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Industrial fitout – the importance of getting it right first time

Caleb Holding


Office Design And Build In Surrey

Manufacturing is one of the UK’s most essential and paramount sectors, with its output ranking ninth globally with respect to the ONS, employing just short of under 3 million people – yet has been reported in 2019 to account for £192 billion in GDP. The growth of manufacturing, warehousing and logistics is that of an exponential one, averaging an increase of 1.4% yearly since 1948, with the majority of production allocated towards food and drink, transport, and pharmaceuticals and chemicals.

With the implications of the recent global pandemic as well as Brexit, suppliers are seen temporarily experiencing disruption when it comes to the export of goods and services. Now more than ever before is it vital to strengthen the efficacy of local production processes and the quality of goods produced to ensure that their supply can meet the demand of a rapidly growing population. Not to mention, technological advancements now allow manufacturing to become more accessible to rising start-ups and SMEs – not including the 80% of manufacturers that are looking to invest in new technologies to increase production output, leading us to the approach of the “fourth industrial revolution”.

However the ability to reach maximum growth and operating potential for the majority of manufacturing and warehousing facilities is often seen restricted by practical and efficient working space, limiting the implementation of additional machinery, workforce and overall storage capacity.

Reviewing the use of existing working space, and restructuring the layout or refurbishing the site where necessary to ensure its optimum use, can save on any upfront investment in capital associated with relocation – especially when it comes the time and cost behind allocating the right team, operating space and any other additional resources required for the job.

At AW Spaces, our team of consultants can help do exactly just this. We’ll review your commercial and industrial site, suggesting possible ways where you can better utilise your working space – whether it’s from a design, capacity or practical use aspect, we’ll work with you every step of the way to create a productive work environment that’s fit for purpose, safe and welcoming, whilst also being tailored to your brief and meeting all your requirements where possible. We’ve worked with Huber and Suhner on a phased refurbishment of their existing facilities as well as Surrey Nanosystems on a fitout of their new premises.

When it Might be Time to Change Your Workplace

When it comes to manufacturing and industrial sites, reviewing your workplace occasionally is crucial to ensure your staff are working in a safe environment and that you’re able to operate daily tasks more effectively given the space, structure and layout available to you. Below highlight common reasons as to why you should consider making a change to your workplace.

Change in Operations

A change in manufacturing operations or business strategy may mean that additional space is required for implementing new machinery that your current site or layout cannot allow, or that your existing site cannot facilitate the installation of new machinery or equipment given restrictions on what the current site can offer (in which case relocation may be inevitable).

Alternatively, it might be that you’re looking for solutions for workplace related challenges your team have been experiencing e.g. lack of desk space, private rooms for calls, teams being situated on different floors, toilets and washroom facilities that need upgrading, break-out and coffee areas that aren’t as accessible as preferred etc.

Increase in workforce

If your business has seen a recent dramatic growth, it might be that you’re considering a larger workplace to accommodate additional staff running day-to-day operations as your business grows which otherwise isn’t possible given the limited working space (or maybe your workplace isn’t currently facilitated towards new methods of working e.g. hot-desking).

Approaching the End of a Lease

You may be approaching the end of your lease and potentially want to begin exploring other options that might be more suitable size wise or facility wise. You may also be considering ways to minimise operational costs through reducing quarterly rental payments in which case carrying out market analysis for commercial properties for your relevant area is necessary.

Reshoring Production

You may be thinking of relocating your operations back to the UK or if you’re primarily located overseas and are thinking of expanding your operations and are reviewing the logistics of setting up a manufacturing site within the UK.

Aesthetic Improvements

It might be that your workplace is a little outdated and is in need of a change to re-brand and modernise your working space in order to avoid falling behind your competitors, as well as attract new talent or clients to your business.


Refurbishment vs Relocation – what you need to consider:


Of both refurbishment and relocation, the former is considered simpler to achieve, providing your current site is able to facilitate your short-term goals as well as your plans for the near future for growth and future expansion.

