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Preparing your office for 2021 – a checklist

If you're pondering the impact your current workplace has on your business, what steps do you need to take to make the best-informed decision about its future? Here is our checklist of what you need to consider for your office adaptations in 2021.

What does my office need?


If your current office interiors look and feel dated or they simply lack sufficient functional benefits, you may want to consider an office refurbishment. This covers a wide range of activities, including painting and decorating, through to a complete restructuring of spaces (including the construction of new floors, ceilings and walls). It is essentially a complete re modelling of the space so that it fits the needs of the business.Removing or adding internal walls, replacing ceilings and installing new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems are all common ways a business refurbishes their office space.

Fit out

An office fit out is carried out to make office interiors more functional and relevant to the needs of the business. Common examples of an office fit out are when a business moves into a building that is either new or has been stripped back to its shell and core. Another example is when previously unusable space is transformed into workable areas (i.e. a warehouse area needing to be turned into offices, etc). Unlike a refurbishment which 'refreshes' working areas, fit outs create new ones entirely.


Often, a business may find that they have either outgrown their current location or a move of their existing workforce to a new building would be of benefit (usually for financial,operational needs and/or catchment area reasons). Whatever the reason, being able to scout the right locations, negotiate rents and ensure a moving plan is in place to cut down on the disruptions, are all key aspects of an office relocation to consider before the fitting out of the new space.

Why should I consider an office rethink?

Refurbishing, re-fitting or relocating the workplace can be a daunting task; not only is there a financial aspect to consider, the effect on how the business's operations and employees is key in ensuring that long-term success is gained from the project too.

Here is why you should consider a rethink of your current office interiors:
  • Boost morale.
    A change in the environment is a great way to get staff working more productively and to feel positive about the work they're doing for the company as a whole. By keeping them aware of your intentions (as well as including their views on what to feature in the new office design –such as furniture, wall décor, etc) you will be making them feel valued, further boosting their morale.
  • Improve your branding.
    A home says a lot about a person, as the old saying goes – with your office being the home of your business, it says a lot about your business to your current or future employees, as well as any clients or any other visitors. By creating a modern, forward-thinking image that is an extension of your corporate branding,you will be displaying your business in the best possible light. Ideal to gain clients or to retain talented employees.
  • Improve communication and collaboration.
    Relocating your office offers the perfect opportunity to understand how your employees communicate and collaborate. As the cornerstone of any successful business, this is an important aspect to understand and get right.
  • Reduce costs.
    By adopting agile office design principals when moving to a new, smaller office space or while optimising the layout of your current workspace, businesses can make immediate and long-term cost savings on such outgoings as unnecessary space rental, and utilities. Adopting an agile office design also cuts out the need for excess desk space and office furniture costs,whilst encouraging collaboration between employees with more engaging work environments.

What impact does the right office furniture have?

The importance of furniture in the modern workplace cannot be underestimated.

Having low-or poor-quality furniture harms the working abilities of an employee and may even lead to health complications too. Having the right furniture also conjures an image of your business; it can make the working environment look attractive; playing a big part in the first impressions of your company.

When thinking about the types and styles of furniture you'd like, you should consider:

  • The shapes and sizes of furniture.
    In previous decades there was generally only one-or-two different desk shapes, so design choice was extremely limited. Today, however, there is a vast range of different shapes and sizes, all designed to suit the aesthetics of the office, as well as to offer employees a better way of conducting their business.

    As an example; if employees are required to work together, collaborating on projects, a desk that is designed to get everyone together to sit alongside each other comfortably, will be ideal to increase communication and encourage everyone to participate. For those businesses looking to create more space, whether for social distancing or otherwise, a better-defined desk setup can improve the flow of movement within the office, helping people to move around more freely.
  • The quality of furniture.
    The comfort and functionality of your chairs and desks play a role in how your employees experience their working days. If you think about it, employees will be sat on/at these installations for around 8 hours a day, so a chair that doesn't offer the right level of comfort will cause a distraction.

    Choosing the right type of furniture can aid them in their work and even avoid possible back and neck injuries. Ergonomic furniture provides an ideal way for employees to experience comfort during their working day. Such types of furniture can be adjusted to fit whatever an individual's requirements may be.
  • The colours and styles of furniture.
    Just like the paint and paper on the walls,the colours and styles of furniture have a huge impact on the mood and productivity of a workplace. In fact, the colours of the décor and furniture should complement each other; fit them together and it will help set the exact feelings you're looking to promote.
  • Using furniture as a storage solution.
    Desks that have inbuilt storage is a great way to cut down on clutter and reduce the amount of space you need for storage. This will open up more space around the office to do with what you please; whether that's more working space or anything else you need.
  • Smart office furniture solutions to divide the office.
    If you need your office space to perform different functions,then the need to divide it up is an obvious decision to make; different types of furniture can help. You may want to introduce open plan areas for people to work together, coupled with individual cubicles for people to work alone,avoiding distractions and noise. Then there are meeting rooms to host important clients (high-quality executive seating) and a relaxing breakout room for staff to take breaks and to hold informal meetings in, collaborating on projects.
What impact will COVID-19 have on offices in 2021?

