‘Fit out’ is the process of making interior spaces suitable for occupation. In office developments, the type of fit out depends on the landlord’s needs, and those of the tenant or occupier and their workforce. As the way we work continues to evolve, landlords need to think creatively about the tenants they can attract, and invest in a workspace that fits the bill. We can help.

New ways of working

In the past businesses traditionally chose office locations based on proximity to clients, historical location, transport hubs, marketing impact or even the CEO’s commute. But location decisions have become far more complex. Facilitating agile and flexible working, and improving employee wellbeing, have moved far higher up the priority list particularly given the post Covid world. Reduced headcount and an increase in remote working means that many businesses are now rethinking their property portfolios and demanding different functions and efficiencies for their workspaces.

Background

Historically, office leases have been some of the most complex legal property documents – creating considerable time lags between making an offer, signing the lease, and tenants moving in, particularly in prestigious City Centre locations. In recent years, however, landlords, funds and investment firms have started adapting their approach. Dynamic, forward-thinking businesses refuse to accept 10 or 15-year leases and the obligations of their archaic legal documents. Early on, Regus-style offerings sprang up, where firms of any size could take furnished or unfurnished suites on short-term deals. This suited entrepreneurial start-ups, giving them the flexibility to expand or contract their workspace with the business. Next we saw Managed Offices, where a single operator would take care of all property, facilities, fit out and running costs for an occupier – for a monthly fee. More recently Plug and Play suites have grown in popularity, where – rather than just marketing space on a Cat A specification – landlords offer fully fitted and furnished suites on flexible terms. The Covid pandemic accelerated this change, and we’re now seeing a far more collaborative approach between landlords and their tenants.

The difference between Shell & Core, CAT A, CAT A+ and CAT B

Depending on the level of completion, and the occupant’s interior specification, there’s a range of fit-out categories to choose from – Shell and Core, CAT A, CAT A+, Plug and Play and CAT B. All are explained below. We’re highly experienced in all levels of fit out, so we can guide you through the decision-making process and even take care of the build – let’s talk.

Shell and Core

Shell and Core is the most basic condition in which to take space. It’s essentially a shell – a blank canvas without services (lights, air conditioning and so on) for the occupier and their fit-out partner to tailor as required.

Shell and Core usually comprises: the structure, cladding, base plant, completed common areas and external works. There may be main mechanical plant externally for a tenant to connect to, but this will be the tenant’s responsibility.

Sometimes the base-build perimeter walls will be plasterboard lined, taped and jointed, with windows and cills installed, but the occupier will be responsible for all other works. The responsibility of washrooms is generally decided on a site-by-site basis, depending on their access points (i.e. within office suite or communal).

Communal areas – which the landlord completes – will include:

● Reception(s)
● Lobbies
● Lifts
● Stairwells
● Loading bay

Why choose Shell and Core?

This category best suits businesses needing two or more large floorplates (a large floorplate being more than 1,500 sq m) that have bespoke layout or design requirements, or specifically need a highly cellular layout. Timing is fundamental to taking space in this condition. The building or refurbishment has to be at a point in which it is economically viable to pass control to a tenant.

The main benefits of Shell and Core for occupiers are:

1. The ability to totally craft the space to suit their needs.
2. Avoiding the cost of removing and altering landlord installations and fittings.
3. Faster access to site (subject to size of overall building and works elsewhere in the
building).
4. Wider scope of bespoke mechanical and electrical solutions.

The landlord may also make a capital contribution equivalent to the fit-out budget (with the
occupier subject to a dilapidations clause at the end of the lease term requiring the occupier to reinstate to an agreed Cat A design).

Category A fit out

A step up from Shell and Core, Cat A provides a fully functional but empty space complete with basic installations and mechanical and electrical services (lighting, fire detection, air con) in place. There are no fixtures, fittings, partitions or conference rooms – these would be added under the Category B fit out. With no pre-lets in mind, architects and mechanical consultants can create a design that maximises the lettable space, with mechanical and electrical specifications designed to a general average occupancy level (according to Building Control Regulations and/or British Council for Offices guidelines).