Refurbishment projects are suitable for solving problems related to the layout or space i.e. you may be experiencing a lack of office rooms for private meetings or a lack of space in the warehouse for additional forklifts or shelves – in which case reorganising the layout or renovating the space can be a simple solution to allow you to make better use of your site’s space whilst also accommodating to both short term needs and long term goals.

Whilst refurbishment may seem like a simple solution, there are still a fair few factors to consider such as:

• Noise: Whilst the most ideal scenario is to have the refurbishment take place outside of working hours to minimise disruption to your work, it will still need to take place within reasonable times to avoid inconvenience to neighbours or for those living close by.

• Disruption: Planning when and how the refurbishment can take place during the day whilst minimising temporary impact on production.

• Health and safety: Having renovations be carried out in a safe and secure manner whilst complying with health and safety regulations in the workplace.

• Construction waste: Ensuring that any waste is disposed of in accordance with national waste regulations and environmental standards.

• Working to a project brief: Managing the project to ensure it meets the desired timeline and budget alongside your requirements above all else.

• Budget: Keeping within the allocated budget will ultimately depend on the site and building itself, what changes are required to the current layout and structure, any mechanical or electrical work needed to be done (and the current conditions of these), additional furniture or machinery that need to be installed etc.

Areas of your industrial site to be considered for refurbishment:

• Warehouse: Additional storage space to maintain stock levels of goods
• Manufacturing: To streamline and improve production processes
• Pick and Pack: Adding racking and shelving units for organisation
• Space divisions: Implementing metal walls, mesh walls, doors/shutters, mezzanine

• Interior design: Designing an attractive and inviting space to encourage productivity
• Meeting rooms: Creating secluded areas for private meetings and calls
• Breakout area: Separate areas for coffee breaks to improve staff wellbeing and morale, and to promote cross team communications.
• Toilets/changing rooms: Implementing showers to encourage cyclist commuters

Additional facilities
• Car parking / bicycle racks : Creating additional parking and installing dedicated bicycle rack
• Security: Installing CCTV and alarms around your site for a piece of mind
• Loading / unloading areas: Installing signage throughout site to ensure safe loading and unloading
• Repairs or painting: Reducing signs of wear and tear
• Lighting: Improving lighting along corridors, inside meetings rooms, around staircases
• Accessibility: Installing lifts or elevators for increased accessibility


If your site cannot accommodate your current daily tasks nor your future plans to grow, then it might be time to consider relocation. However, finding both a suitable location and building site for your business requires considerable planning and analysis prior to commitment and execution.

Finding a suitable location to relocate to can be somewhat challenging as it will need to meet all the requirements you, maybe unknowingly, already have in place e.g. a location that your current employees are able to commute to, a site that is widely accessible and connected to major road networks for couriers and pallet networks etc. Not to mention, finding a suitable commercial building for your business can also present its own sets of challenges when it comes to ensuring it ticks off every box in your list i.e. ensuring the building is able to facilitate the basic day-to-day operations, has sufficient working space in the office, factory and warehouse etc

Needless to say, it’s also necessary to review the logistics of relocating and everything that comes along with it including dismantling and lifting heavier pieces of machinery, having a temporary storage solution whilst you move, cleaning up and ensuring the old site is returned in its original condition and getting set up at the new location when it comes to IT, security, CCTV etc.

If relocation is something that you’re considering, AW Spaces can help manage your relocation project to completion and start by suggesting potential suitable commercial properties for your business, as well as work alongside agencies to help secure you a space that will go beyond your requirements and more. If you’re having trouble deciding between a number of properties, we’ll even carry out a side-by-side comparison for you by covering a multitude of parameters to allow you to make a decision most suitable for you and your business. Additionally, we even help to coordinate the removal process as well as getting set up in your new location (and go as far to communicating the nature of your relocation to your clients and stakeholders). We’ll take care of everything you’ll need in order to get you settled in your new space so that you can continue to focus on your business whilst we focus on the moving.

