Moving office - six key factors for success

KWB Workplace

Moving office is a rare event for many organisations and can be an expensive, disruptive and potentially difficult time.

However, done correctly, it can provide a boost in profitability, staff recruitment and retention, while still achieving value for money.

Here are six key factors you will need to get right to make your office move a success.

1. Timescales

Start thinking about your office move at least two years before you need to move.

The office market can experience shortages, so you may not be able to find office space which suits your needs which is immediately available. If your chosen premises are new-build or being purpose-built, it can often take between nine months and two years for the development to reach completion.

This longer timescale also allows for contingencies and extended order times for furniture, equipment, plant and utilities. If you are planning to move from your current office space at the end of a lease, or to exercise a break clause, contact your solicitor to ensure that it is done at the right time and in the right way. Many notice periods are at least 12 months.

2. Size

Moving office is an ideal time to align your office space with modern working practices. Many organisations waste thousands of pounds on unneeded office space every year because they have not responded to new flexible ways of working.

Commission a workspace review. This will provide an assessment of your current and future needs based on your business plan. Typically you need to allow 80 to 100 sq ft of office space per person, but this depends on your type of business and whether you want your people to be able to engage in modern working practices such as agile working, hot desking and working from home.

Consider also whether you can eliminate any storage needs or move them off site. Your workspace consultant will be able to present your best options. It may be possible that by reconfiguring your current office space, you can remain there and, with professional advice, look to extend your lease.

3. Location

Location can have a real impact on cost.

City centres are generally more expensive than business parks and out of town, but even in the same location the cost of accommodation can vary greatly according to the position and specification of a property.

Decide where will best suit your people and your clients? Do you need car parking? Access to local amenities? Access to the motorway network, rail network, an airport or public transport route?

4. Searching

You can search for office space yourself on-line and by contacting local commercial property agencies and developers to see what is available. You can also negotiate rent yourself.

However, lots of commercial property never makes it to the open market. If you engage a local experienced commercial property agency they will conduct a thorough search for you and provide the best options in your chosen location which meet your budget.

This will save a great deal of executive time. When you have made a choice, the agency will be able to negotiate the best deal on the entire cost of your property.

Of course this service is not free and how agents charge varies. Some will charge you a flat percentage of your agreed rent, but others will charge a percentage of savings they generate on total property costs above what they believe a non-professional could achieve.

5. Budgeting

Rent typically makes up only 60% of office property costs, so ensure you budget for service charges, business rates, IT and telecoms services and other utilities in your new office.

There are also many one off costs associated with moving, not just the office design and fit-out and actually moving your people to your new premises, but also legal costs, stamp duty, other professional fees, IT costs, and marketing and printing.

There are also costs associated with leaving your old premises. Consult a building surveyor to help you minimise dilapidation payments due to your landlord.

6. Office Design and Fit-Out

Flexibility on new working trends, and factors such as design, fit-out and decoration which impact on the atmosphere of the office itself, have been proven to raise productivity and overall employee satisfaction, making it easier to attract, recruit and retain staff.

Office design can also impact positively on your clients and make you stand out in your marketplace.

Think about what you want to achieve in your new office in terms of identity, branding, and visitor and staff experience.

Hire a good independent office design / fit-out or move management consultancy early in the project, which will offer a complete turnkey solution.

This will save you time, money, and the hassle of managing multiple parties. Beware of fit-out contractors, masquerading as independent consultants, or offering free office design.

Working closely with you, a true independent will plan and design the office you want to your budget.

They will then find and engage the best contractor, manage the contract and its delivery and manage the physical process of moving your office, to an agreed budget.