Category: Fit Out

FIS Accredited Members

It’s about Quality: We are proud Members of FIS

 

Meridian Interiors are proud to be accredited members of FIS, the trade body of the £10 billion fit out, finishes and interiors sector.

 

 

 

FIS represents specialists in all aspects of the interior fit-out and finishes sector. As a vertically integrated organisation, FIS works with members from across the sector supply chain support best practice knowledge exchange, drive technical competence and support quality, through the FIS Product Process People Quality Framework.

 

FIS is a not-for-profit community, built around a strict code of conduct – members are subjected to regular ongoing vetting.

 

At Meridian Interiors, as specialists in commercial fit out and office refurbishment, we are advocates of producing high quality office installations, and are proud to be members of this dynamic and proactive community that is focused on delivering a better construction experience for all involved.

 

      4 coloured circles with words on top      Plans on table

 

Paul Dawson, Managing Director, said: “FIS is a highly-regarded, well-respected organisation at the forefront of the sector that does much to uphold values and drive quality in our sector. We are delighted to be recognised as member of an organisation which is an essential component of the modern-day construction industry.”

 

Meridian exist to make our clients’ working life comfortable, achieving this by listening to and understanding the human side of their business. Teaming up with the FIS has cemented our commitment to our clients to uphold quality throughout the process, from design and space planning, through the quality in materials and workmanship, to the project management and consultation throughout the project.

 

Please contact us if you would like more information or guidance on your next project.

You can email us on info@meridian-interiors.co.uk or call 0333 3448 772 today.

Office Refurbishment Checklist

Read our office refurbishment checklist from the experts at Meridian Interiors.

Investing in your workspace is a positive way to update working practices within your organisation, boost staff morale and express your company’s brand. This guide walks you through the path involved in the office fit-out and refurbishment process, so you are well informed for your next office refit.  

The Office Refurbishment Process

Deciding when to carry out an office refurb is a good place to start because it is a very involved process, so you need to have the time and dedication to commit to it. Utilising the skills of your own staff (IT, Facilities Management, Office Managers), coupled with an experienced office refurbishment and fit-out company, like Meridian Interiors can help the process run smoothly, ensuring important elements are not missed.   

Stages of Office Refurbishment

There are a series of stages to work through to design, plan and implement a new office refurbishment. Even though the size, scale and cost can vary dramatically between projects, the process remains very similar.

Consultation

When you decide to carry out an office refurb, the first stage is referred to as the consultation stage. It is at this stage that initial conversations are had to establish what the goals are for the build, and how that will influence the design and planning stage.

At Meridian Interiors we focus on four fundamental concepts: Listening, Understanding, Creating and Delivering.  

During the ‘Consultation phase’, office refurbishment companies will strive to take your vision and turn it into a reality.  A workplace evaluation is paramount at this stage, where key people from your organisation set out the project parameters and review your main project objectives. Whether it be owners, managers of SMEs, facilities managers, maintenance teams, IT, finance, sales and marketing or operations managers, this is the first key step to ‘listening’​ to your needs.

Design and development

Following the consultation and having defined your needs, the design and development of the project will need to be established using the framework below:

  • Headline Project Objectives
  • Team synergy in your organisation
  • Employee Habits & Wellbeing
  • Your Brand Themes
  • How the current space is utilised & performs
  • Requirements for expansion/future proofing

Analysis of these factors can then be used to determine what options and solutions your company can use to create the best possible working environment for stakeholders.

Planning

During the planning phase, it is important to understand how the budget can be used to achieve the desired result.

As planning a project is very involved, using both 2D and 3D drawings, can help shape the interior refurbishment and ensure all parties are on the same wavelength, after all a picture speaks a thousand words!

Build

Once the design and plans have been agreed, ‘creating’ and ‘delivering’ are the next steps.

Have a programme of works in place with your chosen office refurbishment company will help the project to stay on track. Regular meetings between stakeholders are important to ensure the project is built accordingly to plans and change management can be implemented, where necessary.

The final project needs to run according to the planned budget and therefore having a project manager, to control costs and lead times, is imperative to achieving an office refurbishment that fulfils the brief.

Office Refurbishment Solutions and Options

For an office interior refurbishment to be successful, changes and improvements to the areas discussed below are paramount. Office refurbishments can vary in scale, so you may be looking to change only one or two of these items, to establish a better working environment. Or you may be looking to make significant changes and incorporate all these items within your new scheme.

Suspended Ceilings

Many offices have suspended ceilings because they are a practical way to hide ductwork, cabling and pipework.

A suspended ceiling is made up of a grid system, which is suspended on wires, with ceiling tiles and light fittings fitted within the frame. A lighting design is recommended to ensure the correct lux level is achieved throughout the space.

Suspended ceilings make maintenance for air conditioning, power and lighting accessible and are therefore a practical addition to an office.

Lighting

The infrastructure behind a great office space needs to be well thought out and planned as part of the design process. Power, lighting, plumbing and HVAC systems are the elements of a design that make the aesthetics work.

As described in HSE’s Lighting at Work report, poor lighting at work can represent a significant cost to business in the form of:

  • Time off work because of accidents and injuries
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Reduced staff efficiency and productivity

Getting it right is therefore paramount for the health, well-being and productivity of employees.

