Congratz in making to Part 2! If you have checked out Part 1 of the ultimate guide to Warehouse Office Design, check this out!
Here’s the ultimate guide to warehouse office design and this is literally EVERYTHING you need to know before/during converting warehouse to office. We break this guide to 5 parts, the first two parts are in Part 1 of this blog, and this blog will talk about the last three parts on Construction Phase and Post-Construction Phase. Within each part, you may find some checklists for the stage you are at. So sit back and let us guide you through.
PART III: THE CONSTRUCTION PHASE
Once the design has been finalized, the dirty work comes in. This is when the dirt flies and cement crashes on your office floor. It is best that you check the work periodically rather than all the time, as a lot of construction jobs are completed phase wise. The finish work you see at the end has many steps which need to be monitored in order to get the desired end result. However, make sure that the workforce employed is skilled and they know how to do their job with research and checking requisite documents. Standing on the shoulder of the worker will do no good to him or yourself as the SME owner. For your reference, the construction phase will comprise of the following steps:
- Selection of the Builder
Typically you either have a recommended builder from your parents/friends, or the interior designer will come up with their partnering builder as they have been comfortable with them for a number of years. The third way is to again find a vetted builder online, which can give you a pressure free channel to many many options.
Selecting a builder is important as he can turn a beautiful design to disaster, or vice versa.
When you receive the contract and quotation for comparison, read through the terms and breakdowns to make sure you are doing apple to apple comparison. It is a common scam for builders to miss out a lot of items in initial quotation so to win the bid, hence making decision purely based on lump sum quotation is an absolutely wrong approach. Also from the contract you can actually learn a lot about whether is builder is fair and careful.
Conducting face to face interview with the builder at site is important, as many potential issues of the site can be beyond visual. It will be also helpful if you meet several builder to see how they approach to the same challenge, maybe there will be some creative out of box solutions to cross reference. You want to make sure you are giving the huge chuck of dollars to someone trustworthy, professional and experienced.
When you set up the contract, make sure there is clear expectation and milestones aligned. Just like a planning a marriage, you should be also at the time planning for an exit in case things get sour. Moreover, always keep a retainer fee in the agreement which will be paid after a specific time has elapsed after the project is completed. This is like a warranty period and a check on your builder even after the project completes. Deliberate on the office design as much as you can during this time period.
If you are hiring only the builder without an interior designer, make sure you ask about past project portfolio and see if the style and quality is up to your standard. Ask them to quote according to the standard of the past project that matches with your expected project end result. Do not expect different builders can build the same design according to the drawings. You need to understand as a SME owner, your balance between budget and quality.
- Regular checks
Snap checks and periodic checks are absolutely important in the construction phase, regular weekly checking sounds right, there can be more towards completion date. Checking should include especially the places which get covered after the work is complete like sewerage lines, exhausts, and ducts. Safety of all office design changes must also be ensured with regular checks whether it is the installation of CCTV camera, alarm system or the fire detection system. Remember, that while cutting costs, do not compromise on the safety and security of your premises and your employees.
Sometimes due to any reason a change is unavoidable. If you feel that a change in the design is necessary, you must talk about its repercussions on the lines of finance and timelines must be discussed with your own team and the design team so everything is clear. Estimate the impact to overall project propose, schedule and budget before finalizing the change.
These implications include extra cost, missing of milestone deadlines, delay of overall move-in the schedule and extra design changes that one change brings. This must be decided before the change is incorporated and cost settlement must also be discussed to skip future tantrums with the designer.
- End of Work Checks
The most important checks in the construction work are the end of work checks. It is better that you have a checklist in hand while you carry out these checks as you can miss out on some of the most critical post-modification checks. Ensure that the interior designer (if any) is present in this inspection and both of you sign the contract completion report. Do not hesitate in asking for small changes that are not up to the design requirement or prescribed standards. The builder will be willing to go the extra mile for the retention money that has to be paid later on!
PART IV: POST CONSTRUCTION PHASE
Once the project is completed, there are certain actions that you need to take in order to make your business go at cruise control. Before the employees move in full time and they start complaining about hanging wires and fire hazards, you need to take certain actions. Cleaning and clearing out the rubble is the first process that you should carry out. Basic cleaning is usually included in the quotation of builder. However, if you want to go the extra mile, you can hire a professional company to do pesticide etc. in order to make the space inviting for your eager employees waiting to start work in the new warehouse office design.
You will also need to make furniture arrangements. You will need to decide if older furniture will suffice or you need to rent/buy new furniture. To save cost and do good to the earth, upcycling and decorating old furniture can give a good result, or buying new ones from Taobao or relevant facebook groups of your city will not be unaffordable. In any case, do take into account the space and corners of your warehouse. Moving in is the last operation that you need to carry out. Mark the extra large items that might not fit into the truck, or the lift, or the lobby turn, plan ahead and do not take things for granted.
