Fitting Out Your Knowledge: A Glossary of Commonly…


2D Drawing

A two-dimensional drawing usually showing layouts of workstations, lighting, ceilings, etc.

3D Drawing

A three dimensional lifelike drawing often produced from a two-dimensional drawing using sophisticated software, or alternatively hand drawn.



A valuation process which evaluates an office tenant’s requirements (e.g. location, space and size)


Abbreviation for air conditioning.

Acoustic Attenuation / Dampening

Methods of reducing sound and noise levels between areas

Activity Based Working

Activity Based working is a term that has come to describe the alignment of work activities with work settings or spaces. It can imply desk sharing but does not have to.


A mixture of sand and stone and a major component of concrete.

Agile Working

Describes how people work across a variety of spaces. The term usually implies using desk sharing to allow the building to rapidly respond to organisational (headcount) change

Ancillary space

The usable area provided accommodating locally shared spaces e.g. vending, printing, local meeting spaces

Amenity space

The spaces other than desking (e.g. coffee areas, meeting rooms, conferencing, social facilities).


Abbreviation for audio/visual


Base Plate

A solid piece of material that has enough strength and sturdiness to serve as the surface to which other things are attached to be supported.


BIFMA is the US trade body for business and institutional furniture manufacturers. They sponsor the development of environmental, safety and performance standards for office, healthcare and educational furniture (for UK furniture standards see FIRA).

Biophilic Design

Designs that take their incitement and incentive from nature and connect humans back into the natural environment. Introduced by E.O. Wilson in 1984, the term is becoming increasingly popular on a global scale – from furniture design to city planning.

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

A broad term that describes the process of creating a digital model of a building or other asset using object-oriented information. Now often used in mapping workplace interiors too.

Blocking and Stacking Diagram

A plan of where departments will be situated within a building.

Break Out Space (or Soft Seating Space)

An area designed for staff to meet or relax away from their desks, ideally equipped with informal seating, tables and refreshment facilities.

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method)

A recognised environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings, which was first launched in 1990. It is one of the most commonly used standards for best practice in sustainable building design, construction and operation and is a widely recognised measure of a building’s environmental performance. A BREEAM assessment evaluates a building’s specification, design, construction and use, such as energy and water use, the internal environment (health and well-being), pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management processes.

Budget Investment Report

A report listing what is involved in a project and how much it will cost to complete.

Building Regulation Approval

An approval that the drawings submitted conform to the current Building Regulations, given by a local authority or qualified person.

Building Survey

A report on a building by a building surveyor on the structural integrity of a building and its state of repair. This report would usually cover the condition of the structure, incidence of any defects to the fabric of the building and the state of repair of fixtures and fittings, services and plant installations. A building survey is often required by a lender prior to agreeing to a loan which is secured against the value of the property in question.



Abbreviation for computer aided design – usually used in reference to mock ups and floorplans.

Cat A

Office space fitted out to a standard where toilets, lifts etc. are operational and decor neutral.

Cat B

Office space fitted out ready for occupancy by staff, with all furniture and decor complete.


Abbreviation for computer-aided facility management – systems and software that allow managers to improve long-term monitoring, planning and evaluation of their facilities.

Carbon Footprint

The amount of carbon dioxide (or greenhouse gases) released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation or community.


Any cabinet-like furniture. Often used in reference to wood or laminate private office or conference room furniture accessories.


The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007). Objectives:

  • Improve health and safety in the construction industry.
  • Have the right people for the right job at the right time to manage the risks on site.
  • Focus on effective planning and managing risk – manage the risk not the paperwork.



The refurbishment of space that is already in use, but a change of use or more efficient use of space is required.


Clear Desk Policy

When all personal items must be returned to storage at the end of a period of use of a workstation.

Collaborative Workplace

A workspace in which employees are encouraged to move between different teams and locations, enabling workforces to connect and share information with a wider network of colleagues

Common Parts

Space within a building used by all staff and tenants (e.g. reception, stairwells and bathrooms).


An increasingly popular form of collaborative space, coworking environments are often available on a ‘pay as you go’ or membership basis. These spaces are defined by their community-style approach, which encourages members to interact, collaborate and support each other. Classic coworking spaces uphold the key values of community, sustainability, openness, and accessibility.


Desk Sharing

A team area where people share desks between them (for example 12 people sharing 10 desks). The team or department ‘owns’ the team area and always works from the same area when in the building.

Defects Liability Period

The time span following completion of a project that the main contractor is responsible for any defects/snags.

Demountable (e.g. suspended ceilings or partitioning systems)

Easy to dismantle and re-erect.

Design Brief

A written document that states the goal; methods and timeframe of a project. Often developed by a person representing the business need for design and the designer. The document is focused on the desired results and function of design; not simply aesthetics.

Design and Build

A fit-out or refurbishment project where the design and construction are undertaken by the same company.

Detail and Build

A fit-out project where work is undertaken from a client’s specification and a design team is not required.