There’s no standard industry definition for a Category A fit out, but your fully customisable space will typically include:

● Suspended or exposed ceilings
● Recessed or suspended lighting
● Mains power distribution to each floor
● Raised access floors
● Fully lined and decorated perimeter walls
● Air conditioning
● Local distribution board in riser
● Basic fire detection and protection systems

The landlord or developer will often make a capital contribution towards floor coverings and floor boxes.

Category A+ to Plug and Play

This is a relatively new concept but demand is growing. It bridges the gap between Cat A and Cat B fit out. To make vacant office suites more attractive to potential occupiers, landlords may consider carrying out some aspects of the fit out, such as a tea point, boardroom, Comms Room with full field data cabling etc all the way through to potentially fully fitting out and furnishing a suite. Either way this enables landlords to let their space quickly, and tenants who want quick occupation with some or all the facilities ready to go.

If the landlord decides that Plug and Play is the way to go, design is key, particularly in the post Covid return to work. The office workforce have higher expectations than ever before, partly thanks to the explosion of shared community workspaces offering practical design features, layouts that facilitate flexible working and collaboration. But post Covid people want a fresh, modern aesthetic with an emphasis on wellbeing and a residential influence to the design.

Entrepreneurial start-ups want somewhere modern, agile and tech-savvy that they can occupy quickly, with space to grow. A hassle-free, ready-to-occupy workspace in an attractive new environment that’s exclusively theirs, avoiding the need to share common areas with multiple companies.

We’re adept at helping landlords secure profitable occupiers fast, in the face of strong competition – by creating visually impressive, flexible and functional Cat A+ Plug and Play offices ready for immediate use. Get in touch.

Category B fit out

This is where the space is fully fitted out and tailored to the tenant by the tenant. A bespoke design will include corporate identity, communications, technology, departmental layouts, client experience elements and staff facilities such as well-being, break out spaces etc.

Physical elements include:
● Partitioning (glazed, solid or bespoke)
● Joinery (typically around Reception, the tea point/kitchen, and meeting areas)
● Door and floor finishes
● Meeting and conference rooms
● Workstations
● Breakout areas
● IT & Audio visual equipment
● Specialist lighting
● Alterations to the Cat A mechanical systems (to suit occupier layout)
● Furniture
● Branding such as signage, specialist finishes, frosted glass, and vinyl graphics
● Acoustic treatments and biophilia (to enhance wellbeing)

Next steps

We specialise in creating workplaces that people want to spend time in. So whether you’re looking for a new space, keen to transform your current workplace, or you need to attract quality tenants fast, we can help. We’re experts in workplace transformation and we want to help you create a space where everyone can thrive.

Take a look at some of our recent projects.

We help tenants find or build suitable workspaces based on in-depth knowledge and workplace assessments.

We help landlords create competitive workspaces that attract quality tenants.

With decades of experience in workplace design and build, refurbishment, renovation and fit out, we provide expert help with:

Workplace consultancy
● Space planning and rationalisation
● Interior design
● Designing for flexible working
Wellbeing at work
● Lease and purchase of real estate
● Sub-division and grey space
● Clean air and sustainable heating/cooling solutions
● Dilapidation and refurbishment
● Renovate vs relocate

Get in touch

Tied into a lease but have surplus workspace? Subletting could be the answer.

Businesses have been moving towards more agile, flexible and hybrid working for the past 10 years, but the events of 2020 accelerated the change. A steep increase in homeworking and remote working has led to lower office occupancy levels across the UK, and means that many businesses now have surplus floorspace on their hands.

According to Management Today, 1 in 10 companies reduced their office space in 2020, and another 36% were considering it as we entered 2021.

Subletting provides a valuable way to rationalise excess office space and increase the profitability of your investment, if you’re not nearing the end of your lease period.

