Office Renovation Secrets

Rachel Ng and Nick Anwari

How to ensure your corporate office makeover is a sweet dream and not a nightmare (plus some useful ‘Office Interior Design Briefingdownloads for corporate clients and design agencies).

Renovating a commercial office may seem like a complicated task and it’s certainly true that there will always be complexities, especially when business disruption has to be minimized.

But an appreciation of the planning regime followed by experienced refurbishment experts can smooth the path of your project and might even win you ‘go-to’ status ­– although that’s a title you may wish to avoid!

Here are the key processes the professionals apply when embarking on an office renovation…    

Research and more research

Whether you are a commissioning client or a design agency, thorough research gives your project firm foundations. It also helps decision-making at every stage. Typical areas to investigate will include:

  • Review the current building condition – if any significant maintenance or repair is needed, it needs to be done before renovation begins.
  • View the office location and surrounding vicinity to assess what aesthetic and practical qualities would complement the environment.  
  • Seek opinions from tenants sharing the same prospective building who have had their offices renovated. Their experience (good or bad) can inform your approach.
  • Collect photos and design reference ideas from other renovated offices to help your chosen design consultants understand your preferences and aims.
  • If you have flexibility in building choice, consider leasing space with good sustainability potential.
  • Confirm leasing conditions and duration to determine the viability of your refurbishment investment.

Design planning

Here’s where professionals start drilling down into the details. There’s a long list but below you will find most of the basics:

  • Will the workplace plan support strategy for future growth and more office staff? 
  • What is the operational activity and work culture in the office? Is hot-desking versus assigned table arrangement preferred? Is the current open-space concept combined with flexible break-out areas a preferred option?  
  • What are the operational must-haves for achieving an efficient and flexible workplace layout?
  • How will disability requirements, signage, acoustics and ergonomic factors be addressed?
  • What is the required durability and longevity of materials, finishes and office furnishings?
  • What provision must be made for accommodating state-of-the-art office equipment?

Other needs may include:

  • How many data and power points are required per desk?
  • How many desks are required and of what size?
  • How many private and meeting rooms are required and of what size?
  • Is a dry or wet pantry required?
  • What is the size of the reception area and how many seats must it accommodate?

Health and safety considerations will always be paramount. For example:

  • What provision is needed for temperature screening and social distancing?
  • What materials and finishes (antimicrobials etc) could be specified to support well-being?  
  • Can biophilic design principles be applied, such as living greens, sunlight, and natural elements?
  • What air quality control measures can be incorporated?

You may also wish to explore how building systems technology could enhance safety, operational efficiency and environmental quality. This can include innovations such as movement sensors to track occupancy level and control lighting and ventilation economically. Smart glass for automated sun shading, facial recognition for swift office access, and touchless door controls for added hygiene.

And, naturally, all proposals must comply with building codes and the lease agreement conditions. The latter to be shared with the design consultant / project management team from the outset. Don’t forget, our Office Interior Design Briefing download will help you tackle this.

Budget Planning

Thorough budget planning is fundamental to successful office renovation. Preparing for the unexpected being an absolute necessity. Here we list the main cost elements:

  • Design ambitions and choice of materials will account for a significant proportion of renovation costs. Be realistic about the core needs and ensure they are fulfilled first.
  • Every sizeable project will incur professional fees for design consultancy, project management, engineering such as LEW (Licensed Electrical Works) submission, or FSSD (Fire Safety and Shelter Department) submission, and legal services.
  • You will need to allow for the costs of new or refurbished furniture, security systems and office equipment.
  • Landlords may require a renovation deposit, which is refundable upon completion if there are no damage claims.
  • Depending on your project, you may need to allow for reinstatement works to old office space.
  • Contingency budget. Here’s where preparing for the unexpected comes in. Always allow for unforeseen factors or changes in plan.

Project planning

One of the client’s early moves should be to appoint a staff team to be responsible for internal communication and external liaising with consultants. For companies ‘going it alone’ without the assistance of a design consultant or external project manager, it can be overwhelming to coordinate the many different groups of trades involved in a renovation. Typically, these are the main activities to manage:

  • Design and project submission administration.
  • Demolition works (If any).
  • Flooring.
  • ACMV (Air Conditioning and Mechanical Ventilation Systems).
  • Electrical and networking.
  • Fire safety.
  • Partition walling.
  • Carpentry.
  • Painting works.
  • Wet works and plumbing.

Logistics and phasing

Many businesses do not have the luxury of being able to move into temporary accommodation while a major renovation is being carried out. It’s therefore essential to plan the project so that business disruption is minimized. For example:

  • If an existing office space is being renovated, the project may need to be phased. This will entail careful planning to move staff in stages as the work progresses and is completed.
  • Packing and logistics arrangements need to be carefully scheduled to ensure staff have everything they need to continue working effectively.
  • Reinstatement plans for old office space may need to be incorporated.

Furniture that fits

Office furniture plays an important role in any renovation scheme. It not only has to support the design aesthetic but has to be practical, comfortable (if it’s seating) and appreciated by staff. Your furniture plan should include the following:  

  • Review the condition of existing furniture and decide in conjunction with the design consultant whether it can be reused in your new office setting.
  • Sell any existing furniture which cannot be reused in the new scheme.
  • If the decision is to invest in high-quality new seating, clients can usually request chair samples on loan from suppliers. This allows different chair designs to be tested by staff and votes to be taken on their favorites – an exercise that helps to involve staff in the renovation.

There are a great many plates to spin when taking on a renovation. Thankfully, there are specialists who can ease the process and ensure a satisfying result. At CDI World our design and project management teams have the experience and capability to help you achieve a solution that meets your needs. Contact us for an initial discussion and we’ll be delighted to show you some projects from our portfolio.


In the meantime, we’ve assembled two downloads that may be useful. For corporate clients or brand owners about to hire a design consultant, we have prepared an Office Interior Design Briefing form that can be used to inform the consultant of their key design requirements.

[sdm-squeeze-form id=”3801″ fancy=”0″ button_text=”Download Now”]

For design consultants about to embark on a renovation project, we have produced an Interior Design Site Survey form that details the key measurements that will be needed to develop accurate design drawings and to brief other specialists.

[sdm-squeeze-form id=”3800″ fancy=”0″ button_text=”Download Now”]

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