some amount of disruption may be impossible to avoid, careful strategic planning and coordination can go a long way toward making the renovation process as efficient and painless as possible. In the many months of planning that went into our own office renovation, we worked closely with the furniture vendor, construction team, electrical professionals and more to coordinate scheduling, and to plan our own operations around the renovation period (e.g. no on-site client meetings were scheduled during the three-week renovation).
Get your team onboard
Change can be a pain. The disruption from even a well-planned and seamlessly executed renovation can be a nuisance and a headache. Prepare your team for what’s coming, and prepare them for a short-term sacrifice to an end result that promises to not just be exciting, but inspiring.
Prior to our own renovation we conducted detailed walk-throughs, shared plans and solicited feedback with and from our team members. That process not only helps with planning and preparation, but also generates real enthusiasm, and may even help you evolve and grow closer as a company.
As you move forward together in your new space, that is the kind of simple investment that can pay lasting dividends.