Grey space

Sometimes referred to as grey space or tenant space, sublet office accommodation reduces the business’s lease liability. The original tenant business remains liable, but shares the cost of the excess space until the lease expires.

The rise of co-working premises means that an increasing number of businesses have adapted to and now embrace sharing workspaces with other firms. This setup improves networking opportunities, and the business that signs up for the sublet can move in immediately, avoiding fit-out and infrastructure costs.

Subletting grey space also provides an effective solution for businesses that are in flux, and unable to predict their long-term staffing or space requirements. If you’re not ready to commit to downsizing, subletting excess office space gives you more flexibility for future growth.

Can I sublet office space?

Before subletting office space, your first consideration must be your contractual obligations. Check your lease to ensure there are no clauses preventing subletting. In most cases, you’ll need to gain consent from the landlord as a minimum and s/he may impose conditions.

Secondly – have you completed a thorough needs assessment? It’s critical to review how you currently use your office space to calculate how much excess you truly have. Is it aligned with the way your business now works, and the company strategy? Have you forecast your staffing and space requirements for the year ahead? We’re experts in space planning and rationalisation. We can help you look at the way your business and its staff now operate and how they use workspaces – informed decision-making backed by decades of experience. Get in touch.

Where to start

Consider all the options and think creatively about different ways of working. Could you share time, rather than space, for example?

Timesharing

Rather than subletting a fixed area of office space, timesharing is where two or more businesses share the same workspace, but use it on different days of the week. This can work particularly well for firms with a high proportion of remote-working staff, and potentially provides a considerable cost saving.

Refitting and upgrading

Regardless of who you want to sublet to, and on what basis, you need to ensure the space is attractive, functional and effective. Competition is fierce. Since March 2020, there’s been a huge increase in the amount of grey space on the market – particularly within cities – as Covid-19 changed the way we work.

Remote working has increased and headcount in some areas has reduced, but the office still has a crucial role to play. While many now enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working from home – and the time and money saved on commuting – isolation, productivity and mental health must be considered. And the invaluable opportunities that come from collaborating in person.

There’s no substitute for face-to-face contact and in-person communication, so the office will never become obsolete. Its role is merely changing.

Space requirements have naturally reduced, so an increasing number of firms are looking to sublet. You need to ensure your workspace can compete – and we’d love to help you.

How to attract tenants

We want to help your business thrive. With more choice than ever before, tenants’ expectations are higher. Anyone wishing to downsize and considering a move into sublet space will not accept a downgrade in quality of facilities and interiors. We’ll help you complete a professional fit-out that will accommodate your own business needs and attract the right tenants. We know how to help our clients create effective, high-quality workspaces that people want to spend time in. Find out more.

We have decades of experience in helping firms rationalise their space, maximise their property portfolio and attract quality tenants. We specialise in interiors that promote and enable flexible working and prioritise wellbeing – spaces that ensure you, your staff and your tenants all thrive.

Next steps

Businesses must adapt to survive, and now is the perfect time to review and rationalise your workspace requirements. After the 2008 recession, subletting skyrocketed. So if you’re ready to get the ball rolling, get in touch – we’d love to help.

If your office walls are painted dull grey, the cold colour of warships, concrete and cubicles – it’s time for a makeover.

Office décor is more important than many people think. Our surroundings have a huge impact on our mood and productivity. With simple changes, it is possible to boost creativity and productivity.

Low-wavelength colours, like restful green and calming blue – two of the most common colours in Mother Nature’s palette improve efficiency and focus. They also lend an overall sense of wellbeing. Bottom line: If you want happier, more effective workers, green and blue are wise choices.

Meanwhile, mellow yellow, often viewed by colour psychologists as the shade of optimism, is energetic and fresh. It is believed to trigger innovation and is best used in work environments where artists, writers, designers, developers and other creative professionals work.

Red, a high-wavelength colour, is active, intense and alarming at times. The passion inspiring colour increases the heart rate and blood flow upon sight. If there’s something in the office you want to urgently draw employees’ eyes to, it’s best to paint it red.