Environmental Policy

A public statement of an organization’s philosophy, intentions; methods and objectives regarding the environment. It refers to the commitment of an organisation to the regulations and other policy mechanisms concerning environmental issues.


Abbreviation for expression of interest. This is the process of letting the buyer know that an organisation is potentially interested in the contract being offered.


Ergonomics is the ‘science of work’ and describes how systems, tools and furniture should adapt to human requirements for comfort, wellbeing and productivity.



Abbreviation for movable furniture, fixtures and other equipment that have no permanent connection to the structure of a building or utilities.


Acronym for the Furniture Industry Research Assocation, this independent body tests, accredits and regulates to ensure furniture, materials and components to ensure products are safe, legal and fit for purpose.


A tradesman responsible for controlling specific sections of the work.

Flexible Working

A contractual arrangement where an individual works an agreed minimum of hours over a non standard working week or month. The term is also used to express a workplace strategy that encompasses flexible hours; desk sharing and mobility.


A project to develop an internal space into a state fit for its intended use.

Floor Box

A terminal with sockets for power, data and telephone connections.

Framework Agreement

An contract in which a group of suppliers are nominated to supply a range of goods and services usually following a competitive tender process.



The symbolic color associated with ecology, environmentalism and sustainability. The term often refers to goods and services, guidelines and policies that reduce or minimise ecosystems their impact upon the environment.


H & S. E.

Abbreviation for a Health & Safety Executive.

Handover and Closeout

The point of practical completion where all building work is finished and the tenant may now move into the space.

Health & Safety Manual

A manual containing details of all products used in the construction and information on subsequent maintenance procedures required.


Abbreviation for heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Hot Desk

A shared desk space, not allocated with one permanent user. Usually a ‘plug-and-play’ environment.



Abbreviation for an invitation to tender. This is a formal invitation to a small number of suppliers to make a detailed proposal for completing a particular piece of work.


An abbreviation for the International Organisation for Standardisation. This internationally independent, non-governmental organisation studies, develops and publishes a range of industrial; market-relevant standards.

ISO Standards

These accreditations ensure that products and services are safe, reliable; efficient and of good quality. For business, they are strategic tools that reduce costs by minimising waste and errors and increasing productivity. These range across an extensive selection of functions – including environmental, economic and social responsibilities.



A scratch and stain-resistant decorative overlay that adheres to particleboard or flatboard. Usually applied to desking and casegoods.


Abbreviation for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – a voluntary nationwide green building rating system developed by the US and Canada to recognise buildings and interiors for environmental leadership. The four levels of certification and accreditation are Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Letter of Intent

A letter confirming that it is the intention of the client to enter into a contract, usually subject to conditions.

Lump Sum Tender (or Single Stage Tendering)

A contractor’s proposal for a project giving an overall cost for all works.



Abbreviation for mechanical and electrical services. Work involving heating, air conditioning, power and lighting etc.

Main Contractor

The company that undertakes the planning, coordination and management of a project.

Move Management

The co-ordination and management of moving staff and/or equipment between offices or sites.



To instruct the main fit-out contractor to use the services of a particular professional.


O&M (Operating and Maintenance Manual)

An instruction manual, kept on site, for services that have been installed on site.


Abbreviation for Official Journal of the European Union. If any given contract value exceeds the procurement thresholds put in place by the European Union, the contract notice is usually placed in the Official Journal of the European Union. Threshold limits for Supplies and Services are approximately £140k and for works around £3.5m.

Open Book

An agreement where all costs (and cost savings) are completely transparent between the principal contractor and the client often used when the costs are likely to fluctuate and the profit for the contractor is pre-agreed.

Open plan

Term used in office design to describe large, open spaces that minimise the use of small, enclosed rooms (such as private and cellular offices). While an increasingly popular format in the late-20th Century, open plan spaces are now often used in conjunction with other quiet zones – giving staff the option as to where they want to work.



Often used in conjunction with Touchdown spaces, perching is the use of a ledge, shelf or other surface to create a new function for a space, including additional workspaces.

Planning Consent

A consent given by a local authority to construct a new structure or make visible changes to an existing structure, or change the use of a building.


Abbreviation for pre-qualification questionnaire. This is an application issued to ascertain the suitability of potential suppliers to provide goods, services or works as identified in the contract notice. It is likely to be the first phase in a two stage tendering process and you will be asked to provide details and evidence for company financial standing and technical capability.

Practical Completion

The day when a project is fit for beneficial use by the client.

Project Manager

The person responsible for the day-to-day running of a project.

Principal Contractor

The contractor responsible for health and safety during works, usually the main contractor.



Abbreviation for quality assurance. These are a set of activities intended to ensure that goods, services or works satisfy customer requirements in a systematic, reliable fashion. Accreditation to internationally recognised standards such as ISO are usually a good demonstration of this assurance.

Quantity Surveyor

A quantity surveyor manages all costs relating to building and civil engineering projects, from the initial calculations to the final figures. They focus on minimising costs and enhancing profit while ensuring all aspects of a project adhere to regulations, standards and quality control.