Once the whole process is over, do change the security codes/keys so that the builders and designer and anyone not working for your company will lose access to your office. The last garnishing is also important when you put in the company motto everywhere to give the psychology hints. Safety signs and posters are also a must which is to be displayed in prominent places. Company name and logo should be set up as signage at mailbox, in lobby and other relevant locations. This is the time to do the minor touch up by decorations in office design.
PART V: NEW TRENDS
Warehouse office design is a relatively new concept in which large unused spaces are converted into spectacular offices. Some of the new office designs are inspired by contemporary interior designs which don’t actually look like offices but cool hangout spaces for the young and upcoming to stimulate inspirations. If you are looking for more latest trends, then you can look at 8 top office design trends of 2018.
Comfort and recreation are the top trends in warehouse office designs. Since you have a lot of space available you can use it intelligently to engage your employees in outside of the work activities. Some new ideas include
- Using modern technology to save cost and time. These innovations include automation systems to control lighting, curtains, employee access, photocopy machines and heating/cooling.
- Special stress on ergonomics.
- Robotic receptionists or helpers.
- Better inter-department connectivity through spatial organization and desk design, especially when two or more departments that has to interact on a regular basis.
- Flexible office hours which will require a different security system along with recreational and eating facility at a near distance for all employees to use and cherish.
- A design that inculcates a socializing environment rather than a strict school like the look. An engaging environment allowing the employee to personalize the space.
- Green walls, recycle bins and other environmental friendly accessories.
- If you have a team in the field, they must feel at home when they come in. A room for changing, lockers for luggage and suite, and hot desk for them is essential to keep them happy and motivated.
- Depending upon the kind of the office, you can incorporate special human need rooms. This includes rooms like soundproof sleepover rooms, nap rooms, distressing zones, mother’s room, shower room and things you can imagine of.
- Social media has played an important role in advertising over the years. Build a photo corner for all visiting people so that can take pictures and spread it online. This is a far better method of reaching a new audience without the conventional word of mouth method.
PART VI: BUDGET CONTROL TIPS
The best way to go about controlling the budget is transparency in your budget from the start of the project. Building services, exterior changes and structural changes is the most costly item on your balance sheet and therefore it must be avoided at all costs.
While cutting corners is not an advisable budget control tip, you still need to play smart when it comes to spending money. We understand SME owners will have more than one concern on spending money. But if you plan it right, you will always have the budget in control. When there is a tie in spending, always listen to your brain, logic and other office personnel rather than listening to your heart – take decisions on business/commercial terms instead of personal terms. Be flexible in the planning phase but once the design is locked, go all lengths in order to keep the original interior design intact as it will keep you from spending outside your initial budget and timeframe. It is unwise to save a cent on renovation or design, yet pay a dollar on rent for the delay.
Saving money in utilities is also another budget control option. While you get your office designed, keep provision for natural light and hence saving on the electricity bill. Similarly, all units whether for gas, electric or water should be used that comply with green technology such as natural cross ventilation, which further save your money in the long run.
PART VII: TIME-SAVING TIPS
Plan ahead can get the builder work in a more coordinated way as typically for a renovation project many different consultants will be involved, and sequence is important. It is a team work and hence needs good planning ahead so to move like an army.
Additionally, extra vigilance on your part will keep the stress on the workers to keep it moving. Do take regular pictures of the work and look at them in your free time, as in the rush of the day you may be missing out something that will cost you time later on. The earlier you catch mistakes, the easier and cheaper it will be to rectify them. Prompt feedback is another key to success.
Moreover, you can also speed up the process by following this comprehensive guide made especially for the people looking to not only save time but finish before the dreaded deadline.
PART VIII: SPECIAL DESIGNS
You must remember that no office design is finite in nature. Therefore, you can always incorporate some special designs in your warehouse office design. This may include a gym for your employees, a juice bar for the health conscious ones, a billiard room for the executives to chat and even an open kitchen for the employees to cook away their daily office stress. Imagination is the key to success when it comes to adding amenities to your warehouse office design. Do discuss this addition with your interior designer at the start of the process. However, if it is post renovation, an idea the designer can still help you in addition to these amenities.
This guide will help you in following the complete process step by step so you can actually get the office design of your dreams into actual reality, from day one to the day you open your new warehouse office door to employees and clients. God Speed!!
Question for Today: What is the most challenging part in the process and what are your tips for fellow SME owners? Share your feedback in the comment section below.