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10 tips to ensure your new office fit out not only looks great, but makes sense.

The "Getting It Right" series presents a range of articles detailing information about how to get each component of the leasing process right for your business.
Lewis Harper
324 Queen St Fit-out

If you’re about to embark on the process of designing and building your business’s next office fit out, ensure you’ve given thought to the finer details of the design that will take it from good to great. Don’t forget, within the building, your office is where you’ll spend nearly all of your time, so give this process the attention and consideration it deserves.

Here are a list of specific items which, unless directly targeted and addressed, could easily cause problems for the life of your next lease. Make note of some of these recommendations for your next office.

1. Put carpet in the boardroom (acoustics);

Boardrooms with concrete floors tend to reverberate all sound. Similar to point 7, the acoustics in a room such as the boardroom are often quite important, either for confidentiality or general quality of environment.

2. Put a vinyl/tile finish in kitchen areas;

More than anything, this is a matter of tidiness, cleanliness and maintenance. Kitchens can be messy places, and any spillage accidents will be a lot easier to remove from a hard surface than carpet.

3. Think about who deserves the best – staff or clients – to decide where the boardroom should go;

For a lot of businesses, boardrooms and meeting rooms are not utilised to the same degree as the workstations that the staff occupy. This has seen a transition from boardrooms against the windows to impress, to giving the natural light to the staff. This is a decision that will be specific to your own business’s preferences.

4. Consider a closed off kitchen/breakout;

Conversations that take place in the kitchen/breakout are not always the type that ought to be seeping out to the working areas. Recent fit outs have seen kitchens built to be able to close off from workstations, allowing the kitchen/dining area to become an additional informal meeting space if required, and keeping any disturbances to a minimum.

5. Ensure appropriate distance between kitchen and nearby workstations;

For those working at the desks nearest the kitchen, distractions can be worse on account of the foot traffic, smells, as well as extraneous noises and discussion topics.

6. Make sure your meeting areas are directly accessible from the waiting area, rather than having clients walking through your back-of-house office;

Each business operates in its own way, yet most consider their privacy and confidentiality a major factor in their office’s design. Constructing your office’s fit out in a way that clients and visitors see what they need to see and nothing more will help maintain the barriers.

7. Exposed ceilings can look great, but can be flawed acoustically – we’d steer away from having them in areas for confidential conversations;

Most acoustic baffling is either in the gyprock walls or above the ceiling grid, so taking the ceiling grid and contents out will significantly reduce the acoustic viability of the area. This is most important in meeting spaces or in office environments that require increased levels of collaboration.

8. Think about line-of-sight within the fit-out – some areas are not the most attractive or well-kept, so it may be better to keep them tucked away from a client’s view;

Depending on your business’s needs, a well-designed space will be able to keep clients and private areas completely separate. Although open offices are popular for the penetration of light, privacy can still be achieved by creative layout design choices.

9. Keep costs down by drafting the wet kitchen areas close to existing plumbing (i.e. bathroom wall) you can make things easy on the pocket.

If it is possible to work off existing plumbing within your tenancy, utilising space near or in place of this area will allow you to save money and time in one of the more costly components of the fit out.

10. Growth on your mind? Plan for it early.

If the next space over happens to be vacant, you can account for future growth by designing your fit out in a way that the back of house workstations are positioned against the inter-tenancy wall, and as you add more workstations you can just push that wall further and further back. Think about the future and any ideas you can implement now that will help set the business up for the long term.

*image from 324 Queen Street, Level 24 spec fit-out.

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