Having a lighting design created for your specific layout is a useful design tool, both to ensure the correct aesthetics of the refurbishment and the practicalities of having the correct lighting in the right areas. For example, you may need specific task lighting for carrying out detailed work, more relaxed lighting in a breakout area or feature lighting to make an impact in a reception area.  

Decorating

Decorating your workspace is an easy way of refreshing the space, without the need for a big budget. There is a seemingly endless range of wall coverings, paint colours and wall tiles. Using Meridian’s expertise in commercial office design, can help you to realise your ideas. It may be as simple as bringing in the colours from your company’s brand or selecting a style and colour you like!

As part of a larger project, decoration can form an integral element of the overall aesthetics of the office interior design and with a little creativity and inspiration, you can create a ‘wow’ factor or point of difference, setting your business apart from the competition.

Partitioning

Partitioning needs to be considered to create a fully flexible working office, as it offers privacy, better acoustics, meeting rooms, departmental layout, and safety, while offering enough personal space for workers to feel individually valued and productive. 

Meridian can provide many different types of partitioning systems for the modern office or industrial environment.

  • Drywall Systems
  • Jumbo Stud Partitions
  • Industrial Steel Partitioning
  • Fully Glazed Partitioning Systems

Glazing

Glazing, used in partitioning, has the added benefit of allowing light to flow throughout the office.

Natural lighting in an office is incredibly important. Employees will favour natural light for its many properties, as discussed in this article: Must-Have Office Features Employees Will Love.

We discussed how incorporating as much natural light into an area as possible and positioning workstations evenly throughout the area can be beneficial to employee’s well-being.  A 2018 Harvard Business Review reports a study concluding that workers in daylight office environments reported a 51% drop in the incidence of eyestrain, a 63% drop in the incidence of headaches and a 56% reduction in drowsiness.

Flooring

Flooring is so versatile and a great way of zoning a space, without the need for partitioning it physically.  Different types of flooring with varying textures, patterns and colours can make a big impact to an office refurbishment.

There is suitable flooring for every budget, use and colour scheme, making it a great way to freshen up an office space, re-purpose an area or adding an injection of colour or branding.

Breakout Areas

As a focal point within a workspace, a place where employees can interact socially, have drinks, have some lunch or catch up for an informal meeting, we believe the provision of a well-designed kitchen and breakout area, is essential in any workplace.

The space available will help with the design process, along with creative input from an office fit-out specialist and the analysis of how employees would like to use the space.

Top TipRead our blog: Ideas for your breakout area

If you would like to discuss your next office refurbishment, Meridian Interiors are celebrating 20 years of experience this year and enjoy helping clients design and plan their office schemes.

Office Refurbishment Checklist

An office refurbishment can completely revitalise your office space, and transform your workplace into a modern, stylish space that employees can enjoy. With regular studies finding that increased employee happiness links strongly to productivity, it’s no wonder that an inviting office space is on many employees’ wish lists. After all, if you spend so much time at work, why wouldn’t you want to invest in an office space that ticks all the boxes?

Step 1.

Identify your needs and objectives. This should be the easy part! Ask yourself, why do you want to refurbish your office? What do you want to gain from your office space?

These are simple enough questions, but they can help you finalise a goal from your office revamp, so you don’t go off track along the way, which is far easier to do than you might think.

Consider these points below…

Expansion: Do you need to create more room?
Facilities: Do these need to be upgraded?
Workplace environment: Is your reason for wanting to create a nicer place for your employees to improve wellbeing, or to improve productivity?
Legislation: Do you need your space to meet new government guidelines or /legislation?

Step 2.

Identify who needs to be involved in the project.

This includes company members and external companies. Depending on the size and scope of the refurb, you may find yourself liaising with additional companies, for example, if you are upgrading your company logos or signage, you’ll likely need to find a supplier and work with them on the design.

Company members: How will your team members and employees be involved with the project? Will they be involved directly or indirectly? Consider all departments from your financial team to human resources and management to marketing. They will all have an important input.

External companies: Employee unions and regulators, external professional services involved will need to be considered.

Step 3.

Talk to your Landlord
It is important that you keep your landlord fully up to date with any plans you have to refurbish your space and that they have given you permission to make those changes.

TOP TIP: Remember, you may need to obtain a ‘License to Alter’. This ensures the landlord is aware of all changes so an accurate and detailed Alter can be drawn up.

Step 4

Choose a reputable office design and refurbishment company.

It is important to choose a reputable company to work with, things to look out for are their reputation, experience, and previous projects.

Step 5

Initial consultation

Headline Project Objectives: To stay organised it is important to set objectives to ensure all parties involved are aware of the timeline and project outcomes.

● Team synergy in your organisation: Create an environment that allows a team. to come together and collaborate, plan spaces that inspire synergy.

Employee Habits & Wellbeing: Your team spends 8 hours a day in the office. . Create a space where their well-being is boosted and create places within these. spaces that incorporate healthy habits.

Your Brand Themes: Allow your team to live and breathe the brand they work for by using the themes of your brand within your business.

How the current space is utilised & performs: Understand what is already working and what isn’t. Speak to your team, spend a day in different areas of your office to understand the dynamics.

Step 6

Identify your budget vs expenses of the project you want to carry out.

