Once your company grows beyond a certain point and office layouts have been reconfigured into every possible arrangement, the only option left is to move to bigger premises.
There are many challenges involved in the process, from finding a space that meets the company’s needs to managing staff throughout the move. But with thorough planning and a clear focus on where the company is headed, it’s possible to future-proof your new office space to create a permanent base.
To find out more about orchestrating a seamless move, we enlisted the help of the experts:
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Here’s what we discovered:
Space—The obvious benefit of moving to a new office is the additional space the new premises offers. Not only will staff feel less cramped—and subsequently more valued—but it opens up the opportunity to hire new recruits and take on more new business.
Perception—A move can also signify a positive change for a company as it demonstrates to staff, clients and potential new customers that the business is doing well.
Morale—Managed properly, an office move can give existing staff a welcome morale boost. A fresh start can increase productivity and shake up any inertia that may have crept in. Martine Roberts, director at HR Dept, explains:
“If everyone has ‘bought’ into the office move and it’s regarded positively, it should be a welcome boost to staff morale. A business should be open and honest about why it’s considering an office move—if it’s due to business growth, this is a positive reason and the focus should be to promote the benefits.”
The commute can have a huge impact on employees, potentially making or breaking their decision to work at a particular company. In fact, in response to a survey asking: ‘What would concern you most if your current office were to relocate to a bigger site?’, more than two-thirds of office workers cited longer commuting times—and the associated costs—plus the availability of parking and transport as their biggest worries.
Often, businesses must relocate out of town to find affordable office spaces with sufficient square footage. Although moving from a prime city-centre location can cancel out the costs of renting a bigger space, it can cause unrest among employees, especially if commuting to the new location takes more time or effort. The survey confirmed this, with moving to an out-of-town location concerning more than 10% of the people surveyed.
Location can also play a part in how the outside world perceives the company, as clients and potential recruits may associate a centrally located company as being more ‘up and coming’ than one on the outskirts of town.
To fully understand just how much of an impact a move out of town will have on the workforce, Louisa Bainbridge, head of marketing at iGeolise—creators of the Travel Time Platform—recommends using a commute time calculator to analyse how the move will affect each employee’s journey to and from work.
“It’s possible to map out the perfect ‘commute locations’ for every employee and see which areas are easiest to access by the majority of employees or filter based on specific employee talent that must be retained. Companies can then either offer their employees compensation for this change, or plan to fill the role with someone who’s more likely to travel to this location.”
If the only sensible option is to move to a less central location, companies can implement measures to make the commute easier for employees, as Martine explains:
“If moving to an out-of-town location, a good initiative would be to provide shuttle buses to help with the commute from local towns/train stations etc. This also helps to address a lack of available parking.”
Louise stresses that moving away from the busy city centre can actually speed up commuting times:
“In many cases, offices moving to out-of-town locations has a positive effect on staff retention. For example, relocating from the city centre to an out-of-town business park can cut employees’ travel times and reduce the stress and expense of the morning commute.”
As with any change, clear communication between management and staff is key. Whispers of a potential move or reorganisation will travel fast and cause unnecessary unrest, so it’s vital to keep staff updated, even in the initial stages.
Making staff feel like they are a part of the process as opposed to an afterthought will definitely help, as Martine explains:
“If there’s ambiguity surrounding a potential move, individuals can feel threatened as it’s perceived as ‘change’. An absence of communication will be perceived negatively even if the reality is different. Managing expectations and controlling the ‘rumour machine’ are essential in such a situation.”
Before your company even starts looking at potential spaces, Warren Bricknell suggests having a clear idea of your needs, ethos and future plans:
“Start your search by determining exactly what your company is and where it’s going. Ask yourself ‘Who are we? Why are we in business? Where do we want to be five years from now? Who do we want to join our team?’ Answer these questions, then find premises that are the best fit for your business.”
Warren acknowledges how companies can be influenced by the less conventional office designs synonymous with high-profile companies such as Google, Facebook, Dyson and Deliveroo, but urges organisations to be realistic and think about themselves and their own business.
Louisa advises company owners to consider the surroundings of a potential new office:
“Think about travel times to local amenities (shops, restaurants, gyms, schools), access to the labour supply and the skillsets available in these local communities.”
Martine also highlights further points for consideration:
Is it affordable and does it convey the right image for your business including the location? Does it have practical considerations such as robust security measures, easy access, enough car parking spaces? Are there on-site facilities such as a café, restaurant etc. or any outside space that people could access during warmer weather? Are there plenty of windows and natural light? When communicating the reason for the office move, these are all positive factors to include.”
Once you’ve decided on your new premises, it’s important to think ahead and create an office layout you can adapt as your company grows, avoiding the need to have to move again. Warren suggests the following:
“Be as agile as you can be, and use modular furniture solutions you can relocate easily. Use power and connectivity solutions that aren’t part of the building or under the floor, although this does depend partly on whether you own or lease the premises, and where the office is located.”
Flexible power solutions are becoming commonplace in modern offices to meet the increasing demands for instant connectivity. On-desk power modules, connectable socket rows, wireless charging hubs and sockets integrated into soft furnishings make it quick and easy to rearrange furniture as necessary.
If you have a long lease on the premises or own the property, it may also be worth installing underfloor busbars to distribute power evenly throughout the entire space. This gives you an unlimited number of options for future layouts.
Many companies now incorporate communal areas and break-out spaces into the office layout to provide a more flexible approach to working. Encouraging a hot-desking environment will also work to future-proof the office, and ultimately make sure that the growth of the company is no longer dictated by the available space.
See part one of our feature on ‘How to expand your office space to accommodate your growing workforce’.