After a third national lockdown was imposed in January 2021, people are quite naturally worried about what the future of the workplace will look like once such measures are lifted.

Following the initial lockdown in March 2020, the UK Government introduced several COVID-safety measures that businesses needed to follow to ensure that they offer employees a safe environment to work in. This is not just important for legal and health reasons, but by introducing such measures now, when the time comes to return to the workplace, you will be able to get everyone back, operating as close to pre-COVID levels as possible.

Whether it's re planning your desk layouts to follow social distancing and to create one-way systems, the introduction of screens between desks and the rolling out of sanitising stations; it only takes small changes to get these aspects in place for whenever everyone returns to work.

As part of the COVID regulations for businesses, you will need to undertake the following:

  • An assessment of your workplace for any COVID-19 risks.
  • Communicate your COVID-19 safety plan with staff and any guests you host.
  • Implement the guidelines set out by the UK government and follow sanitation and social distancing policies.
  • Constantly review the effectiveness of the measures you have in place.

Find out more about how we can help design your workspace for COVID measures

Small office refurbishments and their impact

It can be easy to assume that it's the bigger firms who benefit most from a bespoke office design; they have the budgets for it, after all. This is rarely the case as even the smallest of businesses can benefit from making customised changes to the layout of their offices. The best thing is that it doesn't have to cost the earth to do so.

The ways in which any SME can benefit from a customised office layout, include:

A refurbishment and refresh of tired spaces.

'Office refurbishment' doesn't just mean a complete overall of the interiors;it can be just the key areas that are improved or changed. This is especially helpful if say, you're happy with how the majority of the workplace operates; you may just want to improve on an aspect or introduce something extra (so why rip everything up when you don't have to?)

Key areas of any office may include meeting rooms, breakout areas, kitchens, receptions, storage facilities…basically anything that the business needs, can be incorporated in to the current design of the workplace.

An extension of cramped spaces.

Usually, a business that requires an expansion has reached the space limit in their existing building, causing them to look elsewhere for more suitable floor space. However, it's never as simple as selecting the right-sized building in another location; it could be the case that your office is in the perfect location already and moving may actually damage the business in the long-term.It's a catch-22; stay and not grow or move and struggle to attract the clients and staff needed to push the business on.

In many situations, we have found that many of our clients are able to stay on at their present location and expand their working space by using smart office fit out methods; working out an office design plan to utilise every square yard of space available to suit everyone.

This is what's known as a 'workplace consultancy' and consists of the office experts' undertaking clear dialogue with you to understand how everything (and everyone) works, offering advice on office trends to relate how the latest design and technological innovations can aid day-to-day processes, as well as office management; observing how the business currently works and what can be done to improve it via the design of the office. This is how you will get the best out of your office floor space.

An update of furniture and other peripherals.

While some office furniture may serve us well for many years, there may come a time, whether for aesthetic or functional reasons, when it will need updating.Items like ergonomic chairs and stand-up desks have been created with modern working practices in mind (as well as to give a new lease of life to the look and feel of the spaces they're in).

Then there are the technological aspects of the office to consider; their impact on the office's layout itself in particular.

By harnessing the advantages of the wireless,high-speed internet we have available today, offices can be redesigned to fit the needs of the people who work there rather than them, having to 'make do'with the limitations of the environment.

Ultimately, this thought should be the beating heart of any successful workspace of any size; people-led, not building systems-led.

What are my next steps?

Would you like to learn more about how your business may benefit from its own customised office design? Then the Oaktree team are on hand to help with any questions you have.

We operate a completely FREE, no-obligation workplace consultancy that evaluates all your requirements, seeing how they're possibly hindered by the current set up,before creating a unique design proposal. Taking the form of 2-D and 3-D images,it is the perfect way to get an insight into what your ideal office interiors may look like, without you having to commit a single penny.

Sound good? Then why not get in touch with us for an informal chat today?

Give us a call on 0345 21 86955 or send your queries via e-mail to hello@oaktreeoffice.com and we'll be in touch as soon as possible.
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