Costing office fit-out for activity-based working

More organizations are adopting agile or activity-based working, keen to make the most of the efficiency and wellbeing benefits it promises. Martin Kellett and Nicola Gillen examine how office fit-outs need to adapt to support these new ways of working.

With activity-based working, office buildings provide a range of different spaces. As the phrase suggests, activity-based working means it is design to support a range of tasks with formal and informal meeting rooms, quiet working areas, cafes and so on – to improve collaboration, information sharing and productivity. Activity-based working gives a diverse workforce the chance to meet and socialise. It is also a more efficient use of floorplate than traditional open-plan layouts.

We produced our first cost model on activity-based working in 2014. Since then the idea has gathered momentum and is often the starting point from which workplace strategies and office layouts are generated.

This new cost model, (download below) brings the story up to date.

IT and AV design

Without an IT infrastructure that enables people to share information and communicate wherever they are in the building, activity-based working may struggle to gain traction. Getting the audio-visual (AV) installation right is critical. Minor outages in support systems such as Wi-Fi or room booking systems may lead to a loss of faith in the workplace strategy.

Architectural impacts

Retrofitted staircases are becoming popular to encourage the vertical movement of people. These features will need structural works to form the openings, and can potentially require enclosure in fire-rated materials or the installation of smoke curtains.

Change management

A building alone will not change behaviour or drive productivity. Change management and employee engagement are essential for successful transition to activity-based working. Preparing people for the space is just as important as preparing the space for the people.

Procurement and construction

Fit-out contractors are frequently being asked to tender on a single-stage design and build basis, with risk being transferred to them. Clients need to understand the implications of this form of procurement for fit-out projects, which are fast moving and prone to change in line with business requirements.

Download our cost model here.