PLANNING AN OFFICE REFURBISHMENT
So, where do you begin when thinking about an office refurb? Well the first stage of any fit-out or refurbishment is to be clear about the motivation for change and what you are trying to achieve. Having clear objectives will also need to address any impact on the business during the fit-out, especially if there is going to be a period of working in the same building while the works are ongoing. Yet another win for architectural finishes, whereby there’s no noise, mess or disruption to the company during application.
A Cat B fit-out may use the existing floors, ceilings and M&E, with perhaps new partition walls, office layouts, changes of use, branding, decoration, carpets, lighting, IT and audio-visual (AV). This is the most common type of office fit-out, anything less than this is a refresh or refurbishment. For a less intrusive upgrade, application of films can be a great compromise option using the existing fixtures and fittings, as well as being a wise choice for your pocket.
An office that is physically comfortable and functional does not always mean it’s optimal. In the same way that workers can be physically present in an office but not ‘well’, an office can be physically adequate without promoting wellbeing, or inspiration. And yet, studies increasingly infer that it is the environment in which we work that is the main driving factor toward increased productivity. There are several methods to improve these areas, just by wrapping elements within the design scheme, which we will now explore.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR WORKPLACE HAPPIER
As the old adage goes, “choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
With human resources often the biggest cost for businesses, getting wellbeing right can make a huge difference. The World Green Building Council has produced a report Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter for Green Building. Wellbeing comprises indoor air quality, thermal comfort, daylight and lighting and biophilic design (applying a connection to nature). But it is also about planning how the building and people within it work best together, looking at the kinds of work they do, their motivation and the noise levels they make or can tolerate.
There is overwhelming evidence which demonstrates that the design of an office impacts the health, wellbeing and productivity of its occupants. Using these key findings can be used to make your workplace happier… all using film to do this. For example, by using materials, colours and textures inspired by the natural environment, office designers can help organisations create inspired workspaces that challenge the norm and cultivate better, more effective ways of working.
Most organisations track staff turnover in the normal course of business and most track reasons for leaving. Clearly, many reasons for leaving are not related to dissatisfaction with the office environment. Nevertheless, because employee turnover is so costly for organisations it is worth exploring further in relation to the office building itself. A generally accepted figure is that replacing an existing employee costs, in total, about 1.5 to 2 times that lost employees’ annual salary. The importance of creating a happy workplace has never been so widely recognised. Office design is a key factor to influence staff morale and create a happy workforce. So how can you tweak your next office refurb and put this insight into action?
HOW TO IMPROVE OFFICE EFFICIENCY WITH LIGHT
There are many factors to consider regarding lighting within an office design. Good lighting is crucial for occupant satisfaction, and our understanding of the health and wellbeing benefits of light is growing all the time. It can be difficult to separate out the benefits of daylight – greater nearer a window, of course – from the benefits of views out of the window. Several studies in the last decade have estimated productivity gains as a result of proximity to windows, with experts now thinking that the views out are probably the more significant factor, particularly where the view offers a connection to nature.
Whilst windows provide natural light so artificial lights are not needed as much, occupant comfort is just as important. Letting in good usable light is essential, however too much direct sunlight can cause glare and heat issues, especially for workers seated near to the window! They may be able to see out with all the benefits mentioned, but may also be in prime spot for screen glare issues too.
The ceiling and office layout also play an important role in providing natural light deep into a building. High ceilings will increase the daylighting penetration into the building by allowing light to bounce further off surfaces in order to travel deeper into the space.
Open office designs with low cube walls or partitions will also allow the light to travel more freely, unobstructed deeper into the room. Conversely high cube walls or walled offices will block the light from traveling deeper into the space. Surface reflections are also important, the higher the reflectance, the more light will be bounced further into the interior, which is particularly important for ceiling design.
THE ADVANTAGES OF USING WINDOW FILMS
Glass and windows allow an office to experience the benefits of natural daylight, yet direct sunlight can in fact cause issues of glare and solar heat gain within a business. Energy savings are important for a business, but occupant comfort is of equal importance. If workers are uncomfortable they will take action to make themselves comfortable by closing blinds or finding out another way to make themselves comfortable. This is certainly not how these buildings were designed and instead of providing natural light to the space these countermeasures have the opposite effect and don’t look the best either.
Solar control window films can be a very good option for existing buildings where direct sun is an issue. These films reduce the amount of visual light that is transmitted through the glass. Window film can also improve the exterior appearance of the building as well as save energy by reducing the cooling load needed. However, too much direct sunlight can have negative effects on comfort which will then reduce the amount of light to the space by closing blinds.