Get quotes on every aspect of the project and understand your budget. The project will include expenses and fees from transactional fees to planning permission to contingency costs. Prepare for these as early as possible by budgeting as early as possible.

Step 7

Identify when the best time to start your project is.

You’ll ideally want to avoid disruption as much as possible to day-to-day productivity in the office. Obviously, some disruption is expected, but you can plan this well to avoid it colliding with a busy time of year, for example.

When is your quietest time of year? When can you fit this in when it will not affect day-to-day operations too much, can your team remote work during this? Also, consider the environment around your office.

Step 8.

Design considerations

2D and 3D drawings: Consider the best designs using both 2D and 3D drawings to understand the use of space. This will help the refurbishment company to thoroughly understand your vision.

Interior design: The design, branding, and colours will feed into all aspects of the refurbishment and design, and these should be considered during the design process.

Furniture: If you are planning on keeping your current furniture or planning on buying new, ensure to plan your purchases around the design. Furniture is very important to the look of your new refurbishment.

Lighting: Positioning of your lighting will affect the look of your design and your employee’s work life. This is also a health consideration.

Glazing: To allow appropriate lighting and to conserve heat, whilst blocking out sound from the outside. Work with your refurbishment company to choose the most appropriate glazing.

Flooring: Appropriate flooring will complete the look of an office and ensure a safe place for employees to walk around on.

Storage: A new space allows for new storage solutions; correct planning will allow you to take advantage of all new storage opportunities. Storage whilst your refurbishment takes place is also essential to store your equipment and office suppliers.

DDA Compliance: It is important to comply with DDA, the law requires you to consider the needs of current and future employees.

Please contact us if you would like our guidance.  You can email us on info@meridian-interiors.co.uk or ring 0333 3448 772 today. 

Ideas for your Office Breakout Area

Investing in your workspace matters to your staff and can impact the success of your overall company. One important space to consider for your office is an office breakout area.

Our article will explore why you should consider the merits of a breakout space within your workplace, including:

  • What is an office breakout area?
  • What to include in an office breakout area?
  • Office breakout area ideas
  • Office breakout area furniture

A 2019 report carried out by Staples found that 68% of staff would feel more valued at work if their organisation invested in their workspace, and as Paul Zollinger-Read, former Bupa Chief Medical Officer so nicely put it “as individual happiness is linked to productivity, satisfaction, and fulfilment – why wouldn’t we invest in our spaces?”

What is an office breakout area?

An office breakout area is an area for employees to take a break from their desks and screen. Within the modern working environment, where much more of our time is spent in front of a screen, it is important for employers to not only provide a breakout area for staff but to encourage its use.  

These areas can be versatile and used to not only provide a space for staff to enjoy their lunch (the more traditional reason for creating a breakout space). Office breakout areas also create:

  • Informal meeting areas
  • Space where people can catch up on their personal ‘life admin’
  • An area to socialise with colleagues around a tea-point
  • A place to rest their eyes from the screen!

By providing a space that is more relaxed, it gives employees time for rest and rejuvenation throughout the day. Breaks like this are important, as employees can return to their desks revitalised and raring to go. Such breaks in the day can result in better productivity compared to an office where employees never leave their desks!

These areas can also function as an alternative workspace for tasks that require collaborative or creative thinking.  Sitting in a more relaxed environment alone or with a colleague, in a separate space away from general office noise, can be beneficial when brainstorming new ideas of having important discussions.

What to include in an office breakout area?

Due to the versatility of these spaces, it is important to consider the office breakout area design so it caters to everybody and works with the existing office.

The available space for your breakout area will depend on the size of your business premises and the number of staff you have. With developments in acoustic screening and pods, you will not need a huge space, particularly if you are an SME employer. The use of acoustic furniture is an ideal way of creating small breakout spaces in pockets around your offices. Pods or booths, as featured below can offer an area where several colleagues can meet, shutting out the background noise.

The acoustic winged chairs used in The Parks Trust atrium in Milton Keynes are a brilliant way of providing relaxing seating, that when you sit back, the cleverly developed wings help block out background noises.

Depending on how you want staff to use the breakout spaces will determine what you should include. As well as the acoustic seating options above, if you have the luxury of a separate room or space for your breakout area, creating different zones could be an option for you.

Office breakout area checklist

  • A tea-point or kitchen facility
  • Fuctional seating with table for either eating or meetings
  • Relaxed seating
  • One to one booths
  • Quiet working areas
  • Social Areas
  • A library
  • Charging areas (ports for technology devices)
  • Games/Chillout space

The ‘comparehemarket.com’ common room has a putting green in it to help staff relax on their break.

Office breakout area ideas

In order to transform an office space and improve employee wellbeing, morale and productivity, we have put together some office breakout area ideas from previous client projects. This small selection illustrates the different look and feel that can be created within a breakout area.

Elements that can be incorporated within these breakout spaces are outlined below.

Glass partitioning

To provide an element of separation, but to ensure light flows into the breakout space, using glass partitioning can form an attractive and practical solution.

Company branding

The breakout area can be a place to have some fun with the company branding, incorporating colour into furniture, soft furnishings and paint finishes.

Recharge rooms

Creating a sanctuary of calm among a vibrant and busy office can provide an area for staff to recharge their batteries and take a break.

