Before you start searching for new offices, consider these two questions; ‘Why are we moving?’ and ‘What do we want from a new office?’ It’s only after you’ve answered these questions that you’ll be ready to start looking for a new office.
If you’re facing an office move the 7 need to know points below will help you set the scope of your property search, put together a tight brief and set the project off on the right foot.
Why are we moving?
Of course, it sounds obvious, but before you do anything else, you and the business need to establish exactly why you’re moving offices. The details will be specific to your business but the main reasons will probably be one or more of the following:
- the lease is up
- more space to accommodate future growth
- smarter offices to attract and retain top staff
- relocate to a sector-specific area
Keep asking “Why are we doing this?”, until you have clear reasons, and get them written down – they’ll become the Mission Statement for your office move. Make sure everyone involved understands the reasons for the move, it will help everyone keep focused and on track. If your main reason for relocation isn’t clear, your project could run the risk of being hindered by a lack of purpose, with slow decision-making, changes of direction and even being shelved – it does happen.
What do we want from a new office?
In other words, what are your top level requirements from a new office? Your requirements will be specific to you, but it’s likely they’ll encompass common things like:
- showing that you do listen to your staff and are working towards their ideal workplace
- capacity for more staff over the next 3 to 5 years
- proximity to main transport links
- interesting shops & places to eat
- location in a specific area
It’s not the details of how many meeting rooms you need, how the layout will work, what furniture you want in the kitchen breakout area, or where the drinks fridge will go – that will come later.
It is intrinsic requirements, the things that need to be aligned with the mid to long term strategic goals of the company. You’ll need input from team leaders across the business to definitively establish all of them. We often call this top level list your Statement of Requirements.
What’s the difference between a Multi-Discipline Property Agent and an Occupier-Only Agent?
A property agent will help you look at the current London property market, plan your search and advise on locations. They’ll arrange your search for properties, advise you on your best options, and work alongside you to negotiate the terms of the lease with the landlord and lawyers.
Multi-Discipline Agents work for both Landlords and the Tenant, whereas Occupier-Only Agents provide a dedicated service to the Tenant or Occupier only. Ensure you know who you’re dealing with and that your property adviser acts in your best interests.
Who are our Stakeholders?
A stakeholder is someone connected to your business that has the right to an opinion on your office move. And their opinion matters.
They might include executive or non-exec directors or the board of directors, financial backers or investors, shareholders and trustees, influential clients or advisors, your parent company, unions or regulatory boards, and heads of department and staff.
Find out who they all are, gather their thoughts and opinions, and secure their complete approval and buy-in early on. And thoroughly document it for all concerned. This document becomes your baseline to rely on if anyone raises an objection or suggests a change at any time later in the project.
What’s the budget?
Be prepared for the obvious, the hidden and the extras. Your relocation project is a significant undertaking with costs throughout the process. Determine to set realistic budgets for everything before you move forward in the process. Your costs should cover:
- Dilapidations to your old offices. (If you did alteration works to your offices the landlord will usually require you to reinstate those alterations at the end of the lease).
- Property search and agents’ fees
- Upfront and annual cost of the lease
- Legal and advisory costs
- Business rates
- Service charges
- Marketing costs and stationery
- Temporary storage
Contingency – you need to set aside a comfortable percentage, perhaps somewhere in the region of 10% of the total budget. Most projects will encounter changes or modifications that will incur a cost.
Funding – get answers to these questions
- Is the cost of the relocation within the company’s financial capacity?
- Do you have a source of sufficient funding in place?
- How will the move impact on cash flow?
- Will the company need to submit a business plan to secure a loan or overdraft, and if so, have all the future repayments gone into budgets and cashflow forecasts?
Who is the best internal Project Lead?
Responsibility for day-to-day office move operations needs to be delegated to a Project Lead. It’s a critical role and that person needs to be chosen carefully. With specific skills and attributes, they need to:
- Be hands on in day-to-day running of the business and know how it operates
- Be a resilient problem solver, able to see it through when there are problems
- Possess strong delegation and communication skills
- Keep the Project Team encouraged, on track and aware of their responsibilities
- Have the confidence of the business and the Board
The internal Project Lead must be given a clear scope of the role and fully understand the extent of their authority to make a wide range of decisions. They will need definite, committed support from different departments within your business. HR, Finance & Marketing will all need to be involved at some level within the internal Project Team, and are likely to be assigned tasks based on their expertise; for example budgets to Finance. Don’t forget the importance of recognising each department’s particular requirements within their own working environment.
Following these steps will help you understand exactly why you’re moving, what you want from your new office, help you get buy-in from your stakeholders and give you a structure around setting your budget.
All of this will set you off on the right foot for a successful office relocation. To get some personal detailed guidance get in touch on 01444 231333.