Moving office or just getting bigger…

Whether simply reorganising or restructuring your current office space or considering an office move, it is important to think through the process carefully to ensure you make the most beneficial business decision in a cost-effective manner.

Don’t get caught out as others have done – by moving to smart new facilities, only to discover that the area rented is too large for their current (or future) needs. Spending company money on empty spaces will not help your profits!

Square footage requirements for businesses have recently changed due to ergonomically-improved workstation designs, smaller and faster computers and streamlined general equipment. Before making any decisions about moving, thoroughly examine your objectives for wanting/needing to redesign your existing space.

Perhaps moving isn’t actually required. Instead, should you consider reorganising the space that’s currently occupied? Will overhauling the décor to improve the company image be sufficient?

As part of your research, don’t overlook the fact that key managers and employees know and understand your business too. Involve them in your initial sessions, as their invaluable input about topics you may overlook could save your business money and an unnecessary office move.

Often, businesses discover that their needs can be met by reorganising the layout of their current office. Employing the services of an independent professional office space planner or architect could be a cost-saving alternative. Consult your local Chamber of Commerce or seek recommendations from business associates, friends or colleagues. Interview a few, ask for references and check them thoroughly, before signing any contract offered.

Compare costs carefully and if re-organising your current location looks like an economic alternative, consider this option first rather than assuming an office move is unavoidable. One word of caution – before you decide to alter what you already have and stay put, be mindful of any expansion plans that could affect the future workability of the current space.

If your business involves personal contact with customers, perhaps updating your business image with a “make over” (a commercial version of Gok Wan or T&S) will be enough. A smart new reception area and better display furniture could be all that’s required.

There are other key issues to consider:

Plan your floor size around business needs.
For example, some companies rely on lots of open floor space, whereas some need private offices to ensure confidentiality during meetings and business deals. Ensure you organise your space accordingly.

Watch out for electrical capacity limitations.
If your business has lots of computer equipment and other machinery, make sure you have adequate electrical outlets and sufficient electrical capacity to meet your requirements. You don’t want to cause a health and safety problem by lots of trailing extension leads all over the office floor. If you are considering moving to an older building, ensure the electrical system has been brought up to current legal requirements.

Check the floor load capacity.
Businesses that use lots of large equipment or have a large library (books or heavy archived files) must ensure the floors can bear the weight – or that it may be reinforced at a reasonable cost.

If, having carried out a thorough investigation and deciding a move is unavoidable, don’t wait too long as procrastination can cost your business time and money. Find out whether you must negotiate release from your current office space lease. During visits to potential new locations, don’t just accept the rent quoted. There are numerous newly built office spaces currently unoccupied, which could help you negotiate a better deal on your rent charges.

Whilst looking for potential new locations, refer to the following as a checklist:

  • Take into account location – ease of transport for employees and deliveries.
  • Price per square footage.
  • Whether the new location needs re-modelling – and any costs involved. Will the landlord offer to make some upgrades to ensure you rent the space?
  • Electrical requirements – and any potential upgrades.
  • Floor load requirements – any any potential upgrades.
  • Contact your telephone provider to find out about transferring existing numbers to your new location.
  • Specialist office removal companies – contact and obtain quotations.

Once you’ve located a suitable space and negotiations with the landlord are completed, don’t overlook the following:

  • Prepare change of address information for current clients.
  • Design artwork for office stationery showing the new address.
  • Schedule phone installation at the new office space and agree a date to transfer numbers from your previous location to the new one.
  • Arrange meter readings with previous landlords or arrange with the utility companies a cut-off date. Take meter readings yourself before moving out and inform the landlord or utility company, in writing, to avoid future disputes.
  • If you can reduce your stored papers, ensure any archived files and documents are destroyed confidentially by a specialist company.
  • Arrange your office removal date with the removals company. Ensure staff know their duties and responsibilities before, on the day of the move and once you arrive at your new location.
    Arrange for your old office space to be cleaned.
  • Ensure you organise extra help at home for family needs while you manage the move to the new location.
  • Organise your “New office launch” party – invite clients, take photographs or invite the local press. It helps to publicise your business in a positive way and keeps the local business community informed about where to find you now.

Moving offices is never easy but with thorough research, careful planning and expert assistance, a smooth transfer can be achieved.

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About the Author: Anne Huscroft’s career in relocation management and administration training has spanned over 30 years. Her first employer was a world-renowned multi-national company with a global workforce. Anne managed overseas/repatriation moves for numerous employees and trained new managers and administrators in company operational systems. Leaving due to marriage, Anne has continued to facilitate staff moves and train staff within SMEs and the Education sector. Two overseas assignments, living with her family elsewhere in Europe, have given Anne empathy for global living. She has assisted many expat families integrate smoothly into their new local community; drawing on her experiences to co-write “How to be a Global Grandparent”, due for publication early in 2009. The book offers solutions to global families about how to keep their special bonds alive, provides IT instructions and cost-effective communication guidelines. Since repatriation, Anne set up a consultancy specialising in relocation, education and organisation solutions. REO-Solutions is located in Cheshire, UK.

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