Lounge area

You may find in a larger company that a lot of staff go off-site for lunch, to either a coffee shop or sandwich bar. If space allows, creating a lounge area with a coffee shop vibe can encourage staff to socialise with each other during their downtime, form better working relationships with colleagues.

Pods

These self-contained areas for smaller offices, can provide a private area to carry out work in peace, make a sensitive phone call or have a meeting with a colleague.

Office Breakout Area Furniture

Selecting furniture for your office breakout area design will depend on what you plan to include.

Types of furniture to be incorporated would ideally include:

  • Breakfast bar
  • Sofas and relaxed seating
  • Low coffee tables
  • Poufs
  • Benches

As with all office design, considerations to natural light, ventilation, and foot flow all come into play when designing a breakout area, so it is sensible to seek advice from a specialist office fit-out company when planning to incorporate this type of space into your office.

Explore our office fit out and refurbishment services today to learn more about how we can transform your space.

The Essential Guide to Planning an Office Refurbishment

As an office fit out and refurbishment company, we wanted to put an all-encompassing article together to assist our readers with all aspects of office refurbishment, using our experience and real-life case studies.

Within this article we cover the following:

  • What does an office refurbishment involve?
  • Who carries out an office refurbishment?
  • Cost of an office refurbishment
  • What does an office refurbishment company do?
  • Benefits of Office Refurbishment
  • Examples of office refurbishment
  • What is the difference between an office refurbishment and an office fit out?

What Does an Office Refurbishment Involve?

Office refurbishment could be described as the renovation of a workspace. It is often a method of modernising, refreshing and revamping a space, not necessarily to change its function or layout, although this can form a part of the refurbishment. More likely, it is to be initiated by new branding, an increase or reduction in staff or updating the space to offer employees a better working environment.

Who Carries Out an Office Refurbishment?

Businesses who are focused on the well-being of their employees are either aware or keen to learn about how their office can help to produce a positive working environment (that may be why you are reading this article!). Job satisfaction and productivity are both key benefits to a well thought out office refit project, along with a positive impression to both stakeholders and visitors alike.

Once a need has been identified, contacting an office refurbishment specialist is paramount to producing a successful project.

Cost of an Office Refurbishment

An office refurb project can vary dramatically from simple redecoration to a full modernisation and therefore the attributed costs can vary significantly.

Elements that may be considered in an office refurbishment project are:

● Partitioning
● Lighting
● Flooring
● Joinery
● Data cabling/ AV cabling
● Breakout areas
● Reception areas
● Ceiling Refurbishment
● Suspended ceilings
● Mezzanine floors
● Suspended ceilings

As each project is unique, with the scope of works and size of the office influencing refurbishment costs, a detailed breakdown of all elements is essential and having a budget to work to is very useful. Working with an Office Refurbishment specialist will establish if your budget can be used for a basic, mid or high spec finish.

What Does an Office Refurbishment Company Do?

An office fit out and refurbishment company will work to listen and understand the needs of your project and create and deliver a design and subsequent fit out based on your needs.  

Businesses are experts in their own field, whether they offer a product or service, however, unless your company offers interior refurbishment or office refurb, you will need to seek guidance from a specialist in these areas to assist with your refurbishment project. And we exist to make your working life comfortable. 

During initial consultations, trained staff will be listening to and understanding the human side of your business, because creating your perfect office design is all about asking the right questions.   

Office refurbishment companies often have a wealth of experience and innovative skills to deliver high-quality projects that are aesthetically pleasing, whilst providing practicality to suit your everyday business needs.  

Case Study

Working with The Parks Trust in Buckinghamshire is an exemplary example of collaboration and the importance of using an office refurbishment company. As a charity who care for parks and green spaces in Milton Keynes, they were keen to use a lot of timber in their design for the collaborative workspace and break-out area. Utilising our expertise and talented craftsmen, we were able to create a stunning space in The Parks Trust’s atrium.

Ally Phillips, Senior Property manager at The Parks Trust highlighted one of the benefits she found from using an experience office refurbishment company. “Meridian were happy to provide a chain of custody of the timber required, as this was a major part of the design”.

As previously mentioned, every brief and budget are different and every client’s requirements unique to their brand and workplace environment. A one size fits all approach just would not work for providing a well-thought out and executed refurbishment project, which is where working with an experience office refurbishment company matters. We create workspaces that not only look good, but also promote wellbeing in the workplace, leading to increase productivity for your business.

Benefits of Office Refurbishment

There are many benefits for carrying out an interior refurbishment in your office and some will be specific to individual businesses. Detailed below are a selection of the more common ones.

Growth and Future-proofing

As a business expands, an office refurbishment may be generated, as teams may change in dynamic and size. This would be a good opportunity to discuss the most efficient ways of working and how space planning could assist with this, as future proofing the layout at this stage is time well spent.

Updating Furniture

Technology improvements and scientific research into the ergonomic benefits of workplace furniture is ongoing. In recent years, sit-stand desks have been advocated in many working environments and much research has been written about their benefits. Sit-stand desks have become particularly popular among millennials and some even expect one as part of their package when they start a new job. A refurbishment is an ideal opportunity to take stock of existing office furniture and explore modern options, which can help staff well-being.

Introducing new technologies

As technology changes, so often does the space. From larger server cupboards, ‘Zoom’ rooms, to considerations around remote working and the potential change of use of offices, to meeting and collaborative hubs. Embracing these developments within your refurbishment will assist with more agile working practices.

