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5 time and cost-saving tips when planning your office fitout

5 time and cost-saving tips when planning your office fit-out

With lockdowns, changing work policies and business strategy overhauls, your organisation may not be operating in the same way it was at the beginning of the year.

Most of your company’s employees may be working remotely for the past few months, making you rethink your organisation’s workplace strategy. If your company has decided to make flexible work policies more permanent, or has decided to reopen with staggered teams coming to the office, you may be considering rebuilding your corporate space to better cater to your employees’ current needs. Alternatively, you may be considering relocating to a new space altogether — and perhaps building out an office that is leaner and more agile than before.

What are the challenges to watch out for when planning a new office fit-out?

A big move like this has its own challenges. You may be looking at a lengthy downtime and have a variety of health and safety concerns to navigate. Moreover, in a post-pandemic economy, you might have to negotiate a tight budget that leaves you with not much room for error. However, careful planning and the right partners can certainly help you make the move a resounding success. Here are some tips to make the process of designing and building your new normal office smoother, timely and cost effective. 

Tip 1: Set up a Project Management Office

A Project Management Office (PMO) is a vertical that oversees the project and ensures that it remains aligned with your firm’s larger business strategy. It helps standardise processes and methodologies, and monitors progress by maintaining regular audit, recording and reporting schedules.

Here at Space Matrix, we create a project management database that enables us to maintain a holistic view of all our initiatives. With it, not only can you map different build scenarios, you can also choose the most convenient solution and track the entire project right down to costs for every material and service and the delivery times associated with each. Even on-site monitoring can be enabled from within the platform, making it an end-to-end project management platform.

In this way, a PMO can take over the day-to-day fit-out management off your plate and eliminates the need to juggle tasks and manage multiple priorities. It ensures that the build-out stage runs seamlessly without going over budget or falling behind schedule.

Tip 2: Adopt Lean Construction principles

Given that several stages of the construction process are usually carried out simultaneously, there’s a lot of scope for confusion, mismanagement and wastage in terms of time, material and money. This is precisely what the Lean Construction methodology helps avoid.

Lean construction principles help streamline the various production and construction processes, and minimise wastage at each stage. It enables you to visualise and map each stage of the journey precisely. At Space Matrix, we use optimised trackers and dashboards to work concurrently with various stakeholders, making sure that all approvals are on track, deliveries are on schedule and the required tasks at each stage are duly completed so that the next stage of construction can be moved on to. One important way in which we are able to do this is by using renders and full size mock-ups to offer a realistic view of each step of the construction process.  Another important element is ensuring visual management of the project even at the site, so information flow across all stakeholders takes place seamlessly.

Tip 3: Procure your materials smartly

Procurement is a key area in which projects tend to overshoot on budget and time. Misunderstanding material requirements or over-estimating quantity can cause you to incur heavy costs unnecessarily. Not taking into account adequate time for delivery is another factor that contributes to this — like when your construction staff is engaged and kept waiting before the materials are delivered.

One way around this is to establish a central procurement arm that will engage with both your design and construction vendor. It can then work to align all requirements and manage spends accordingly. Alternatively, you can opt for a design-and-build partner that will source, manage and directly purchase all material requirements. Not only does this make planning easy, it also means greater accountability for your vendor who will then work to prevent such double margin costs.

Tip 4: Think ahead about facility management and services 

Failing to account for operating facilities until after construction is one little thing that can actually lead to some major hidden costs. Re-fitting an office to accommodate a housekeeping facility or some other service space after the build stage is a lot more effort and cost intensive than if it had been planned for, right at the beginning.

Make sure your vendors think through every aspect of your technological requirements and other experience-oriented details well ahead of time. That way, these requirements can be planned or bundled with other cost outlays such as lighting, ventilation and fixtures early on. For instance, HVAC capabilities can be planned along with the user experience technology to ensure that the infrastructure can be operated using an experience management system available to both the office manager as well as the end user. 

Tip 5: Engage with a Design & Build Partner

Working with a separate firm to design your project and then engaging another firm to build it out can result in some gaps in expectation and reality. Cost variations are one common example of such a gap — based on your interaction with the design firm, you might assign a certain budget to the materials, only to find out later that the actual costs are a lot higher than what you estimated. Likewise, you might experience a disparity in quality, management or design language, leading to less than satisfactory results.

Opting for integrated design and construction services on the other hand, can help you sidestep such issues. For instance, when you work with an integrated partner, the rendered prototypes tend to be 95-100% accurate when translated to an actual fit-out. Another advantage is that the process of procurement can be carried out simultaneously with the design stage. These factors drive massive time and cost savings, while cutting down your coordination efforts.

Partnering with an integrated design and build firm thus, comes with several major practical advantages. If you are working with limited turnaround time or have a tight budget to consider, such an integrated delivery model might be the most effective option for you. Get in touch if you would like to discuss how we can help with your next office build-out.