How to Manage Change During an Office Fit Out?

Whether you’ve been in your workspace for just a year or a couple of decades, there are always some improvements and upgrades that can refresh your environment. Ideally, your work environment ought to be configured in a way that fits your needs.

Think about the freedom and flexibility that an intelligent workspace layout can afford you and your employees. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, workers have become increasingly sensitive to their health, safety, and wellbeing at work to the extent that it affects their productivity.

Therefore, as you update your facilities, you must give thought to all these moving pieces if you want your fit-out project to be successful. That being said, there is another element to workspace reorganisation that you cannot afford to neglect-change management.

Why You Need A Fit Out Change Management Plan?
Changes to the workplace environment however small they are can potentially alter how teams are structured and how they collaborate. An aspect as simple as changing the spaces that employees occupy including the people they sit next to can have an impact on business processes and workflows.

If the fit-out project is massive, the scale of disruption will also be comparably larger hence the need for a solid change management plan. If not well structured, change management during a fit-out project can cause disconnection, resentment, and resistance among your employees.

To ensure a smooth transition, your change management plan must be underlined by good communication. Also having your plan in place well in advance and working with a people-friendly manager that employees can approach and air their concerns, will go a long way.

Change Management Tips to Ensure a Successful Fit Out Project
Are you planning an office fit-out and refurbishment project? Here are some tips to think through as you formulate your change management plan.

Communicate the Change to Employees
Since office fit-outs impact your employees’ working life, they must know what is happening. Explain to them honestly and openly why the fit-out change is necessary. The more straightforward your approach is, the lesser the suspicion among your employees.

Let them know how the change will affect their daily working lives as the project progresses. Try and pre-empt questions like, “ will there be a downsize after the fit-out exercise is complete?” “where will we work in the meantime?” You could suggest that some of them work from home or allocate them some temporal spaces during the refurb.

If you can, detail the whole fit-out change process. This will help them know what to expect or the actions they must take. Ensure there is enough time for them to digest the information to enable them to ask questions or raise concerns.

Anticipate and Lower Resistance to Change
Employees are humans and like all of us, we are creatures of habit. In the workplace, habits manifest in various ways including the spaces we occupy, how we work, how we interact with colleagues and so forth.

Work-related behaviours are inextricably linked to workspaces. When planning fit-outs, you must understand that some employees may have developed ownership of certain spaces over time and hence may be resistant to change.

Once you anticipate such resistance, it becomes much easier for you to plan that in and work towards reducing it. Again, communication is a vital ingredient as you take time to address employee concerns and outline before them the success criteria and outcome demands of the fit-out project.

Involve your Employees in the Fit-Out Design Process
It is not enough to keep employees in mind or brief them about the refurb process. You need to involve them and consult with them before you finalise the fit-out design. Remember these are the people who spend almost all their waking hours in the office hence they must have a say.

Get to know what motivates them and how they would like the new layout to be. Doing this not only minimises resistance to change but also makes the staff feel included and valued.

Put Together a Project Management Team
Planning an office fit-out process is involving and no one person can do it alone. For excellent coordination, you need to put together a team using the resources you already have at hand.

Get a project leader who has a clear vision of what the company is trying to achieve and make them the team leader. This person must also understand the unique needs of each department or division so that the change can be all-inclusive with no section left behind.

In addition to linking up with the rest of the employees, the project management team will also be instrumental in project monitoring and budget management. Let your project team be drawn from the different departments such as HR, marketing, IT, accounts and finance, and general administration. Such a team will ensure every functional unit is represented and will foster cohesiveness throughout the process.

Let Your Clients Know About the Fit-out
Depending on the type of business you run, you may need to let your clients know that you are doing an office fit-out. For instance, if you hold client meetings at your office, you may need to organise a temporal meeting venue and communicate the same to your clients until the fit-out project is completed. This will help prevent unnecessary disruption in your business processes and inconveniences to your clients.

Work with The Right Fit Out Team
After you put together your internal team and the structures necessary for a smooth fit-out process, you now need to look for a reliable and highly rated fit-out company. If you are doing an online search, don’t just jump in and pick the company that shows up first on the search engine results page.

Look for companies that have a portfolio and solid case studies that you can look at. In particular, look for commercial fit out companies that have done work in your specific sector. They will be much easier to work with and may even advise you on how to firm up your change management plan.

Ensure the company gives you a quote on the estimated project cost upfront and assure you that they will not only stick with the budget but also the agreed-upon timelines. Just to be sure, check that the company you are hiring has a team that is knowledgeable in matters of health and safety and that they are up to date with the various industry regulations.

Bottom Line
Having a workplace fit-out is arguably one of the best decisions that can transform your organisation. Fit-outs have been known to influence organisation culture, improve collaboration among employees, and increase productivity. However, this can only happen if you plan the project well.

There is the bit that the fit-out specialist contractor will do but you must also play your part as the client. Knowing how fit-outs can temporarily disrupt the working order and bring about a myriad of changes, it is upon you to come up with a change management plan. Let your employees know what to expect beforehand and what they will be required to do so that none of them is caught flat-footed.
Lastly, work with a reputable and dependable fit-out company that will guarantee you quality work and value for money.