Leasing and purchasing commercial property – what you need to consider:

If you’re thinking of settling long term and are contemplating leasing or purchasing commercial property for your business, it’s important to first and foremostly consider hidden costs associated with leasing or purchasing (many of which are often overlooked) such as stamp duty, surveyor and solicitor fees, insurance, service costs, property deposits, running costs, repairs and maintenance etc – which are just a few of many to be named. Analysing the cost versus benefit and forecasting your return on investment can help you ultimately decide which direction would best suit your business, and will help facilitate the direction it’s growing in.

Understanding the basic requirements you’re after will ensure that the new commercial property will suit current production tasks, as well as account for any plans you may have for future growth and expansion. This should include roughly determining the size or square feet of the site you’re after to run your operations whilst also taking into account height requirements when it comes to production-related machinery e.g. tanks, forklifts, storage space etc. Having a list of requirements of what the building must offer (be it the electrical works, plumbing, drainage facilities etc) is crucial for manufacturing and production.

Aside from considering the basics for leasing or purchasing commercial property such as the costs associated and the requirements of what the building premise should offer, there are also a number of legalities you’ll need to be aware of prior to entering a commercial property lease agreement.

Prior to signing a lease or a mortgage, it is recommended that you have a qualified surveyor review the property’s condition and its immediate surroundings, and have this compiled into a report by a solicitor to ensure that the expectations of the Schedule of Condition to be met are fair. This should take into account the overall condition of the building, any general wear and tear seen, the condition of the land (potentially including any pre-existing contamination seen), the building’s floor, roof and wall conditioning etc. Lease options are usually categorised into 2 types – one being responsible for the repair and maintenance of the property itself under an internal repairing and insuring (IRI) agreement, and the other extending to the responsibility of maintaining the property and its immediate surroundings under a full repairing and insuring (FRI) agreement.

For commercial properties under lease, if you expect to be leasing long-term, it is likely you’ll be needing to make alterations having reviewed the building or site and will need to receive consent from property management or the landlord via a license for alterations prior. In most cases, this can be a relatively long and complex process and can take up to 12 months to receive planning permission and coordinate the logistics of any refurbishment plans before it’s able to take place. For this it’s best to speak with a workplace consultant to start in order to understand the capabilities and extent of alterations you’ll be able to achieve (be it simple refurbishments or larger renovations to the building) as whether you will need planning consent will ultimately depend on your use class.

If you need guidance or advice when it comes to making changes to a commercial property, our team of consultants at AW Spaces are experts in project managing the design and fitout of your site, including working directly with property management companies, landlords and local authorities so that you can have just one point of contact amidst the complexity of the process.

Booking a Consultation with AW Spaces

Refurbishment, renovations and relocation for commercial and industrial sites involves undertaking a handful of special measures to ensure safe and careful execution. That’s why when you book a consultation with us at AW Spaces, our team of expert workplace consultants will closely work with you to ensure that we understand your vision and have all your requirements at hand. We understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to creating a workplace that’s functional, intelligently designed and also meets your company’s branding and core values.

After assessing your site, we’ll compile a detailed report of the use of space at your industrial site (in which we’ll review the current layout, tasks being completed in the current space on a daily basis, space being occupied by equipment or machinery, space available etc) in order to determine the best way forward for improving your workplace if you’re in need of some direction or general guidance of what may be best. Working with your requirements in mind, we’ll explore all the options available to you given your cost and timeline allocations so that you can have your dream workplace finally come to life.

Our vibrant consultancy team are made up of individuals that cover the full spectrum when it comes to successfully delivering your new and improved workplace – from experienced designers, space planners, workplace consultants, estimators, project managers and site managers. Together, we have a strong portfolio in working to manage a multitude of industrial and manufacturing projects from concept through to execution, and we will, without a doubt, be able to help you get your project running and off from the ground.

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