Opportunity to change the working environment

In many modern working environments staff complain about noisy spaces, making it hard to concentrate because of background noise or overbearing office lighting, lack of natural light or good ventilation. As these elements are intrinsic to creating a healthy working environment, as detailed in our article ‘How to Design a Productive Office Environment’, a refurbishment project is a perfect time to consider these factors and include them into your plans.

Creating a new identity

If your current workspace has become a bit dated or run down, this can reflect negatively on your brand, as visual impression is paramount to your corporate identity. An interior refurbishment is therefore advantageous and an opportunity to affect business progression, through staff morale and productivity, following positive investment in their working environment.

Examples of office refurbishment

A nice example of a recently carried out office refurbishment involved transforming the old library, meeting room and tea point at our client’s premises in Cambridgeshire, into an open plan staff collaboration and break-out space.

As explained throughout this article an office refurbishment can mean something different to each company. This project involved demolition, installation of new suspended ceilings, updates to lighting, decoration, glazing installation, bespoke joinery, a kitchen fit-out and fitting new flooring.

The result is a modernised workplace, utilising the space more effectively and providing staff with a working environment and break-out area, flooded with natural light and refreshing colour palette. 

A different project saw Meridian Interiors carry out a complete high-end office refurbishment, incorporating our client’s re-branding exercise, which was complemented with a new office furniture installation.

Incorporating impressive design, good products and skilled workmanship, the following elements were incorporated into the scheme; space planning, upgrading meeting areas, partitioning and screening, an operable and sliding wall installation, bespoke joinery, kitchen fit-out, tea point and break-out refurbishment, W/C refurbishments, decoration, carpet & luxury vinyl tile installation and supplying both functional and relaxed furniture.

These images show the creation of this stunning office environment.

What is the difference between an office refurbishment and an office fit out?

Office refurbishment and office fit out are often used interchangeably because they are very similar.

The key difference is that an office fit out may be completed within a new building and an office refurbishment project can be considered to be undertaken in an existing building/space.

A fit out is the process of creating an interior workspace suitable for use, involving the implementation of electrical and mechanical systems, followed by internal decoration and furniture installation. There are different levels of fit out, depending on who is developing the space, the landlord or the tenant.

The term Category A (Cat A) fit out, generally involves fitting out the core of a building, to possibly include amenity areas, staircases, corridors, lobbies or reception areas.

The term Category B (Cat B) fit outs are more reflective of the works completed in the tenants or owners demise, possibly the office or workshops where the client will operate their business.

Whatever your level of office refurbishment requirement, Meridian Interiors have the knowledge and expertise to create an amazing workspace! Discover our office refurbishment services here or contact us today to find out more.

A Full ‘Turn-key’ Service

When you embark on a new office refurbishment, the amount of different tasks to think about can seem daunting, especially if you are developing designs, sourcing trades people, dealing with building regulations, working with a project manager through another company, the list goes on…!

If, however, you choose to deal with a company, like Meridian Interiors, who offer a full ‘turn-key’ service, you benefit from dealing with a main point of contact who can look after the following services and talk you through the project from beginning to end:

  • Space Planning
  • Office Design
  • Product Sourcing
  • On-going Project Cost Analysis
  • Project Management and Change Management
  • Health and Safety Coordination and Management
  • Local Authority Regulatory Compliance

Benefits of using Meridian Interiors for your ‘Turn-key’ Service

  1. One point of contact with specialist knowledge and expertise.
  2. Better communication and quicker project turnaround.
  3. Bespoke service, tailored to your needs.
  4. Use of an Office Interiors company, who work with a sister company, specialising in Office furniture.

Our Team at Meridian are customer facing, always pleased to discuss your future projects and we are proud of our reputation for gaining repeat business, which equates to 80% of our annual turnover.

If you would like to experience what Meridian can offer for your next interiors project, please do not hesitate to contact us today!

The benefits of encouraging staff to use breakout areas

Legally, people employed in the UK are entitled to 20 minutes of rest in a six-hour workday. Staff and employees alike are encouraged to use breakout areas to recuperate and de-stress. However, many workers state they don’t always use that 20 minutes, with some not taking a break at all! A proper Office Refurbishment & fit-out service can help not only improve creativity and wellbeing, it can also improve productivity: helping that all-important bottom line.

An improved overall wellbeing

Staff need to take time and recharge during a regular workday. Stress and resulting health concerns like anxiety and stiffness are avoided by using breakout areas for nutrition and pressure relief. Taking breaks regularly throughout the workweek is a good habit to adopt, promoting self-care. This has enormous benefits for a person’s physical and psychological health. According to Bupa, their survey of 2000 employees shows 30% of workers who skip lunch felt ill by the afternoon. A further 40% claimed dampened productivity and 52% state low mood. Therefore, taking breaks are important in both physical and psychological aspects.

Moreover, detaching the eyes from a glaring computer screen for a while helps eyesight, reducing headaches. Moving away from the desk and correcting posture lessens the impact of the common slouched sitting position. Sedentary behaviour is lessened, helping negate risks such as musculoskeletal discomfort, metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes and cancer.