Wall art and murals are a good way to add some more of these inspirational and energising colours to your office décor more subtly than painting every wall. Consider using big, bold wall stickers or murals in selected colours in different areas and break out points of the office to inspire your staff.

Naturally, wall art pieces are also a sophisticated way to communicate your brand identity, messages and ethos to employees and visitors. These will remind them about the real reasons why you are doing what you are doing and show your customers what your business is all about.

Providing wall art or murals in breakout areas, will also allow your staff to take a moment and escape the busy office environment. Long days at the office can easily get quite draining. These pieces can instantly lift the mood and subtly provide a change of scenery; whilst re-energising your staff.

For help and advice in transforming your workspace environments through innovative and engaging designs contact us today.

Breakout Space Design has now become a key element of office design schemes.

A break-out area describes any space open to employees or visitors that is separate from their usual working area. It can be a place for employees to relax, eat their lunch and even hold informal meetings. Giving employees a break from a computer screen also complies with health and safety laws which require staff to take frequent breaks from their work stations when computers are being used.

Companies can sometimes see a break-out area as an unnecessary, but employers should consider the benefits and how this will impact on the company’s performance before ruling them out. The fact is that, with the right technology and environment, a breakout space can become an invaluable work area.

It has been found that meetings conducted in a more informal environment are more productive for brainstorming and idea generation. There are many new designs for multi-functional breakout area furniture such as Media Benches which enables you to connect your laptop and share information at the touch of a button.

Features to consider when designing your areas:–

Something Big 06Keep noise levels to a minimum: One of the most important things to bear in mind is to keep the break area away from the regular buzz of the office.

Chairs: Consider investing in some comfortable sofas or chairs. A comfortable sofa is the best place to unwind or bean bags and pod seating can provide a change from the standard chair. There are lots of funky new designs around.

Colours & textures: Choose a colour scheme that is designed to encourage relaxation and minimise stress. Light blue and pale green are good choices or yellows. Textures/ living walls can also bring a slice of nature indoors.

Lighting: Keep the break area well-lit. If you don’t have a window, use ergonomic lighting to provide adequate lighting to brighten up the place.

Kitchen: Place your kitchen close to the break area. This will give your employees or visitors somewhere to make tea and coffee so they can relax and chat while away from their work. You could also add a bar feature for a more relaxed atmosphere.

Before embarking on designing your breakout area, you might like to consider:

How will the breakout areas be utilised?
How regularly will the breakout areas be used?
What are the barriers / incentives to using certain breakout areas?
How will the breakout areas impact on the adjacent areas?
To create an amazing break out area in your office refurbishment – contact us today

Office furniture has come a long way over recent years. In the past, the selection of items on offer was relatively limited. In contrast, today there is now a wealth of products available, allowing you to be much choosier when you’re fitting out your workspace with desks, chairs and other objects.

Like the furniture in our homes, office furniture should be reflective of your company’s personality, image and brand. For example, contemporary, vibrant and fashionable office furniture is likely to ‘work well’ in a trendy, new creative agency. Alternatively, if you want to highlight your firm’s traditional, professional approach, more conventional furnishings may be more suitable. Leather chairs and wooden desks lend themselves particularly well to this image.

When selecting furniture it is also important to ensure it is comfortable and practical. Spending eight hours or more a day sat on an uncomfortable chair, with a laptop balancing precariously on a worktop that’s small, unstable and cluttered, is hardly conductive with productiveness. It’s long been established that the right office furniture plays a central role in boosting employee productivity.

Offices are natural generators of hordes and hordes of paperwork and as a consequence require somewhere to store massing amounts of filing. When choosing office furniture it is therefore important to consider storage. For example, a desk with drawers attached might be preferable to a desk without any storage.

Consider the shades of your furnishings carefully too. Ideally, you should select items that showcase your corporate colours. This will help to drive home your brand message and leave people in no doubt as to which firm’s offices they are in.

