The business case for designing - and building - well-planned, attractive and productive workplaces argued in the British Council for Offices' Office Fit-out Guide.
The aim of the best-practice guide to provide a detailed briefing on the requirements for a fit-out project by identifying those questions that clients should ask themselves - and their project team - before any project starts as well as during the life of the project. This approach has the full backing of Ian Standing, chairman of the Midlands chapter for the BCO, who says: "The guide makes clear that a good fit-out is one that minimises business disruption; balances businesses' current and future needs, revitalises the business by harnessing change and adopting improved working practices, creates a good workplace working environment - and all at an affordable price.
"The elements of a successful fit-out project include fitness-for-purpose, timely completion that is free of defects, appropriate overall build and aesthetic quality, occupant satisfaction and client delight.
"Time spent before the project inevaluating business aspirations and needs will contribute to a more effective solution."
Tim Battle, chair of the Office Fit-out Guide Steering Group, says: The importance of the guide to occupiers is that it helps to make them examine the business case for the fit-out, and for the contractor and professional team, it enables them to reassure clients that it is being carried out in accordance with best practice."
Another enthusiastic supporter of the launch of this important new document is Jon Rouse, chief executive of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).
"CABE is pleased to support this guide. The quality of our working space has a huge impact on people's daily lives," says Mr Battle.
"In addition, in an increasingly knowledge-based economy, the design of our office space could have profound impact on the UK's economy."
The guide, partly funded by the Department of Trade and Industry DTI) through its Partnership In Innovation programme, was launched in Birmingham by construction minister Nigel Griffiths.
"The DTI has invested #60,000 into this new guide to help the industry deliver well-planned, attractive and productive workplaces," explains Mr Griffiths.
"The guide is a practical document for daily use and will give clients who commission fit-outs a better understanding of the processes involved, enabling them to make more informed choices about the style and design of the office workplace they really need.
"The successful completion of thisguide is a tremendous credit to all those concerned."
Government support for this project reflects the fact that the British Council for Offices' (BCO) goal of creating the first guide to fit-out best practice met several of the DTI's key policy aims that lie at the heart of its Construction Sector Unit's agenda for construction research and innovation.