Moving office can be a stressful time for all involved, with mistakes likely to affect the bottom line. A recent survey found that businesses often massively underestimate the cost of moving office while up to 82% of refurbishments are completed over budget. With moving house listed as the most stressful situations in adult life, behind the death of a loved one and divorce, business owners need to be careful in approaching an office move.
Bottom line essentials to keep in mind
1) Set a date to view your new office - Meet with your property consultant and find the office space and the landlord you want to deal with.
2) Settle on a lease - Read, revise and carefully negotiate the terms and conditions of your lease. This will bind you to a financial obligation from move-day onwards, so make sure you are comfortable with the terms before you sign.
3) Know the termination dates of your existing lease - Ensure that there is no crossover in rental payments. The last thing you want is to be paying two sets of bills – one for an office you are no longer occupying and using.
4) Decide on a date for move-day – Once a date is set, planning the steps to relocation become clearer.
5) Hire a removals company - Inquire, assess and strike up a good working relationship with the people handling your business assets. Do your research beforehand to ensure that you hire a company that is professional, experienced and fits your requirements.
6) Get set for move-day - With the right removals company, project manager, IT maintenance and employee support on hand you are set to move. Understandably, this may sound a little daunting at first but the key to a successful move is planning, keeping in mind the strategies listed below.
Create a budget
A strict focus on budgeting is half the battle with an office move. Identify your basic costs and don’t forget to remain conscious of the little details by factoring unexpected costs into your budget to ensure that you are not caught out.
A recent article in The Guardian highlighted what were described as “hidden” costs when it comes to the changing of leases, rates and utilities. It is best practice to consider that each of these can be fluctuating in price dependant on the area. To expect differences or unexpected hikes in pricing is to prepare for the one certainty in terms of your business move, cost - if you have done your research correctly and allow your budget some room to overspend on essentials, this will not be a worry.
Make a list of your priorities
Your new office should be an area that is capable of providing at the very minimum the same utilities and space experienced in your current office. You are ideally moving for the better, so make sure that better means adequate to the standard the business currently enjoys before you decide to take an office with less room for employees but with lower costs, or that is a closer commute etc. Make sure, if possible, you move office to where there is more space to settle into daily work routines, a good public transport service or affordable nearby parking. Are you moving to an area where your business is unique to the neighbourhood? Assess the possible positive or negative points to this. Is the area your business is moving to at risk of crime, or natural issues such as flooding? All this needs to be assessed before you decide where to relocate. It is a good idea to note down on some paper the key reasons why you are moving and what you require from your new office space. You should know which points you are prepared to compromise on and which ones you aren’t before you start your search.
Hire a property consultant and find a landlord you can trust
Reviewing a leasing process with plenty of caution cannot be stressed enough. Find a landlord that knows your business needs and is flexible on leasing periods, cost etc. Your property consultant should be presenting you with alternatives to every potential issue that may arise in viewings to ensure you piece of mind.
Assign a project manager who has experienced an office move
No employee can anticipate what lies in store for a business on the move if they haven’t seen a moveday themselves. You’ll need a project manager who knows the assets of your business inside out, and who will surprise even you when it comes to the little details; like the storing of old files or old wires, or even where the tape measure is usually kept. A project manager who is familiar with the workings of a removals company. Trust your project manager like you would yourself-this candidate should be someone you have tested in the past, and delivered when it mattered.
Invest in IT planning and maintenance
In the current business climate, it is essential to keep all files on the cloud, your maintenance backed-up and always be connected to your customer base. Moving office should not mean losing business momentum, it definitely shouldn’t mean your business will be out of reach for the two days you’ve given yourself to move stock. The best way to ensure this is by not changing your service provider before moving, when you are at your most vulnerable resource-wise and most likely to incur unexpected business losses or costs. A tiny error or oversight can result in great losses.
Find the right removals company
The essential part of getting your office move right is also the most obvious; how to pick a removals firm you trust. Ensuring a removal firm applies to national standards is key, start by asking potential firms if they are a member of the British Association of Removers Oversees Group. Ask for a portfolio, and inquire into how the firm’s previous clients found their service. Your project manager should also familiarise themselves with the firm’s credentials. Give yourself plenty of time to make this decision as it’s costly, will affect your assets and is irreversible.
Communicate your move to employees
Having your employees on side on move-day is essential so it is important to keep them regularly updated with your moving strategy. Also, ensure that they are aware of what is expected from them around this time and ways in which they can help. Ensuring the team is well informed and organised will make the transition smoother.
By Rebecca D'Souza, freelance writer for Fountain Partnership