Why is Cat A+ making waves in the refurbishment sector?
Cat A and Cat B are firmly established terminologies when it comes to refurbishment. But could Cat A+, currently being pioneered by major players in refit and refurbishment, really be a game changer?
Positioned between Cat A and Cat B, a Cat A+ refit is almost as comprehensive as a tenant's instruction while meeting a landlord's request. With renovation an increasingly popular way to create flexible 'plug and play' workspace for the post-pandemic workforce, is Cat A+ truly the third way for refit
To determine whether Cat A+ is as innovative as it appears, it's important to understand where it intersects with, and differs from, Cat A and Cat B fit outs.
Cat A is implemented by a landlord looking to create a blank canvas for prospective tenants. It usually includes mechanical and electrical services, fire detection and basic decorating.
A Cat B refurbishment turns that blank canvas into a fully serviced office with full connectivity, work stations, breakout spaces and whatever functionality the client specifies. A Cat B fit out adds the aesthetics, branding and space optimisation required to create a functioning office space.
Cat A+ is conceived for tenants in search of office space who want just a little more than the standard Cat A finish while needing the flexibility of a coworking space. Landlords are pivoting towards the Cat A+ standard as the flexible office market now accounts for 20 million sq ft in London alone.
Benefits of Cat A+
For landlords, a relatively small investment can give them to access to a market that has grown 25% in recent years. Cat A+ offices are attractive for tenants and help decrease vacancy rates. They also attract a premium rent representing an excellent RoI.
Tenants appreciate the ability to occupy quickly without the prohibitive costs of a Cat B fit out. Cat A+ offices also offer increased flexibility when it comes to term lengths and leases. This type of office closely matches the requirements of SMEs and startups who need Cat B facilities and flashes of personality without the price tag.
Cat A+ vs coworking
Cat A+ workplaces win out over coworking spaces when your business needs its own front door. Your business will have the opportunity to display its own brand identity without the costs of Cat B and the anonymity of a short term coworking space.
There's no doubt Cat A+ has been driven by the rise of co-working spaces in recent years. But both have their appeal in a truly competitive marketplace.
Is Cat A+ here to stay?
Pre-pandemic, it was estimated that the UK needed 10 million sq ft of flexible working space. Despite the pivot to WFH and remote working, it seems unlikely that the bricks and mortar office is going anywhere anytime soon.
In fact Cat A+ could be just the trend to bring workers back to the office with its combination of benefits for all parties. What will be critical in driving the trend is the opportunity that Cat A+ offers SMEs to move into their own fully decorated office space without the financial hit of a Cat B refurbishment.
The post-lockdown workspace needs to offer something special to attract workers back to urban centres. The benefits of Cat A+ may have a critical part to play in delivering the return to the office.