A productive working environment

Working hard doesn’t directly correlate to high productivity. This misconception occurs due to employers’ attitudes and the rat race to securing a bonus or promotion. Confinement to a desk without sufficient down time and nutrition intake reduces productivity, despite spending longer on tasks. This suggests taking a break at work is imperative for getting stuff done! Be it a lunch/smoke break, they boost productivity, psychological wellbeing and performance.

In fact, stress, anxiety and poor performance stem from overworked staff. Therefore, it is in a company’s best interests to encourage staff to use breakout areas to enhance performance and job satisfaction.

Encourage breaks; exploit the tremendous benefits by revamping the breakout area with our quality Office Design. The ideal retreat is essential for a needed desk break. Encourage colleagues to break for lunch and discuss the benefits of doing so. Most importantly, lead by example and take a break yourself!

The Lifeblood of Your Office – Essential Services

Discover the secrets to mastering office services from office experts, Meridian Interiors Ltd.

Office services are a little bit like oxygen. You never truly realise how important they are until they are gone. When an essential facility like hot water or electricity is no longer available, this can cause significant disruption to the business and can even impact operations to the point where a closure is inevitable until resolution is achieved.

How can a business effectively deliver services in the office environment and ensure that they are available as needed?

Electricians

The electrical systems in a business should have been set up during the construction phase and are generally fine for years without requiring changes or alterations. However regular testing is required of all electrical systems to ensure that these are safe and do not present any danger to workers in the office environment. PAT testing covers appliances – the more often an appliance is used the more frequently it should be tested.

Communication Services

Even though wireless technology is available, most businesses prefer to use the lightning speeds offered by gigabit ethernet cabling for their users. As loose lay cables are a prohibited hazard in most workplaces, this type of network is usually installed in structured housing throughout the office. All services including internet connectivity can be delivered through this network.

One of the advantages of modern networks is that the need for separate services has been rapidly diminished. Whilst some companies may still prefer to use PBX systems and conventional phone lines, an increasingly prevalent picture in the business arena is the office that entirely hosts all contact devices on the internet.

Voice Over IP (VOIP) systems have evolved over the past decade and no longer experience the drop offs and line distortion that have been a decisive factor that have prevented many businesses from implementing them in the past. Now with structured cabling present in most offices for the provision of essential network services, VOIP is becoming an increasingly attractive proposition.

Technology Trends

One of the most significant changes in communication technology has been the arrival of the Smartphone and business tablet in recent times. Clients and customers often expect businesses to offer a public Wi-Fi service to allow them to connect their devices to a communication network.

There are significant dangers associated with delivering this service and it is vital that there is sufficient encryption or security between the publicly available network and the business network. Additionally, the public password should be changed daily to prevent unauthorised third parties using the network to acquire sensitive information from your visitors.

A Final Word

As with all business services the most important consideration for an office management company is establishing strong connections with local professionals who have the staff levels and abilities to consistently meet your service demands. If you are experiencing difficulties in finding the companies to fulfil these expectations then referrals from your existing clients can be a vital factor in locating a competent provider.

Setting the Boundaries – Effective Office Partitioning

Discover the secrets to mastering office partitioning from office experts, Meridian Interiors Ltd

Not all offices will be built in line with your company’s departments, teams and functions. Fit the space around your business with office partitioning. These cost effective walls can be quickly deployed to create an organisational layout that suits your needs.

Use this quick guide to assess what types of partitioning is best for your workplace to help maximise efficiency, reduce noise between departments and generally provide a non-disruptive flow of foot traffic around the operational areas.

Stud

This is the most basic type of partitioning, consisting of a poly-plastic or metal frame, secured to the floor. This forms a skeleton structure that is subsequently covered with panels to create physical partitions. Plasterboard is typical used in the construction of these partitions.

Glass

Glass partitions are like stud partitions, however instead of solid, opaque panels, glass sheets are added to the structure, creating transparent barriers. This type of partitioning is especially useful when an area of a workspace suffers from a lack of natural light. Glass can be double glazed to create insulation or frosted with the company logo.

Temporary Partitions

Extending curtains or concertina partitions are one way of creating a temporary barrier between different areas of your workspace. This type of partitioning is often found in hotels or conference rooms, allowing the business owners to scale the space in accordance with client’s demands.

Timber Partitions

Timber partitions use an all wooden construction, from the structural supports through to the panels. Creating an elegant and classic profile, timber partitions, particularly those made from hardwood are a stylish alternative to conventional stud systems.

Cubicles

Smaller, individual partitions are available to mark out individual booths or working areas in open plan offices. This type of divider allows for employees to control their immediate working environment, whilst also promoting communication and collaboration through members of the team.

Creating Functional Areas in the Business

The principle reason for partitioning is to delineate space within the office or workplace environment into rooms and sections for various purposes. Separating each individual area promotes a focus on specific business activities, allowing a more ordered and structured organisational framework. Some of the more common uses include:

Sales floor

If you have a busy outbound calling floor this can often create quite a large amount of noise, commotion and energy. Whilst this is great for the salespeople, this can prove disruptive to other functions in the business and partitions can dramatically reduce this issue.

Executive office

Partitioning can allow individual spaces to be created for company directors, offering a degree of privacy for important calls and operational discussions with the business leaders.

Boardroom

Every large business needs a boardroom. Even though such rooms often now function as meeting rooms for different teams and important client presentations, the large table, set seats and chairs create a sense of purpose and presence.

