05 February 2020

Small Ways to Refresh an Office That Make a Big Difference

By: Nick Vanek

As a company’s workforce grows and changes, their office needs shift. There are many options to refresh/modernize and accommodate growth between major office renovations. These can be completed with minimal disruption to employees’ everyday work and can increase productivity in the long run. Depending on the specific goals of the company, there are a few ways to make a big difference in the space. The focus can be on updating high-traffic common areas, creating new flexible spaces and upgrading finishes.

Updating High-Traffic Common Areas

Highly-trafficked areas, such as pantries and reception areas are keys to the first-impression of an office and are some of the first to be affected when a company starts to grow. Updating a pantry can create a more effective office flow, which results in an improved work environment for employees. Adding additional appliances and updating cabinets or a backsplash can often be completed without major re-work of the current MEP systems. Additionally, updating a reception area between major build-outs is a great way to increase the ‘curb appeal’ of the overall office and welcome clients or visitors to a fresh, modern space. A reception area can be quickly refreshed with new flooring and paint, updated furniture, decorative lighting and new signage or branding. An average-sized reception area or pantry could be fully refreshed during off-hours in under a month.

Collaboration/Flexible Spaces

If a company is growing but isn’t ready to add more space or move offices, they will need to consider options to adjust their space to make it more functional and flexible. Existing private offices can be converted into a conference room or vice versa, or either of these spaces can be converted into more room for workstations. In addition to these types of quick conversions, companies can opt for multi-functional areas such as benching stations where employees can quickly plug-in and work. Other flexible space options include collaboration spaces and lounge areas where employees can have informal meetings or set up to work for the day. These spaces can accommodate different scenarios such as quick meetings or larger gatherings/client entertaining.

Material/Finish Upgrades

If the functionality of a space is not an issue, but the office is outdated, updating the finishes throughout can refresh and modernize a space. Many offices have 2×2 ceiling tiles that yellow over time. If this is the case, these tiles can easily be swapped with fresh white tiles in an existing grid system, which drastically brightens a space. Another way to brighten a space is to swap harsh down-lights with soft LED lights or install hanging linear pendants with soft up-lighting. Like many refreshes, this work can be completed within the existing electrical conditions. Lastly, the most common materials to upgrade are the carpet and paint. These updates make a space look much newer and cleaner and the work can occur around existing furniture with minimal disruption to daily functions.

With companies putting an increasing emphasis on their employee’s happiness at work, it is important to realize how large of a role their environment plays. These time-efficient ways to refresh a space make a large difference, and they can be easily coordinated with a general contractor to minimize impact to employees during construction and maximize the benefits after.

About the Author

Nick Vanek is currently a Project Manager at Clune Construction and has been with the company for 4 years. Nick started as an intern in 2015, and is part of Clune’s service group that specializes in office refreshes and conversions with minimal interruption to daily work. He is originally from the west Chicago suburbs and currently lives in Lincoln Park where he enjoys being close to Wrigley Field and a Driving Range.

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