7 June 2021

Office fit out to flex space – We explain your workplace options

For many years, the office fit out industry was more often than not geared towards Cat A and Cat B fit outs, where the main decisions were around the type of build route your organisation would take. Would it be a traditional build, a design and build, or perhaps a detail and build or even framework agreements.

Now there are lots more options available to choose from. Will your organisation benefit from creating a bespoke workplace or will it be better to be more agile and move into a flex space that’s fully serviced on a short-term lease?

Office fit out to flex space – We explain your workplace options

Here are some of the main options available to organisations to consider for their workplace.

  • Shell and core
  • CAT A fit out
  • CAT A+ fit out
  • CAT B fit out
  • Hub and spoke
  • Flex and coworking space
  • Tenant-ready plug and play fit out

But what do they all mean?

What is a Shell and Core fit out?

Shell and core is the simplest option available to organisations. In basic terms, it means that the building has been completed on the outside and in any common areas shared between the occupiers such as lifts, and toilets. But the office itself is a bare shell with concrete floors and walls, but no lighting or facilities have been installed.

What does a Shell and Core fit out include?

  • External works
  • Internal Structure
  • Cladding
  • Basic common areas

Who is it for?

This option is not usually for the organisations that will be moving into the space. It is generally for property developers, investors or landlords.

What is a CAT A fit out?

A CAT A fit out, or Category A fit out, is the next step up from Shell and Core with some of the basic finishes applied to the space. It will have walls and floors, but they will be finished to an industrial standard and won’t be anything fancy. A CAT A fit out may also include things like suspended ceilings or raised floors, as well as any mechanical or electrical services. It might also have toilets installed…but there’s no guarantees!

What does a CAT A fit out include?

  • Basic mechanical and electrical services
  • Fire detection services and smoke alarms
  • Air-conditioning and ventilation (HVAC)
  • Maybe some raised floors and suspended ceilings

Who is it for?

This option is usually for property developers, investors or landlords. In some instances, companies that are planning to occupy an entire building may instruct a Cat A fit out from a contractor before using an interior design company to complete a Cat B fit out.

What is a CAT A+ fit out?

A CAT A+, or Category A+ fit out, is essentially the middle ground between CAT A and CAT B, and provides a CAT A fit out of a building with some basic design features that get it ready for a business to move into. This often won’t be anything fancy though, it’ll contain fitted kitchens and meeting rooms, but you won’t have any branding or layouts tailored to your requirements. 

What does a CAT A+ fit out include?

  • Fitted kitchens
  • Partitioning including meeting rooms, offices and breakout spaces
  • Furniture and workspaces
  • Re-routing air conditioning and power points
  • IT installation and infrastructure

Who is it for?

A CAT A+ fit out is typically for landlords. This will often be an option for them to attract a wider range of prospective tenants than a CAT A as it allows for immediate occupation. This option will often be taken up by smaller companies that can’t afford a full CAT B fit out. Find out more about CAT A+ here.

What is a CAT B fit out?

A CAT B fit out, or Category B fit out, follows on from a CAT A fit out and provides you with a workplace that’s designed for you and completely ready to move into. For this stage, you will have partnered with a Design and Build specialist or an architect to design every inch of your workplace. 

This would all be tailored to the individual needs of your business and workforce, delivering the right mix of collaboration spaces, meeting rooms and desks. Here at TSK we think that organisations get the best results for a CAT B fit out following a consultancy stage that allows us to understand how your people work, combined with the needs of your business to be able to create an optimised workplace specific to your needs.

A CAT B fit out will cover everything from floor plans, to lighting, door knobs and doors. Every element will be designed to your liking, ensuring that your office is somewhere that allows you to attract and retain the best talent, and allow your people to do their best work.

What does a CAT B fit out include?

  • Partitioning; including meeting rooms, offices and breakout spaces
  • Workstations and furniture
  • Reconfiguring air-conditioning and power points
  • IT installation and infrastructure
  • Design and brand detailing

Who is it for?

A CAT B fit out is for occupiers of all sizes. It allows companies to fit out a workplace to their specifications, and gives them the chance to put their brand and personality into the space, which can help build the right culture. 

What is Hub and Spoke?

A hub and spoke model for workplaces is not a new idea. In its simplest form, a company will have a central headquarters, which serves as the hub of the business while the spokes are a geographically distributed network of offices.

The hub can generally be found in a city-centre location with excellent access to public transport and acts as the cultural centre of the business. While the spokes allow organisations to have a presence in different locations, giving them access to a broader talent pool and client base.

Who is it for?

A hub and spoke model is generally for larger organisations looking to have a central headquarters with smallers locations dotted about. However, with a more dispersed workforce and a greater uptake in hybrid working, companies of all sizes can utilise the model by incorporating coworking space for their people with a central location that could be used for training.

What is Flex Space or Coworking Space?

Flex space or co-working office spaces are offered by serviced office companies, such as LABS and WeWork, and provide a workplace that is immediately ready to move into. Don’t be fooled though, this option doesn’t just mean you’ll all be sat around one table, they offer private office space, complete with bookable meeting rooms that are often finished with high quality fixtures and fittings.

Usually found in city centres, flex space allows businesses to provide their people with the equipment, space and services that might be difficult for some businesses otherwise. Larger organisations are now turning to co-working spaces too if they are approaching a lease event or are looking at housing some of their teams in an office that is ready to go.

Who is it for?

Everyone. From start-ups, and small, rapidly-growing or acquisitive companies to larger organisations looking to diversify their real estate portfolio, co-working spaces provide solutions

Find out more about flexible workplaces here.

What is tenant-ready plug and play?

Tenant-ready plug and play fit outs are similar to co-working spaces, and allow organisations to turn up and start working from the off. They often contain good facilities including cafes, showers and meeting rooms, as well as providing IT equipment and WIFI.

These workplaces will usually allow your business to put their stamp on the place too. From splashes of brand colour, to artwork and the bosses chair, these spaces can be tweaked to fit your organisation.

Who is it for?

This option gives organisations of all sizes a quick route to a high-quality workplace. For small, fast growing companies or larger occupiers looking for over-fill space, this option provides a speedy hassle-free solution.

Want to know more?

We are always happy to talk about all things workplace. Get in touch with our team today to find out more about the different types of office available to you here.

Workplace [R]Evolution: Issue 2
Workplace [R]Evolution: Issue 2

With dispersed workforces set to remain, organisations are adopting hybrid working models at a rapid pace, taking learnings from activity based working, utilising technology and empowering employees to choose how and where they want to work. In the second edition of our publication, we’ve explored the challenges and solutions of managing a hybrid workplace, how technology is helping bring people back to the office and the evolution of office design.

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