Reception area

Keep clients separate from the functional areas of your business with a designated reception area. Here they can drink coffee and wait for taxis to pick them up following meetings without having to leave the building.

Department location

If your business is large enough to have dedicated departments, then partitions will allow all the members of each individual team to congregate in a set area. Customer service, IT support, finance and HR can all be given their own domain, promoting team cohesion and understanding.

Want to Plan Your Ideal Office?

Discover the secrets to mastering space and positioning from office experts, Meridian Interiors Ltd

Taking over new office space can be a daunting prospect. There are many variables that must be accounted for properly to create a productive and enjoyable atmosphere.

How will light from the windows impact workers sitting at screens? What design elements are necessary to evolve your offices from a bland and sterile enclave into a bustling haven of imagination and activity? And of course, will movement throughout the office create a disruption or a smooth foot flow?

space plan

Find a satisfactory office design plan and layout and you will enjoy many clear advantages. Improved morale, increased efficiency and a more pleasant environment for meetings with suppliers and clients will all drive your company growth.

Effective planning is always the first step when it comes to creating a fully functional and aesthetically pleasing office environment. Careful consideration of your needs, requirements, essential functions and worker constraints should form the basis of your approach. Before you even start thinking about design, try to recognise key factors.

For instance, if your salespeople are often noisy, making lots of loud calls whilst generating energy and activity, then it would be advisable not to position this department next to a focused legal or accounting team, who have to meticulously construct detailed in-depth reports and documents. Efficiency should always hold the premier position in your planning hierarchy.

You should then consider the following key areas when planning a new office for your business:

Location

Think carefully about how your employees will access your new premises. Is it worth choosing a desirable city centre office if there is no available parking? With many commercial centres now making it tough on traffic, do you want personnel to arrive in a bad mood due to tailbacks and jams, especially in winter? Purchasing or renting a property on a business park may not have the prestige of those old offices, but this must be balanced against accessibility.

Budget

Again, carefully reviewing the needs of your business will help you understand how to best spend your budget. Do you require good internet and mobile phone access? Are phone lines and internet provision included in the arrangement or will you have to install these through the business, taking a considerable amount of money and time to arrange. Ensure that you have an absolute understanding of what you are buying.

Space Management

One of the vital elements in the success of any office environment is a well thought out layout design. Utilise space saving furniture together with movement dynamics to position each part of your office intelligently, allowing employees to communicate and work together.

Be careful not to make the error of underestimating the space needed for your staff. In London, the respected rule is that every person should have around 100 square feet of space. Often this is broken down into 50 square feet of desk space and then 50 square feet of breakout rooms, toilets and kitchens. Remember that happy people are productive people.

Remember that a successful business will grow. Plan and accommodate for your future alongside your present and allocate areas of the office for new starters, departments or even entirely new supporting services. Combine prudent thinking with optimistic thinking giving you a contingency should you land a substantial order or contract.

Decorative Statements

Much like your marketing materials, business cards and websites, your office’s internal environment should be a reflection of your brand. Use corporate and business colour-schemes to outline carpets, wall tones and furniture. Introduce your brand values in frames pictures in offices and meeting areas to underline your ethos to customers.

Once you have established a clear plan for the large-scale planning ideas, it is important to focus in on creating the elements necessary to drive efficiency and function within the business.

Breakout Areas

From lounges and TV areas through to kitchens and more functional spaces, employees will need somewhere at work where they can disconnect from activity and recover their concentration levels.

Many businesses now offer facilities that are in line with their company image. Fun and friendly marketing agencies have computer games and ping pong tables whilst more stately businesses such as accountants use coffee machines, sofas and TVs tuned into Sky News. With psychologists claiming that a break every 50-90 minutes is essential for productivity – can you afford not to plan for relaxation areas in your layout?

Storage

Adequate storage is a necessity for any business. Keeping desks free from clutter and ensuring that important supplies are on hand will help aid productivity. Think about how employees might additionally need to use storage. If you have a business with warehousing or machine shops, it could be a good idea to provide employees with lockable cabinet style storage on an individual basis.

Equally if your business has accrued a large amount of furniture that you have earmarked for use in a future expansion, then why not allocate a whole room for its storage, which can be converted into usable office space later?

Meeting Rooms

What better way to impress your prospective and existing clients that with a quality meeting room? With frosted or embossed glass and air-conditioning, it is possible to create a formal, high class venue, perfect for impressing people. Consider two different types of meeting room too. There’s always room for having a separate space from the office floor for employee matters, whilst retaining other premium areas for clients.

Remember that planning your office is the first step in a larger picture of success. Make careful and well-thought out choices to build a comfortable atmosphere for your staff whilst still giving your operating centre the professional profile required to win business.

Whether you want further information, or would like to discuss any refurbishments project’s you may have – do not hesitate to contact Meridian Interiors!

How to Choose the Right Design and Fit Out Partner

When the time comes to choose a fit-out partner for your office refurbishment or redevelopment project, where do you start?

If you type the words ‘design and fit-out company in the UK’ into Google, you’ll have more than 75 million hits in less than a second. So when the time comes to choose a fit-out partner for your own office refurbishment or redevelopment project, where do you start? Meridian Interiors has this advice for companies that want to source the right partner every time.

