Transformation at Work: A Definitive Office Renovation Guide
07 Nov 2022
Life, as we know it, will never return to exactly the way it was before the pandemic. Virtual meetings and work-from-home arrangements will persist, though not necessarily for pandemic reasons, but because they now have a role in our lives and their introduction was expedited by the pandemic.
Companies will continue to seek a fundamental rethink of how offices are planned and designed. Employee expectations of the workplace have evolved, and people now return to the office looking forward to in-person social interaction and greater collaboration with colleagues, while observing prevailing safe management measures.
Additionally, technology, sustainability, and well-being will continue to be guiding tenets for the post-pandemic office redesign. Companies need to take a step back and reimagine the workflow of their teams before making major modifications to the workplace.
Whether you are planning for an office interior renovation at your existing workplace, or looking for a new office space, here are some key points to consider based on our workplace design and build experience since 1996, and especially during the pandemic.
We hope you find our guide useful, and welcome you to reach out to us if you need further advice or assistance. Stay safe, and keep well!
6 Key Office Interior Design Trends
1. Fixed to Fluid
Allowing a pandemic on and off setting is necessary and important in today’s context. There is a need to be flexible, mobile and agile to allow spaces to be regularly transformed as and when needed. Spaces should be able to cater for an increase in headcount, such as designing the pantry and collaboration areas to be used as hotdesking spots if required. It is also important to ensure that the IT infrastructure in these common spaces caters to these needs.
2. Open vs Enclosed
Against the backdrop of hybrid work, enclosed office designs can double up as bookable meeting rooms when they are not in use by the designated occupant, therein maximising their mileage. Employees need to feel a sense of safety when they return to the office, and the spatial layout of work zones will need to address safe distancing. We also see an increase in requests for private phone booths and smaller meeting rooms to support virtual discussions.
3. Digital Technology
Digital technology will continue to play an essential role at the workplace to facilitate a hybrid work model and support safe management measures. Examples include online booking systems for meeting rooms and work desks, high-tech video conferencing software, facial recognition technology and touchless entry and exit points with auto temperature taking.
Biophilia is defined as the innate human instinct to connect with nature and other living beings. This concept is foundational to biophilic design, which utilises natural materials, greenery and even the maximising of natural light in an indoor environment to maintain a connection to nature within the built environment. Biophilia is more than just a philosophy—biophilic design has been found to support cognitive function, physical health, and psychological well-being.
You may be interested in: Going green: How sustainable office design can lead to healthier workplaces.
5. ‘Resimercial’ design
The main idea behind ‘resimercial design’ is that employees may be more inspired if they are encouraged to relax and unwind at work at the same pace as they are at home. As such, ‘resimercial’ office design, a portmanteau of residential and commercial, aims to encourage innovation and creativity at the workplace by incorporating elements traditionally found at home in office design. This can include lounge seating, nap pods, and soft lighting.
An example of this would be our corporate interior design for a Singapore-headquartered investment holding company. As the client wanted to encourage spontaneous employee interaction while catering to different working styles, we provided a balanced mix of public and private spaces, so that employees can freely socialise with each other, and retreat to quiet zones when they need to focus.
You may be interested in: How we tapped on the senses to redefine the boundaries and expectations of IMC’s new workplace
6. Sustainable design
As climate change and the eco-conscious movement gain traction, sustainability has become an important focus for many businesses and potential employees. Companies committed to the environment and sustainability will adopt a more mindful approach to their office renovation and design. Sustainable office design components may range from advanced air purification systems, living green walls, or furniture and materials that are carbon-neutral or fashioned from recycled materials.
While these are a few of the most popular office interior design trends in recent years, businesses should remember that they are just broad concepts. By interpreting these trends based on what works for and resonates with your organisation, you can then mindfully integrate your company’s brand and beliefs into the physical work environment.
5 Things to Remember When Designing Your Office
You may be tempted to bring an experienced interior designer onboard once you have determined the main requirements of your new workplace. Nevertheless, there are a few things that companies can do to assist the interior designer in gaining a deeper understanding of what needs to be conveyed or achieved through the renovation.
1. Get your employees’ input and enable autonomy
If organisations want to boost productivity and work satisfaction through office interior design, it is crucial to solicit input from the end-users – the employees themselves – before the design and layout are cast in stone. This could be in the form of online surveys, focused groups, or townhall meetings.
Once you and your team are aligned on collective goals and individual user needs, allow your team members to decide how, when, and where they complete their work. In a 2021 study of 5,000 knowledge workers around the world, 59% indicated that flexibility is more important to them than salary or other benefits. Along with certainty, autonomy is one of the five key drivers of threat and reward in the brain. When people feel in control and that they have a choice, they are more motivated and experience higher well-being. Conversely, a lack of autonomy can elicit a strong negative reaction that can diminish the ability to focus and collaborate.
2. Decide which forms of technology will be incorporated into the office space
With smart office features becoming an integral part of modern workplace design, organisations will need to consider the type of IoT products they will need and where they should be placed for optimum user benefits. If your company plans to have collaborative spaces, you may need to think about providing smart whiteboards and computer screens to facilitate meetings between onsite and offsite workers.
If your company holds a lot of meetings, introducing an online room booking system and having a smartboard that displays meeting room availability in real-time can be useful. As such, while technology has the potential to vastly enhance business processes, organisations must carefully plan how to incorporate it into the workplace in order to improve business performance and accelerate growth.
