Musical Chairs: Renovating Office Space While Working at the Same Time

October 03, 2005   Business News
(PRLEAP.COM) Brookline, MA, October 2005 – Level II Solutions

Even more daunting than moving into a new office space is construction and moving within current offices. Whether renovating current confines or pushing into adjoining space, the hardest way to do a move is to have people work while construction is going on.

“Although it is a difficult task, organizations can plan for implementation, practical use, and minimum disruptions,” said Linda Swerling, principal of Level II Solutions. “Following these guidelines, businesses can successfully renovate or expand their existing offices while remaining in the current space.”

Planning Phase
The place to begin is the lease. The lease spells out how the landlord wants to handle leasehold improvements. Some may provide a time limit; some an allowance for construction. Some will do the construction with their own contractors and subcontractors.
All will want to see and approve the construction drawings as part of the agreement. So they become another entity to manage, similar to the permitting process.

Next up is the budget. It is vital to calculate how much to spend on the project, taking into account whether or not the landlord is contributing.

In order to determine needs, a space utilization assessment can help understand roles and functions people fill in the business. Meetings with individuals and/or departments can help uncover the workflow to facilitate locating people and teams to be more productive.

After the utilization study, there is a determination on whether there to expand into additional space. This might not be necessary by clever planning of moving people and functions, taking advantage of open areas, workstations, and half walls.

Planning for Practical Use
While aesthetics are important for image, the space needs to work for the people using it. Included in the planning should be the need for managing noise levels and privacy issues for people on the phone. For a given area of cubicles, allow a small meeting area. Determine how much file storage, working surface area, and open storage space each person needs.

Plan for the voice, data, electrical, and lighting needs.

Input from management and staff through the whole process is necessary but a single point of contact – the project manager – is the person who communicates questions and decisions between the contractor, trades people, and organization.

Minimizing Disruption
Setting up phases is important when moving people to do the construction. Each phase needs to take into consideration how best to coordinate the contractor’s labor with delivery of equipment and supplies. At the same time, this minimizes disruption to the staff and their workflow.

When the phases are set, numbers for all areas, offices, and rooms on the master drawing provides easy recognition. Color-coding by phase gives a quick visual. Ideally, planning should require moving the network room only once. A staging area for the workers allows them to hold meetings, leave supplies, drawings, paint, and tools.

Employees should have stackable “follow me” crates containing essential supplies that move with them. All other office materials need to be packed and stored.

Frequent communication with the staff is a must – even multiple e-mails during the day. Contests, e.g., how many crates were used, and giving prizes keep the stress of living out of boxes at a minimum.

For more information on how to meet the challenges of renovating space while continuing to work, call Linda Swerling at 617-277-0222 or e-mail to create a brand new office that works for the staff, enhances the culture, and welcomes visitors.

Level II Solutions is a Brookline-based consulting firm that specializes in operations and financial management and offers part-time COO services to start-ups and growth-oriented companies. For more information visit, or call 617-277-0222.
Contact Information
Beth Tracy Gamble
Tucker Street Associates
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