Radial layout

Often contrasted with Linear plans, Radial layouts have a single, central point of focus with a ‘rippling’ effect of circles moving outwards.

Raised Floor

An elevated structural platform above a solid floor (often a concrete slab) to create a hidden area for the passage of mechanical and electrical services.

Refurbishment (Refurb)

A project to renew space that has been used at some time, either to be renewed for a similar purpose or to prepare it for a change of use.

Remote Working (and Remote Workers)

Employees who work from home or somewhere other than the company’s office building. Also referred to as the ‘mobile workforce.’


The process of generating an image (or series of images) from a 2D or 3D model by means of a computer program.


The re-design and fitout of existing office space to allow for an increased number of occupants.

Restricted Tender

The second stage of a tendering process, only the companies who make the shortlist from the PQQ will be invited to tender, thereby ‘restricting’ the process to those candidates.


Schedule of Condition

A document describing the condition of a building at the beginning of a tenant’s lease.

Schedule of Dilapidations

A document describing the state of disrepair of a building which the landlord or tenant must correct at the end of a lease.

Scope of Works

Written details of all works involved in a project.

Serviced Office

A type of office space with short contract durations and a standard contract that is not negotiated by Solicitors. Serviced offices tend to be proposed on a cost per desk basis and offer a client a readymade office complete with phones, internet and furniture.

Shell & Core

A building project where the developer’s scope of works is the design and construction of the base building only, leaving a range of construction and fit-out works to be completed before the building is able to be occupied.

Site Manager

A permanent foreman on site that coordinates and take responsibility for day to day site management, including health and safety.

SKA Rating

The SKA rating tool is a RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) environmental rating system designed to assess and compare the environmental performance of fit-out projects for office buildings in the UK. Three levels of accreditation can be achieved: Gold, Silver or Bronze.


The process of checking a new building for minor and potential faults that may need to be rectified.

Space Plan / Space Audit

The process where information about an organisation is gathered and analysed to produce a plan for accommodating staff.

Strip Out

The removal of internal fixtures and finishes from a building.


A specialist company or tradesman employed by the principal contractor to carry out works.

Sustainable Design

The philosophy of designing physical objects, the built environment, and services to eliminate (or significantly reduce) the negative social, economic and environmental impact.

Swing Space

An area where staff can be temporarily housed while work is undertaken.


Task Chair

A chair intended for people to work at a desk or table; usually for computing or administrative activities.


The process and documents used by a client to select a principle contractor for a project.

Third space

Defined as a place between home or an informal environment and the formal workplace, the third space is a merging of the two. This is often realised in coffee shops, breakout areas and collaborative zones.

Touchdown Station

A workstation available for short periods of work with access to email etc.

Traditional Tendering

A fit-out or refurbishment where the client appoints a design team, a project management team and other professionals and the contractor is finally selected by means of a tendering process.

Two Stage Tender

First amount tendered will reflect the principal contractor’s management fee only for the project. The principal contractor is then appointed on this basis and the second stage tendering will then include subcontractors costs for works.

Turnkey Project

Where all elements of a project are supplied through one company.



A surface treatment that uses thin layers of wood applied to the substructure of desks and furniture, giving the impression of solid wood.


Abbreviation for value for money. This term is used to evaluate whether or not an organisation has obtained the maximum benefit from the goods and services it procures and provides.


Abbreviation for variation order. An alteration or amendment to a previously agreed design, layout or construction detail on site.


WEEE Regulations and Directive

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive has been introduced by the Government to reduce the impact of electronic equipment on the environment once it becomes waste. The main purpose of the directive is to encourage recycling and to set criteria for the collection, treatment, recycling and the recovery of all waste electrical items. The aim is to increase recycling and to reduce the amount of waste for disposal.


Often used in conjunction with coworking, a workhub is a flexible workspace offering an ‘office when needed’ service to modern micro businesses and mobile workers, including those that are home-based. Shared facilities available to users usually include bookable desks, formal and informal meeting spaces. Workhubs allow their members to access professional facilities as frequently or occasionally as suits them. This allows them to make smart use of space, serving more business users than traditional offices could house.

Work-life Balance

The concept of striking the right proportion between one’s work and all other activities. Many companies work-life balance initiatives involve flexible working options with employees choosing their ways of working.


Zero Waste

A philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all materials, components and products are both reused and reusable in future. This ensures no waste is sent to landfills and incinerators. The process recommended is one similar to the way that resources are reused in nature.



  • On time, on budget, all satisfied and our business is up and running. What more could you ask for?

    Total Jobs
  • We were very impressed with the design and you listened to what we wanted rather than just told us what you thought we should have.



  • Dan Glater

    As a Director at Oktra Reach, Dan is responsible for the strategic planning and continued growth of the company. He provides strate …Read More

Contact Us

Why not give us a call?

0203 872 5499

Drop us an Email

Come and have a chat!

Live Chat

Start typing and press Enter to search