3. Ensure scalability of office interior design
A central part of running a business successfully is planning and preparing for the future, and it is no different in workplace design. When you are putting together your design brief or test-fit plan, it is important to factor in the possibility of employee numbers fluctuating over the next few months or even years. A future-proofed workplace is designed for flexibility and can accommodate projected headcount and company growth. This not only refers to having enough desk space, but also means ensuring that other facilities such as the common areas and meeting rooms remain flexible in layout. By having pre-planning measures in place, your commercial interior designer will be able to better support your future workplace needs.
4. Determine the purpose of the physical workplace
The pandemic underscored the need to prioritise health and well-being at the workplace. With more companies adopting the hybrid work model, employees will rely more on technology to connect with one another. What this means is that companies now have a unique opportunity to foster meaningful social connections between employees when they return to the office.
Creating an office environment that is worth the commute requires a reimagined approach to workplace design that focuses on people’s experiences. Human-centric design can take the form of flexible work settings to cater to different working styles; empowering employees to choose how they want to work, or incorporating room for wellness through relaxation or break-out areas.
5. Plan the budget
Once you have assessed everything that you need to include in the new office space, it is time to plan the budget. Whether it is an office restack or design and build, the renovation cost will depend on many factors such as: layout complexity, flooring, size of the units, electrical furnishing, plumbing needs and consulting fee.
Workplace design is not just another static budget item lumped in with real estate costs and office furniture expenses. Today, companies have realised that their offices are investments. Putting money into the right design, layout and furniture can transform a workplace from ‘just a place where people work’ into a powerful business tool that can boost productivity, foster innovation as well as attract and retain talent. This will be covered in greater depth in the next section.
Types of Office Renovation Services in Singapore
From conceptualisation to move management, commercial interior design firms provide a wide range of services that cater to your company’s desired objectives for the new workplace. Here are some examples:
The workplace landscape is always evolving and an interior design firm worth its salt will be able to guide you through the research and decision-making process. The design process typically starts with stakeholder workshops to understand your business and user objectives as well as pain points. This could be followed by a site selection and feasibility assessment to support your pre-lease planning. Adopting a sustainability and wellness-driven approach in your planned new workplace can also be part of your design brief.
Design conceptualisation and development
Organisations can be certain that experienced office interior designers who have spent years honing their craft will be able to deliver smart design strategies that drive a tangible impact on your business. This includes workplace understanding and efficient space planning to transform your office into a conducive work environment that suits your needs.
Project management and delivery
As there are many parts to coordinate in an office renovation project, an interior design firm with an in-house project management and construction team will help streamline the process and ensure that everything is going as planned. Some companies prefer the design-and-build model, in which a dedicated team provides them with design consultancy, project management and construction services under a single contract. The benefits of this arrangement include liaising with only a single point of contact, a more efficient project timeline and reduced variable costs.
A design-bid-build construction model, on the other hand, involves awarding the project for design consultancy and construction to separate entities and under different contracts. Bringing a consultant onboard in the early stages of a project allows for more research, measurement and analysis to be conducted, therein guiding the design development process and ensuring that user needs and pain points are adequately addressed.
Office renovation involves several areas of expertise, from workplace understanding to design development and project delivery. Hence, before choosing an office interior designer, be sure to consider their experience, track record, reputation and even financial standing. You can also request for client testimonials or a tour of the company’s completed projects to get a better sense of their capabilities.
4 Factors That Impact Office Renovation Prices
While the cost of an office renovation is largely determined by the size of the floor plate, the final cost can also be affected by a variety of other factors.
If your new workplace requires the construction of an inter-tenancy (or internal) staircase, extensive electrical rewiring, wall hacking, tiles installation or air-conditioning systems, these can add intricacies to the project and consequently affect the price.
Office interior designers usually charge hourly rates for their consulting services. This is the one area that companies should not skimp on as a competent firm can provide strategic recommendations based on their experience with building landlords and knowledge of regulations that govern office renovations in Singapore.
Choice of Materials
This is typically more applicable if companies are changing the floors, repainting the walls, and planning to get furniture built by the design firm. Rather than the type of material used, the cost is determined by the amount of labour needed to integrate the material into the workplace. Marble flooring, for example, is more costly than wood flooring because it is more difficult to install. As for furniture, bespoke furnishing is usually costlier than ready-made solutions.
Even though floor plate size is one of the main determinants to cost calculation, it is not the only one. When starting a renovation project, companies need to understand the level of complexity of the work, the consulting fee and the choice of materials also influence the overall budget.
How To Find A Reliable Office Renovation Contractor in Singapore
After determining the workplace design and planning the office renovation budget, companies will need an interior design firm that can successfully achieve their vision. As corporate interior design differs a lot from residential interior design, the first step would be to find a company that specialises in that specific area. Other criteria in finding a good contractor are:
Track Record & Reputation
Review the company’s past projects (preferably in a similar sector as yours), client testimonials and the awards they have won. These are all signs of a business with experience and expertise in office interior design.
Quality, Health, Safety and Environment (QHSE) Qualifications
Is the agency endorsed by national bodies when it comes to workplace safety and health? For example, in Singapore, bizSAFE is a nationally recognised capability-building programme designed to help companies build workplace safety and health capabilities.
Ability To Deliver on Time
Request for client referrals and speak with them about their experience with the agency you are reviewing. A company with an established track record of delivering projects on-time and within budget will offer you and your team greater assurance.
Assess if the agency has good financial standing, such as a low debt ratio.
Ready to embark on your workplace transformation? We are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about how we can design and build an inspiring and collaborative workplace that drives innovation and improves the well-being of others.