The third in our series on Office Relocation
Relocating an office can be both exciting and stressful, as well as being one of the most expensive decisions made by a company. This makes planning vital for a successful move. The following outlines key considerations when moving a company, from early planning stages to the actual move into new office premises.
The first step in relocating is to identifying the team responsible for organising the move, including a senior-level champion who will make decisions. Roles and responsibilities should be clearly identified for each departments involved in the planning process, including finance, facilities, IT, operations, marketing, human resources and senior managers. Moves can cause stress and anxiety, and keeping staff informed is a good way to avoid misunderstandings and confusion. Staff should have opportunities to provide feedback and access information about the move throughout the process. In some cases, engagement with trade unions and employees directly affected by the move is required under the Information & Consultation of Employees Regulations. Other stakeholders may also need to be engaged, including the parent company, board members, department heads, and regulators.
Finding the right location
Prior to planning a move, companies should identify requirements and priorities for the new location. Defining these will help ensure that the right location is identified. The location should have good access to potential employees with the skills needed to support the company. Consider transportation links and services, including public transport, highway and road access, and parking. The new location should allow employees to have a reasonable commute from their home and also be easy for clients and others to visit. There should also be local amenities for employees, such as shops, restaurants and other services. Once a site is selected, a full survey should be carried out to determine the condition of the building and identify potential issues that may affect costs as well as the design of the new office.
Budgeting for your office move
A budget for the move should be established early. Having a clear sense of the cost for a move will avoid compromising the company’s financial health. The planning team should obtain full cost estimates for a budget for the entire move, including planning fees, design and remodelling costs, occupancy costs, transaction fees, insurance costs, maintenance costs, utilities, storage fees, furniture and equipment costs, security, marketing, health and safety assessments, disposal costs, and other relevant fees and costs. A contingency should be included for any unforeseen costs or overruns. A tax expert should be consulted to identify any tax break opportunities that might offset relocation costs. In addition to the relocation costs, planners should consider financial impacts in the longer term such as lease terms and costs. Planners should explore incentives offered by landlords or property managers and negotiate a rent-free period, and fully understand lease conditions. It is also important to understand business rates for the new office. Insurance should also be purchased and in place before any work begins on the new location.
Most relocation costs relate to the design of the new location, as well as costs related to fitting it with necessary equipment and furnishings. Design and fit out consultancies provide specialised services to help companies in the early stages of a move. They can help determine the exact amount of space required for your company, survey a property and develop cost estimates. Consultancies also help companies visualise their new space to help inform decisions. Feasibility studies should also be carried out for new spaces, which can also be completed by the consultancy. These studies will help determine whether a new office has the space and amenities needed for the company.
Once a site is selected and a lease has been signed, it will be time to develop a detailed layout for the new space. The layout should include spaces such as offices and work stations, boardrooms and meeting rooms, kitchens, toilets, and more. Consideration of storage spaces is also essential, and many times overlooked. The layout should also consider the look and feel of the space, including a colour scheme and other elements they reflect the company’s overall identity and brand. Designs must consider relevant regulations, including health and safety and accessibility requirements in the Disability Discrimination Act and Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations. Where possible, environmental and energy efficiency considerations should be built into the development of the new space’s design.
When the layout is finalised, it is time to find and purchase furniture and office systems. Furniture should be practical and consider health and safety needs of employees such as ergonomics. Consider value for money and the full costs of buying furniture, including additional costs related to delivery and assembly. Furniture should also reflect and respect the identity and brand of the company, as well as the overall look and feel of the office space. It is important to understand what office systems are in place and what additional systems are needed, including computers, printers, servers, power and data points, telephone lines, and more.
Before the move, employers should let staff, clients, suppliers and other stakeholders know about the timing of the move and details about the new location. This can be done with a letter or by email, as well as through updates to the company website. All company publications including business cards and stationary should be reprinted to include the new address. Speak to IT specialists about the transition and any necessary testing once the move is complete. During the move, a removals company should be hired to arrange and manage the shipment of items from the old office to the new location. All crates should be packed carefully and clearly labelled. Staff should be informed of their responsibilities for packing or removing personal items. Identifying people to manage the move and be at both sites will help ensure things go smoothly. Once the move is complete, inspect the new location and test everything to verify that things like telephones and computers are operating properly. It might also be a good idea to celebrate the move with staff.
Working with the right people is essential for any successful move. When choosing a property agent, select one that comes with quality references and works nationally. The agent should have fair and transparent fees, as well as an excellent understanding of your technical requirements and the areas where you are looking to relocate. A design and fit out consultant should also provide full cost estimates. They should have experience and expertise in surveying and space planning, interior design including furniture selection and procurement, move management, planning permission, and health and safety. They should also provide services related to plumbing, telecommunication, climate control, mechanical and electric design and installation. Consultants should guarantee on-time completion as well as have the necessary insurance and financial capacity to absorb the costs of the move. Any contractors should also be accredited and experienced, and have a good environmental track record to ensure all waste is tracked and dispose of property in compliance with the law.
Next in our Company Relocation Series: Office Relocation Checklist
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