An office fit out can either be an exciting new venture or a stressful burden. As well as requiring weeks of meticulous planning to make sure the design, budgetary constraints and time constraints are perfectly mapped out, a fit out needs a talented set of project managers and fitters to ensure the whole project is delivered not just smoothly, but safely.

Regardless, and often because of the need to save money in a tough economic climate, many businesses try to save on the cost of a fit out by cutting corners, doing a spot of DIY or enlisting the help of a cheap contractor.

So what happens when you do try to save money in the wrong places, and what are the real costs of a bad office fit out?

AN UNSAFE OFFICE

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Your office must be designed in such a way that it takes into account every possible health and safety concern. Naturally, something this important requires a detailed site survey to be carried out by a professional who can identify any problem areas and who, unavoidably, can incur an additional cost. While this puts many business owners off this essential service and leads many more to search for a cheaper, less experienced alternative, it shouldn’t be something that’s scrimped on.

Right from the first planning stages of your fit out, your current office should be appraised and your new one designed around what would be safest for your staff, clients and visitors. As well as structural soundness to consider, your office must be designed in such a way that falls are prevented, furniture and fittings don’t risk injury, lights aren’t too glaring, floors are slip resistant and electrical wires, sockets and switches are correctly installed.

ADDITIONAL COSTS

Image credit: Rana Banerjee Photography

While some things in life can be bought on the cheap with no issues, an office fit out isn’t exactly a Tesco Value broccoli. In this case you really do get what you pay for, and scrimping on the very best contractors and products to do the job could end up costing you a whole lot more when the less than satisfactory work needs rectifying.

Where office design, refurbishments and fit outs are concerned, even a badly fitted light and uncomfortable, poor quality furniture can cost you a considerable amount to replace. Then there’s the downtime it can all cause, costing you just as much in time, productivity and output as in money.

While a seasoned professional might come at a price, it isn’t likely to be quite as high as the cost of fixing mistakes.

UNPRODUCTIVE STAFF

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When planning a new office fit out, your members of staff should be at the forefront of your mind. After all, the look, feel and setup of an office is integral to helping boost their enjoyment and, therefore, their productivity. Even an office decorated in the wrong colours can have a huge impact on their state of mind, with more intense shades like red, yellow and orange evoking feelings of unrest if used too heavily.

That isn’t everything either. End up with a poorly designed office that’s small and cluttered and they’ll begin to feel claustrophobic. End up with one that’s too large, however, and they’ll feel disconnected and isolated. Even cheap office furniture can wreak havoc on employee comfort and concentration if it’s poorly made and uncomfortable, and just imagine if it isn’t delivered on time! How will they settle down to get started on their work?

DISILLUSIONED CLIENTS

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A bad office fit out doesn’t just come at the expense of staff, but of clients too. If they walk into your workspace to find a cluttered layout and unsightly décor, their perception of your business is going to suffer instantly. And it isn’t just aesthetics that will have this impact; things like faulty phone lines and internet connections will interrupt communication with clients, cause frustration at both ends and, as a result, could make them go elsewhere.

Spending less on things like these might be more convenient for you, but it can potentially harm the client relationships you worked so hard to build and, as an extension, your business.

While it can be tempting to try and cut business costs wherever possible, one area that certainly shouldn’t suffer is the quality of an office fit out. As you can see from the points above, the real costs of a bad office fit out can put a lot of unnecessary extra strain on your business and, in extreme cases, jeopardise your bottom line.

Have you had an experience with a bad office fit out or even bounced back from one? Tell me all about it in the comments section.

Victoria Crawcour graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a degree in Interior Design. She can be found putting her degree to good use at Desk Centre; designing office interiors for commercial and corporate fit out projects.