It’s especially important to use your official colours in your reception area, as this is the first thing visitors see when they enter your premises. Fortunately, it’s now easy to buy reception seating and desks in a whole host of colours, so you should be able to find the ideal versions for your office.

Different types of lighting can also enhance your corporate branding and choices of colours. Layers of soft warm light can complement the fresh palettes of natural hues, highlighting textures and the rich walnut timbers. Alternatively, a combination of spotlights can be used to highlight specific furniture pieces or oversize industrial-sized pendants to provide ambient and accent lighting. Lighting controls can also provide different lighting scenes for the spaces.

Remember to bear in mind if your office does not have many windows and is absent of natural light, lighting can play an important role in creating a comfortable, light and spacious environment. Linking artificial lighting cleverly with the natural daylight can ensure optimum lighting conditions whilst minimising energy consumption.

With health, well-being and productivity now big considerations for workplace lighting, it is important to get the balance right for your employees. Intense blue-rich light in the morning or at times when you want people to be alert, and warmer, softer light in the afternoon and evening when things are winding down. This mimics the change in the characteristics of sunlight through the day and makes sure our body clocks keep ticking at the right speed. In settings where people are working, learning, or undergoing medical treatment, this is essential.

Finding furniture & lighting that reflect your brand may take a little extra time and effort, but it’s well worth it.

Contact us today to view our full portfolio of furnishings.

Office partitioning walls have changed considerable over the years. Office walls used to be built using timber studs with plaster boards nailed on and then finished with plaster. It was not possible to relocate the office walls with this partitioning system as they had to be dismantled by breaking the plaster boards off the stud work. This was not only time-consuming but extremely messy within your office.

Today’s office wall dividers are totally different and can be easily & cleanly taken down and relocated within your building at any time. They now come in many styles, colours and finishes depending on your requirements and budget.

If you are looking for visibility between the offices, think about glass partitioning. There are many options ranging from the framed aluminium systems to the stylish frameless glass walls. Our demountable and re-locatable partitions are a cost-effective solution to the division of space in office environments.

Frameless glass walls offers full visibility within the office, are stylish and modern looking, and you can apply a frosting to the glass in any style or colour to suit your company logo / image.

If you are looking for total privacy between the offices and a reduction in noise, you might like to consider operable or storage walls. Operable walls can be solid or single / double-glazed modules and are available in a variety of finishes from a wood to PVC. Storage walls are a cost-effective solution that offer high capacity storage as well as division of space and privacy as full height storage units can be used as a partition to separate a room.

Whether you’re looking to maximise your space, reduce noise or create greater privacy, Crown Interiors offer a comprehensive range of cost-effective partitioning systems to create attractive, practical space for your working environments.

We are going through a workplace crisis with stress reaching epic proportions. Just under a fifth of Britons suffer from anxiety or depression and with the stuttering economy, lack of job security is causing extra pressure to perform – resulting in our physical health suffering.

The way the interior of an office is configured has a profound impact on concentration, collaboration, confidentiality and creativity – and can therefore either enable, or limit, productivity. It can also have a very direct impact on health and wellbeing, which in turn also impacts productivity.

Making an office work for your employees isn’t rocket science – good office layout, natural light, well-monitored temperature, good facilities, etc – even the smallest changes show you value your people and their wellbeing.

When planning your interior layout, take into account workstation density; task based spaces, breakout spaces, social features and create an active design. An innovative and healthy active design means thinking about encouraging movement, getting people out of their chairs and around the office, bumping into colleagues to share thoughts and release built up stress. It means creating an environment that stimulates people and responds to who they are.

Something Big 06Effective break-out areas are an ideal way to achieve this. Not only do they provide the right environment for your works to relax away from their desks but it has also been found that meetings conducted in a more informal environment are more productive for brainstorming and idea generation.

Changing your workplace with new offices or refurbishment projects, will encourage new ways of working. Embracing this early will not only benefit your company in the long run financially but also ensure you have a healthy, happy workforce.

People can spend close to 90% of their time indoors and can spend about a third of their waking hours at their workplace. Is it any wonder then that our physical or mental health is greatly affected by the aspects of our workplace?