No matter how small or vast the project in question, when you are choosing a fit-out partner you will need to know the answers to three basic but critically important questions.

Can they do it?

The first thing to consider is the company’s capability and expertise. Are they big enough to cope? Do they have the resources in place to tackle any particular technical challenges?

Will they do it well?

If they could undertake your project in theory, how might they perform in practice? Do they have the financial and corporate integrity required to complete the job to the right standard, on time and to the agreed budget?

Can I trust them?

In the fit-out world, mistakes can be very costly. If the answers to 1) and 2) are yes and yes, it’s time to make doubly sure by conducting a thorough check of the company’s credentials.

Here’s our 7 Step Guide to check you’re choosing the right partner:

1. Define your requirements

Firstly – what do you want your fit-out partner to do?

Are you looking for a simple refurbishment of your current premises, or a complete redesign? Is this for a small office, or an entire building? Do you need more space? And if so, does that space need new plumbing, heating, air conditioning, telecoms, IT? Will you need to relocate a few people, or a few hundred people, while the work is carried out? Once you have outlined the scope of your project you are ready to begin the hunt for the perfect fit-out partner.

2. Draw up a long list

If you’re starting from scratch, with no past suppliers to call or recommendations to explore, a quick Internet search should identify dozens of fit-out companies that operate in your area, with websites testifying to their prowess and experience. Reviewing and comparing their claims and client lists will give you a rough idea whether they could tackle a project like yours. Given that you will need to investigate each one of the companies on your long list in more depth, it is worth limiting your efforts to five or six that seem to meet your requirements best – on paper at least.

Once you have a long list prepared, start looking into each company a bit further and reducing your selection to a shortlist of three or four that you would like to meet face to face.

3. Who and how will you decide

Before you call the different companies in to pitch for your business, decide up front how you will evaluate the contenders.

Consider every angle: There will be many different factors to consider, so your interview panel or steering committee must have the ability to question the presenters on all aspects of the job. This includes the design and planning, cost, timelines, IT requirements, infrastructure changes, project management and impact on the day-to-day business.

Seek independent advice: If you don’t have this level of know-how in house, you can recruit a third party consultant to help you with the selection process at the very least. (if your project is substantial you may be wise to employ an independent project manager too).

Don’t repent at leisure: Even if one company seems to stand out from the start, don’t rush in to making a commitment as an easy win may cause the successful party to become complacent. The harder a company has to work for your business, the more they will value it.

4. Assess their capability & expertise

Each design and fit out company will send along a ‘pitch team’ to bid for your business. The make-up of the team will tell you a lot about the company and how it’s organised. For example, most teams will include a project leader and a senior designer and possibly a pre-construction manager. Other various experts may also be brought along to explain how they would manage some of the technical aspects of the project (IT specialists, for example).

The team will work together to excite your interest with striking representations of their ideas for your project with 3D visuals. Don’t get swept away by the design alone – it’s your job to dig deeper and question how this work will be carried out, when, and by whom.

Make sure you ask:

  • Will the pitch team be involved in delivering the project?
  • Have they worked together on other projects?
  • Will they be using freelancers or third party consultants at any stage? If so, which services are they outsourcing? How will they manage the project to ensure your business remains a priority to everyone involved?
  • Are they pitching for other business that will run alongside your project? Could your timeframes be compromised as a result?
  • Can they guarantee the designs you are being shown are priced up and within your budget? Has anything been slipped in for added impact?
  • Will the people who have prepared the specification and costs you are seeing be the ones managing the build phase?
  • Would they arrange for you to see one of their finished projects, or one they have in progress?

5. Do the due diligence

Even the smallest office fit-out will involve a significant sum of money, so you need to be sure that your investment is safe. Don’t take their word for it. Check for yourself that any company you may choose to appoint is financially stable.

Find out:

  • Is the company’s turnover and cash position sufficient to support the size of the project?
  • Are they creditworthy and able to negotiate better prices (for materials, furniture etc) on your behalf?
  • Do they have appropriate insurance in place and at a suitable level for your project (employers liability insurance, public and product liability insurance, contracts all risk insurance)?
  • Do they have an excellent health and safety record?
  • Do they manage all aspects of their work in an environmentally sustainable way – or will your own green credentials be at risk if you appoint them?
  • Would they agree to a financial penalty for late completion, or take out a performance bond as a guarantee that they will deliver on their promise?

6. Check credentials

Before you appoint any company to work for you, look and see how well they have done for others. The pitch presentation is likely to include photos of completed projects and quotes from happy customers. So ask to speak to a few of the customers directly. It’s the best way to find out what went on behind the scenes – and how they dealt with any challenges they faced along the way.

Look for:

  • Names you recognise and repeat customers on their client list.
  • Any recognised accreditations that indicate how they manage their business, such as the ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management mark, or BREEAM® eco-friendly compliance.
  • Construction or design related awards or nominations for past work.

7. Draw up the contract

You’ve chosen a fit-out company based on what you believe they can deliver. Now it’s time to put it in writing.

  • Make sure all of your expectations are documented along with the timeframes and costs involved.
  • Add in the penalties they can expect to incur should any aspect of the project fall below the stated standards.
  • Ask them to sign on the bottom line!

Great, you’ve just appointed your perfect fit-out partner and can look forward to the finished result.