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What is a “Plug and Play” office space?

Plug and play office fit-outs are on the rise, primarily because they are arguably the most convenient type of commercial real estate for both landlords and tenants.  As the name suggests, a plug and play office space is ready for immediate occupancy, meaning the tenants can move in, plug in, and get to work. While plug and play office spaces are typically fully-fitted out for an all-inclusive fee, this does not include staff. This means that compared to fully-serviced workspaces they do not have receptionists, mail handlers or cleaners.

Primed, Interaction’s own plug-and-play service for commercial landlords, makes it easier to fit-out and let out property to tenants, reducing vacancy periods. What’s more, Primed spaces are designed with the future in mind, so new tenants can move into the property as soon as the previous ones have moved out. 

What are some of the main features of a plug and play office?

Some plug and play spaces will have more features than others, but most will include the following:

  • Fully furnished – All the essential furniture to get the job done. Plug and Play spaces will include desks, chairs, storage and telephones
  • High speed internet and phone lines – Nobody likes the dreaded two-week wait for wifi after moving. In the hybrid world we live in, the office would not be fit for modern use without seamless tech solutions
  • Utilities and Water – Typically plug and play workspaces will have heating and hot water included in the fee
  • Flexibility – Since these properties can easily be let and let again, they often have flexible, short-term leases

What is the difference between plug and play and a CAT A office fit-out?

A ‘CAT A fit-out’ refers to a space which has been fitted out to a basic standard. It has some similarities to plug and play, such as having heating, lighting and power installed before tenants move in. The main difference is that CAT A fit-outs do not include any furniture, so the tenant can be more specific in their personal furniture choices. 

Find out more about CAT A offices here.

‘Primed’ fit-out at The Landing (left) alongside a CAT A fit-out at St Stephens House (right).

What is the difference between plug and play and a CAT B office fit-out?

CAT B fit-outs include comprehensive elements such as interior design, furniture, décor items, designated areas (such as breakout, focus, meeting and main office space), as well as all the features provided by a CAT A fit-out.

Plug and play is similar to CAT B, since they both are ready for occupation immediately. However these two types of fit-out are directed at different groups of people. CAT B fit-outs are designed with a tenant in mind, often incorporating their branding and preferred working styles into the design. In comparison, plug and play fit-outs are landlord-focussed and can be let and re-let time and time again as a generic workspace for a range of tenants.You can read more about CAT B fit-outs here.

Primed fit-out at The Landing (left) alongside CAT B fit-out at Wollens (right).

As demonstrated above, plug and play is completely ready for occupation but broad in design, making it suitable for any tenant. This CAT B fit-out for Wollens includes interior styling, décor items and manifestations based on the specific tenant’s branding, as seen in the rainbow letter ‘O’ as a nod to their logo.

Interaction’s Ultimate Guide to Office Fit-Outs

Business owners, landlords and property developers can find everything they need to know about office fit-outs in our guide, including strategy, budgets and finding the perfect location.

What has caused the growth in plug and play office space?

There are several reasons why more and more businesses are choosing plug and play spaces.

  • Increased demand for flexibility – the short-term leases which plug and play offices are associated with are attractive to tenants who perhaps want to explore a new location before making long-term commitments.
  • Growth of the Gig Economy – a huge part of today’s workforce consists of freelancers and independent contractors in either temporary or part-time positions. There are several benefits to hiring gig workers such as reduced costs, a wider choice of talent and no contracts. Additionally, 79% of gig workers say they are more satisfied than those in traditional jobs. Whilst the gig economy rises, many employers are looking for more flexible and cost-effective office solutions.
  • Technology – Advancements in technology mean that it is no longer laborious to set up an office for use. For example, whilst we may have had thousands of physical files to sort and store in the past, this is often now managed virtually, without a second thought.
  • Convenience –  With minimal downtime or set up costs, tenants are attracted to spaces that will keep their productivity levels high, even around their move-in date, and allow them to seamlessly transfer their work from one office to the next.
  • Cost – Since no time or resources need to go into the set-up or redecoration of the office, plug and play spaces are hugely cost-effective for tenants.

What are the benefits of plug and play office space?

Immediate occupancy is of a huge benefit to a commercial property landlord, as well as commercial tenants. Plug and play designs are suited to the needs of both parties, with differing benefits for each.

Benefits for tenants

  • Furniture, and a fully equipped space – Saving the tenant money, time and resources 
  • Internet and phone lines – This helps to make a tenant’s move efficient and stress-free
  • Utilities and maintenance – Typically these costs are included in the rent, reducing the time and money businesses need to dedicate to these
  • Flexibility – Leases which allow tenants to avoid long-term commitment
  • Amenities – Whether this is a gym or a coffee shop, tenants may benefit from communal facilities
  • Immediate occupancy – Allowing the tenant to get their business up and running right away, and save on potential temporary relocation costs
Active Travel Facilities are a great way to attract tenants to your plug and play space.

Benefits for landlords

Primed offices are a fantastic option for landlords for a variety of reasons:

  • High occupancy rates – Since this type of office fit-out is in high demand, the occupancy rate can be extremely high
  • Reduced vacancy periods – The ready-to-use nature of plug and play space makes it easy to fill a vacancy
  • Increased rental income – Due to the fact they are fully-furnished, with utilities and maintenance included, plug and play offices usually command a higher rent than traditional spaces
  • Flexible leasing options – Landlords can offer flexible leases, which are attractive to tenants
  • Branding – Landlords can brand their property as ‘plug and play’ offices, which will help attract tenants looking for this type of space

How can landlords get a positive ROI from a plug and play office fit-out?

We’re not denying that the upfront cost for landlords setting up plug-and-play spaces may be higher than those for other types of office fit-out, However, the long-term rewards of filling vacancies quickly and keeping occupancy rates high means they can quickly reap the benefits.

The Landing makes use of an agile working approach, allowing businesses to thrive.

Landlords can implement several strategies to achieve a positive return on investment (ROI) from plug and play properties. Since there are so many appealing features for tenants, landlords are able to charge premium rental rates. After all, the space is set up for immediate productivity and efficiency, and provides many included extras and amenities.

It can be beneficial for the landlord to keep plug and play offices modern and attractive, which helps to not only retain the existing occupiers but allows them to stand out to prospective ones.
As part of our Primed service, we fitted out 7,000 sq ft workspace ‘The Landing’ in Bristol for Legal & General. Every floor includes a modern tea point, shower and toilet facilities, meeting rooms, open plan desk layout, high benches and ad hoc meeting areas, all with a great view of the river.

Plug and play spaces are fully furnished in a way that is suitable for a variety of businesses.

With the intention of being occupied immediately, the space is functional whilst being stunning, making reference to the building’s industrial past.

Expertly designed and built by Interaction’s Primed team, this project was a fast-turnaround, but completed to a high quality, equipping the landlord with a showcase plug and play workspace.

Primed fit-outs will include designated zones, such as this breakout zone at The Landing.

Time for Primed?

Attractive to tenants and landlords, plug and play workspaces speak for themselves, and we have no doubt they’re only going to continue to be high in demand. If you’re a commercial landlord and think that your property would benefit from a revamp from Interaction’s Primed team, get in touch. Our services don’t stop at Primed, we also offer a full suite of design and build services, so whichever type of office fit-out you require, we are here to help. Give us a call on 01225 485 600 or reach out through our website.

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