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Office Fit-out: Common Challenges and How to Tackle Them

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

Office fit-outs come with a unique set of challenges, some of which include: working in a live environment, the need for modern technology and tools, the rising prices of materials, communication barriers and issues related to cost estimation.

Even with boundless resourcefulness and effort, hurdles can still arise which affect the success of your project. But with careful planning, our professional teams can help overcome these hurdles. Here we discuss some of the more common office fit-out challenges and how our team in Built Interiors have learned to tackle them.

Working in a Live Environment

This is by far the most common challenge experienced on office fit-out projects. A large percentage of our office fit-outs take place in a live, and sometimes shared, environment where continuity of services at all times are key. As well as service interruptions, noise distractions are another challenging impact. Noise distraction can be one of the biggest killers of productivity, so we prioritise investing considerable time at the planning stage to mitigate any and all distractions or impacts on live spaces and ensure that our schedule of works reflects this.

For example, St. Stephen’s Green was an extremely complicated project in a live environment completed within the confines of a tight city centre site and a fully operational 3rd level institution during exam time. The time we spent mitigating our impact on those around us and the exemplary delivery of this complex project earned our Managing Director, Barry Keenan a Gold Award at the prestigious CMYA (Construction Management of the Year Awards) held by the Chartered Institute of Builders.

Expense vs Investment

One of the biggest mistakes business owners can make is to consider their office fit-out as just an expense instead of an investment. Reframing the project like this from the very first day allows for better informed and considered decision making from planning right through construction and handover, by taking into account the future plans and strategy of the end user.

Planning is the first and most vital step in achieving a successfully designed office fit-out. Setting the tone from the initial kick-off meeting ensures every contractor is on the same page as to the client vision. This saves time and money in the long run allowing effective planning strategies to be incorporated throughout the processes. At Built Interiors we make sure that we understand our client’s long-term business plans so they can be incorporated into the fit-out. This ensures future scalability is built in and we’re not only focused on the present situation.

Never Forget the Landlord

It’s important to remember that some projects involve a landlord or owner of the premises who is not the client or end-user. This person often has a surprisingly large influence on the overall success of the interior fit-out. Some examples of the challenges with landlords include the fact the landlord may own an office space or apartment within the building and is stating the fit-out contractor may only work outside normal business hours or maybe they are not permitted to use the lifts for bringing in materials and furniture, maybe they even have restrictions on delivery times which could have knock-on impacts to the schedule.

We have extensive first-hand experience of negotiating these hurdles. We’ve learned over the years that the best way to tackle it is by ensuring the landlord is a part of the initial discussions during the planning stage rather than waiting to bring them in at the execution stage.

Bringing the Outside In

A recent analysis by Forbes concluded that “employee well-being is strongly correlated to employee productivity and performance and even a small shift in well-being can have a dramatic impact... Employees who enjoy and like the environments they are a part of will be more engaged, productive, happy, and healthy.”

Making poor choices at an office fit-out stage has the danger of leading to issues like harsh fluorescent lighting, poor air quality and ill-conceived working spaces which make for an all-around unhealthy and unhappy workforce.

At Built Interiors we suggest the key is looking for innovative and sustainable solutions such as internal green walls or green houses, rooftop gardens, responsive air purification and ventilation systems and state of the art BMS (Building Management Systems). Essentially your office fit-out is incorporating the natural environment to promote overall well-being for everyone that steps foot through your door. This in turn can help to alleviate stress, improve performance and enhance job satisfaction.

Managing Scope Creep

The last office fit-out challenge we’ll mention today is the potential creeping change in scope. Realistically almost every project has some sort of change after the work begins. However, the challenge lies in how this change is managed and incorporated.

Our Built team thoroughly investigates any proposed changes to determine if they are really necessary including calculating the impact on the budget, revising the timelines, schedules and deadlines and, vitally, documenting and communicating every change meticulously to avoid any potential of disputes or misunderstandings at a later stage. Our track record of repeat business with over 80% of our clients’ is a testament to the success of this approach.

At Built Interiors we understand that your building is part of your brand message, and in order to deliver a message of quality to both your staff and visitors to your office, you need a fit-out that conveys your commitment to high standards. Get in touch with Built Interiors today to discuss how we can help you overcome your next Office Fit-out challenge!

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