Manufacturing facilities rely on highly skilled workforces to maintain a competitive advantage. In tight labor markets, it’s more important than ever to provide a pleasant working environment conducive to productivity. But the lack of quality office space and meeting rooms can be a major challenge.
Some consider adding onto a facility or reconfiguring their office layout to maximize space. When a facility needs more offices but the option of a building renovation or expansion is untenable, modular offices are a good solution. They incorporate office space into an existing footprint with minimal disruption and can benefit companies in many ways.
What is modular office design and what are the benefits of modular offices? Read on to learn more.
What are Modular Offices?
Modular offices are a type of modular building construction that provides either temporary or permanent office space for manufacturing facilities and other commercial structures. Modular office units are prefabricated off site using a panel system, and are assembled once they arrive at their destination.
They are typically one or two story structures that are placed inside a warehouse or production floor. The walls of most modular offices are self-supporting, typically made with steel or extruded aluminum frameworks and drywall with a poly coating that resists abrasions and is easy to clean. The walls can be hollow core panels or insulated, providing greater energy efficiency and sound control. They can come prewired for easy electrical hookup, and HVAC may also be preconfigured.
Some modular office uses include meeting rooms, break rooms, and training rooms. The most common uses are private workspaces for plant managers, warehouse managers, engineers, and others who need to remain easily accessible on the shop or warehouse floor.
Benefits of Modular Office Design
1. Shorter Lead Times
Modular office solutions are ideal for projects that need a quick turnaround. Minimizing disruption from construction crews and downtime on the plant floor is one of the top reasons that manufacturing facilities opt for modular offices. Prefabricated panels show up ready to install and are practically plug-and-play.
One use case that required quick turnaround is a manufacturing plant in Iowa that was damaged by a tornado. The facility chose prefab offices to help it get back to full capacity as quickly as possible. By going with a modular office setup, it took only four months to complete. To build back using traditional construction methods would likely have taken about twice as long.
2. Cost Savings
A major reason that modular office spaces are so appealing is their cost advantages. Much of these savings come in the form of labor, which can be reduced by about 60–70% over traditional construction. Because the panel systems, electrical, HVAC, and other components are already in place, assembly and installation is relatively easy.
Materials and the shipping for modular structures, on the other hand, can cost a bit more. As a result, the overall cost savings on a project typically ranges between 20–25%. An added benefit is the ability to amortize modular construction costs over several years, bringing potential tax advantages.
3. Smoother Permitting Process
Generally, depending on the area where construction will take place, modular offices require fewer permits. Manufacturers of modular offices have engineers who can ensure their fabricated units are built to local codes. The electrical and mechanical are prewired to specifications, and an inspector may only need to approve materials and routing once in place. Creating a smoother permitting process is another way to save time and money, creating fewer headaches and loopholes to jump through along the way.
Modular offices can be installed in most any open area with ample space, whether a warehouse, loading dock, or shop floor. Because they’re constructed of panel systems that fit into a channel, they can be configured into multiple sizes, modified, or even disassembled and moved to another area should the need arise. There are multiple options to choose from, including windows, doors, flooring, acoustical grid ceilings, roof decking, and more. The interior of a modular office can be designed for visual appeal and be fitted with commercial furnishings, much like a regular office.
Potential Downsides of Modular Office Design
Aesthetically, most modular offices look similar from the exterior, having an industrial look to them. Since they’re typically located inside manufacturing facilities, this isn’t a major concern for most. They are also generally not suited for highly customized designs and floorplans that might be featured in a traditional office construction project.
Overall, modular office designs have a lot to offer manufacturers who want an economical and efficient way to increase their office space. It’s still critically important to have a construction manager oversee all the elements of such a project, however. Coordination and communication between contractors, the modular office manufacturer, inspectors, subcontractors, and the project owner is a critical aspect of success.
To learn more about modular office construction, contact the experts at The Samuels Group for a complimentary consultation. Also download our contractor questionnaire guide below with additional topics to bring to the table.