Our surroundings have a big impact on the way we feel and behave. When we are at ease, safe, and energised, we are better thinkers and communicators, and more connected to the world and the people around us. It makes sense, therefore, that the work environment that we provide has a direct impact on our team’s motivation, productivity, and staff retention, not to mention the impact that great workplace design can have on a brand’s image.
If your workplace is looking unprofessional, old-fashioned, tired, hinders your productivity, or simply does not suit the organisation you have become, it could be time to invest in a workplace transformation. But what would such a project involve?
One of our commercial design and build partners, AMH, specialise in workplace design, refurbishment, office fit-out and furniture for clients based all over the UK. Whatever your commercial design project, AMH can help.
With so much knowledge and experience behind them, they seemed like the perfect people to ask about the evolution and future of the modern ‘human centred’ workspace, what’s involved in a workspace refurb project, and what organisations need to consider before embarking on their own workspace transformation.
How important is it to have the right workspace?
Having the right workspace is integral for a business. People often think of well-designed offices as being “cool” or “trendy”, or with unusual design features such as ball-pits and slides. In reality, a well-designed office will enable staff to be more productive and engaged in their work. It will support and celebrate a business’ brand and culture. It can promote and encourage improving one’s wellbeing and allows for strong relationships to be built by the team members who occupy it.
How can the right workspace achieve these things?
Providing the right functionality of a workspace is key to achieving all the aforementioned benefits, and this has to be driven by detailed research and analysis of those who use the space. The ‘perfect’ office will be different for each company, as designs must be bespoke to cater for a business’ specific needs. Fundamentality you need to provide spaces which support team members to complete their various job responsibilities to the best of their ability.
What does the AMH design team need to understand about an organisation to be able to create a proposal?
We’re extremely thorough when it comes to taking a brief and understanding the organisations that we support. As an overview there are 4 key themes which we really need to discuss, and that businesses should be considering if they are planning a design and fit-out project. They are:
- People and culture; this considers employee engagement, happiness, productivity, and retention rates, and also the company’s identity and purpose.
- A supportive workspace; this relates to designing a workspace around the people and their specific functions, and creating a positive working environment where individuals and organisations can thrive.
- Look and feel; this refers to the look and feel of your workspace which will be experienced from the moment you or a visitor walk through the doors. More than just cushions and colours, it’s about how a space makes you feel.
- Budget and timescales; this looks into the need to have some idea of the desired budget spend so that we can work with an organisation to achieve this and highlight any areas where additional / less spend will be beneficial. Similarly establishing clear timescales are also important.
What types of space work best for collaboration?
The best types of spaces for team members to collaborate will be based on how they work and what functionality suits them best. There’s definitely a shift (in the right direction) of recognising the need to enable and support more collaboration within the workspace, especially as that seems to be one of the main reasons why many people will choose to come into the office opposed to completing their tasks at home. Once again, it’s about listening clearly to what people need to allow them to work in a happier and more efficient way, and then designing a space which is fit for purpose.
How long does a typical workspace refurb take?
Timeframes can vary hugely depending on a number of factors; size of project, whether work is being undertaken whilst the premises is un-occupied, the level of mechanical and engineering work needed, furniture lead times and so on. It is always highly advisable to plan way ahead of time. The more time you allow yourself for a project means the process runs as smooth as possible. Initial conversations can sometimes be 6-12 months prior, but this guarantees that decisions aren’t being made with the pressure of pending deadlines.
What do you think workspaces of the future will look like?
The workspaces of the future will hopefully resemble workspaces that have been well-designed in the past, i.e. they will be workspaces that cater for the needs of the people who occupy them. They will have the right technology and infrastructure to allow for the most efficient work possible.
They will be workspaces that recognise that feelings and emotions and moods are affected by the environment and amenities. They’ll be workspaces which have capacity to accommodate change and flexibility.
How much will a workspace transformation cost?
There are a variety of elements that affect the cost of a project, so each budget will be specific to each business. Cost saving solutions can be implemented into the design, and this demonstrates the need for a really clear design brief as it identifies priority areas when it comes to the budget. Following similar advice as the timeframes of a project, the best guidance is to establish how you will be financing the project at the earliest opportunity. Exploring finance solutions can be a very effective way to spread costs, as well as understanding what contributions can be obtained by landlords, and using commercial agents to help you negotiate the best rates should you be moving into a new premises.
Paying for your office transformation
While paying for your interiors project upfront in cash is certainly an option, an increasing number of organisations are choosing to use asset finance to spread the cost over time. Why? Because they unlock many if not all of the following benefits.
- POTENTIAL TAX SAVINGS: Paying for a commercial fit-out via a finance lease can mean that the costs are 100% tax deductible.
- KEEP MORE CASH IN THE BUSINESS: Spreading the cost over time means you can keep hold of your cash which provides greater financial security and enables you to invest in further growth.
- FIXED AFFORDABLE PAYMENTS: Affordable and fixed payments including VAT costs throughout the term of the agreement make it easy to manage budgets and prevent nasty surprise costs, even if interest rates rise in the future.
- TOTAL PROJECT FUNDING: Finance deals can be structured to include every part of the project from the construction, including labour, to the new furniture, technology, carpets, air conditioning, and even the paint.
- GET THE WORKPLACE YOU NEED NOW: Using cash to pay for your commercial fit-out can mean that your plans are restricted by budget constraints leading to compromise. Spreading the cost via a finance lease enables you to get the workplace your business needs to thrive today.
- REDUCED FINANCIAL RISK: A finance arrangement with a lender reduces your reliance on your bank, keeping lines of credit clear and spreading risk.
- FUTUREPROOFED WORKSPACE: Rather than sinking cash into depreciating assets, when the furniture and technology has reached the end of its lifecycle, you can upgrade them via a new finance deal, avoiding large capital investments at a later date.
Cash vs Lease Comparison Based on a £100,000 Project
|Paying in cash upfront||Leasing option|
Repayments of £1,998.50
Paid over 60 months
|Project cost||£100,000||Total repayable||£119,910.00|
|Tax saving||£11,955.94||Tax saving||£22,782.90|
|Cost after tax saving||£88,044.06||Cost after tax saving||£97,127.10|
|Net Present Value||£90,522.47||Net Present Value||£79,617.34|
|NPV of opportunity cost||£0.00||NPV of opportunity cost||£42,061.76|
|Net capital cost||£90,522.47||Net lease cost||£37,555.58|
Opportunity cost = The return on capital of not utilising all cash upfront. Net Present Value = Discounted value taking into account timings of cash flows. Where applicable figures exclude VAT.
TOTAL SAVING MADE BY CHOOSING LEASING = £52,966.89
Customer assumptions: Corporation tax rate: 19% | Capital allowances: 18% | Discount rate: 10% | Return on capital employed: 15%
The best finance deals are those that are tailored to your business and project, and that is what we specialise in at Bluestone Leasing. If you are planning to invest in a workplace transformation and would like to spread the cost, keep cash in the business, and potentially unlock significant tax benefits, a bespoke finance solution could make that happen.