If working conditions are undesirable the result can mean lower work performance, increased error rates, injuries and absences. However, just the opposite can occur with a well-designed workplace. More often or not, when planning office designs, it generally focuses on the physical effects of the workers and not how it affects the well-being of the workers.

Employee health is directly linked to employee productivity and as we well know employee productivity directly relates to your bottom line. So it is in your best interests to design your office space that takes into account way of improving your employees’ health.

There are four main areas to consider that could increase employee well-being and benefit employees with certain mental health problems:

Social relations:- personal space. The amount and type of personal space within an office environment can encourage or discourage social interaction between employees. The physical layout and furnishings will have a significant impact on their personal space.

It is there worth taking into consideration when designing your office layout; that when employees have the ability to control their privacy, the adverse effects of other workplace stressors are reduced. Make office allocations that are mindful of the personal needs of the individuals, especially those with mental health problems, and balance that with the needs for group/team interaction. Don’t overcrowd open plan areas and create effective breakout areas for staff to relax in.

Attention Focus:- People can be easily distracted and some may have difficulty staying on task. For employees in whom maintaining attention is a challenge, it is worth considering enclosed offices or for open plan office designs, increasing panel heights and providing other distraction reducing elements such a sound masking and sound absorbing materials.

living wallStress Reduction:- Stress is something every person feels and experiences to some degree every day. A beneficial workplace feature that has been shown to reduce stress and help people recover from stressful situations is windows. Viewing nature, whether through a window, living wall or images (pictures) can also help to reduce stress. Consider prioritising offices near or with windows to those employees who have stress-related health problems and/or whose work is very stressful.

Photobiology (Seasonal Mood Disorder) is people who suffer mood changes due to insufficient exposure to sunlight. By providing adequate light within the workplace may have mental health benefits for even non-clinically diagnosed people.

Remember to bear in mind if your office does not have many windows and is absent of natural light, lighting can play an important role in creating a comfortable, light and spacious environment. Linking artificial lighting cleverly with the natural daylight can ensure optimum lighting conditions whilst minimising energy consumption.

In summary, there is no question that the design of your workplace has an impact on the people who work in that space. When designing your office remember to consider not only the physical impacts but also the mental health aspects.

A recent analysis from the World Green Building Council concluded that there is “overwhelming evidence” linking office design with productivity and wellness.

A recent poll showed that over 80% of workers around the world are less than satisfied with their current work environments, primarily due to a lack of privacy. Open plan offices are great for facilitating collaboration and transparency, but can also make privacy and focus a real challenge for today’s workers.

Not so long ago, it was fashionable to have open planned offices as it provided companies with cost savings, increased employee contact, and better accountability. However, there is mounting evidence that the noise generated by these arrangements distracts up to a third of the workforce and has other negative associations like increasing the amount of sick leave employees take.

An office refit could be the answer, but before you start repainting and refurnishing, think carefully about how you want to design your space, and whether it’s conducive to the company culture you want to promote. Seek advice from an office fit-out company to ensure you optimise your future design plans.

Look at the size of your company and the roles of your employees to pick a layout that works for you. For example, if your employees spend the majority of their time on the phone, then an open plan environment might not be the best option for you. But if you’re part of a creative team that constantly works together and bounces ideas off each other, an open plan could work and allow your employees to interact with ease.

If you currently have an open plan office, partitioning could be an immediate solution. There are comprehensives ranges of partitioning systems that can create attractive, practical space for your working environments. Frameless glass partitions offer an open plan feel whilst creating beautifully designed individual work stations/ meeting spaces. These can be installed quickly and simply with minimal disruption to your day to day business.

Also bear in mind your colour schemes, as different colours can have different psychological effects, and can impact the way people think or feel on a subconscious level. Knowing this, it is possible to influence your employees by using the right colours in your office design.

Well-designed offices can increase your productivity by about 20% and significantly increase your workers wellness and mental health.