How to make your in-situ refurbishment a success

If you think pain is an inescapable part of your office refurbishment, think again. With the right approach, change of any scale can become a journey of transformation – not only for your workplace, but for the people at the heart of your business.

It’s not uncommon for companies to carry out upgrade works around staff, particularly if they’re committed to long leases or own their own building. While it’s realistic to expect some level of disruption, resistance to change can be drastically minimised with early engagement, agile working and empathy with employees.

Four steps to success

According to research*, 70 per cent of change programs fall short of their goals, mostly because of resistance to change. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Success can be achieved by understanding people, planning around them, communicating constantly and monitoring the project the whole way through.

“If there’s one thing that should be constant, it’s clear communication”

Step 1. Investigate

Making your project a success means truly engaging people. You need to go beyond what they do to understand how they work, what drives them, and what level of detail will excite, rather than overwhelm, them.

Understanding and empathy are key at this stage, as is the desire to investigate deeply in your organisation.

This investigation will help in other ways, too.

You need to maintain business continuity by understanding what security is on offer, what is the relationship with the landlord and where do they need to be involved for approval, are there any particular health & safety principles that need adhering to and what access will be available for your staff members during the works?

he process will help highlight issues relating to your people and culture before they become problems, so you plan for solutions at the outset.

Knowing how people work, the work they do, and important milestones the business is working towards is crucial for developing a programme that delivers the right things at the right time.

This process can also help identify issues before they become problems. Which means coming up with practical solutions as part of the plan.

STEP 2. Plan

Success relies on meticulous attention to detail before building work begins planned around the schedule of work in the business. To maintain business continuity, keep your employees engaged and keep a working offer there needs to be plans (and contingency plans) in place for everything that could affect your staff; ventilation, fresh air, heating, light, noise pollution, dust, building control and regulations.

Curating this information is essential for developing an effective phased delivery plan for the refurbishment work. This phased approach not only reduces the risk of employee resistance, but allows people to start benefiting from their changing workplace in stages, rather than waiting until the whole project is finished.

STEP 3. Communicate

If there’s one thing that should be constant, it’s clear communication. Having done your investigations, you will have identified different people and behaviour types.

Some will need daily communication, while others will need weekly or monthly. The crucial thing is getting it right for different people within your organisation.

Keeping communication open will also go a long way to making sure the latest information is easily available should people want to know more.

Whatever the plan, anyone and everyone potentially affected by the changes should be kept in the loop, even if they’re not working for your company.

Open communication sessions which other tenants in the building can attend, for instance, can go a long way to keeping everyone informed and onside.

STEP 4. Monitor and adapt

Business can change by the hour. But by monitoring the project regularly, unexpected ‘surprises’ are far less likely to crop up.

Instead of having to react to unplanned changes, informed decisions can be made and followed up with appropriate plans and communication. People are on top of things, and the project is under control.

It pays to put people first

Transforming your office is a brilliant opportunity to inspire people to be their best and do their finest work – ultimately helping your business realise its full potential. And while the process has been traditionally seen as a series of pain points, it’s an opportunity, too.

When people understand the value of the changes ahead (or already happening), they’re likely to buy into the vision. Trying to force people to adapt to their changing environment defeats the point of transforming the business around them in the first place – and will almost certainly create resistance.

But when people know what’s in it for them and can see tangible benefits, they’ll almost always want to be part of the journey.

It’s a delicate process that needs careful, skilled management. But by putting your people first, and partnering with people who understand everything that comes with an in-situ refurbishment, you can meet your project goals and beyond.

To see how we can work with your on your next project check out what we do or get in touch with the team on 0161 872 0298 or

* Ewenstein, Boris et al, 2015. McKinsey & Company insights/leadership/changing-change-management

  • Simon Guest

    Simon Guest

    Construction Director

  • 3 minutes

    29 July 2019

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