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Office Fit-Outs And Refurbishments

The layout of an office is an important part of running a business and is often forgotten when budgets are being planned and time being set aside. Staff often make do when really the whole room or set of rooms should be given a good shake-up but part of the problem is that it is always hard to stop the work of the office in order to allow a complete refurbishment or even a really good tidy. This can be counter-productive, because staff working in a less-than-perfect setting can become stale and tired and their work can suffer.

Productivity can soar

One of the most important things that needs to be right in an office is the air quality and this can suffer if workstations or other furniture makes it difficult to open windows. It can be tricky to get airflow correct, because a draught is obviously both uncomfortable for staff who are in its path and also annoying if it blows paper about.

When refurbishing an office it is a good idea to install draught-free air conditioning if the budget permits; otherwise there are portable units which will ionise the air and make it less prone to allergens and smells. It has been proved that productivity can be doubled if CO2 in the air can be kept to a minimum and it is likely that the decrease in sick days and the increased output will more than pay for the outlay.

Clean sweeps are best

The problem that besets most offices is that they grow organically, rather than get a complete refurb every year or two. As offices are used by different people over time – a left hander replacing a right hander, for example – things do tend to become accepted as okay rather than the perfect answer to an ergonomic problem. Although staff input is clearly very important, it is equally vital that nothing is allowed to persist simply because someone ‘always does it like that’. This attitude prevents growth and improvement and although it is not sensible to change things if they work –‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ makes a lot of sense – on the other hand, a sensible middle ground is a good place to start from, especially if some staff are unhappy.

Not just cosmetic

An office fit-out can be just a coat of paint and some new carpet or it can address the furniture as regards health and safety too. The average office worker spends most of the day sitting at a desk and so the chairs, desks, keyboards and monitors are all important elements and getting them wrong can result in back pain or RSI (repetitive strain injury) which can make working difficult and painful and eventually impossible. Training staff to create breaks in their day and changing their working practices can sometimes be tricky, especially if they have been doing a job for some time, but some habits need to be broken; simply outlawing ‘lunch at the desk’ and insisting on down time can be worth any amount of new furniture in improving staff health and morale.

Peter Christopher

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