New products and services, team members and customers ensure that your business is continually evolving. In the face of seemingly constant change, one of the few constants may be your office space — but one day, you might realize that your workspace deserves an update, too.
Whether it’s to accommodate a growing team, new workflow needs or additional equipment, planning for an office move is no small undertaking. To help it go smoothly, adopt three key strategies: planning ahead, planning thoroughly and communicating consistently. Here’s what to do.
When to Consider Moving Offices
The most common reasons that businesses move are:
New work requirements
An expiring lease
When your company is growing and you’re adding new team members, you may wonder how soon you’ll outgrow your current space. Appropriate square footage per employee can vary a lot, from about 125 square feet per person to 200 square feet or more.
That said, the space you require should reflect how your employees will actually use it. If most of your new hires are out selling products or services through meetings at your prospects’ offices, you may not need much extra room. Companies that offer flexible and remote working options may also need less space than a business that asks everyone to be in the office full time. Chances are you’ll start to sense when your business needs more space — just don’t wait until your employees are waiting in line for the broom closet to get some privacy!
If your business is transitioning to focus on new products or services that will require a different workspace, anticipate those new needs early in the development process. Likewise, when your lease is coming up for renewal, think ahead to how your company may change throughout the next lease term. You may also just want to find a cheaper space. Although many office leases last 3-5 years, you may want to negotiate a shorter term and start researching new space if your company is on the cusp of new growth.
Make Moving Offices Seamless
Once you decide your company needs to move, it’s time to think about just how you’ll make it happen. Take advantage of these three strategies to avoid the stress of a painful move.
1. Plan Ahead
Naturally you want to plan ahead, but how far ahead? Ideally, you’ll start your preparations a year in advance. If that’s unrealistic, aim for at least six months before the move.
This will give you enough time to choose a general location and review options for the actual space. Throughout this process, ask for input from various parts of your team, including from operations, IT, customer-facing employees and HR professionals. Creating a list of priorities from multiple perspectives will help you narrow down office options and find one that fits more peoples’ needs.
As you explore locations and spaces, ask plenty of questions. Go beyond the floor plan and get details on considerations like air quality and other potential unseen hazards. You may want to consider opportunities to make your office more environmentally friendly.
Start talking to potential movers early in the process. The company you choose can make a huge difference between a smooth move and a nightmare. Quality movers do more than just load and unload boxes — they also help you anticipate logistical needs and provide guidance on organizing and sequencing your move.
2. Plan Thoroughly
Develop a detailed project plan. Otherwise, you can take advantage of an existing project plan, whether from a resource online, your office space broker or your moving company. Then customize it for your company’s needs.
To execute your plan, pick someone to manage the overall project plan. You’ll also want a core team to handle specific segments of the plan. Be sure to consider:
IT needs. Settling into a new space may require you to change vendors or upgrade equipment. Make IT security a priority before, during and after the move.
Special equipment and furniture. If you have large, fragile or unusual items that require special handling, tell the moving company about them up front. They’ll plan to move items in a specific way or order based on this information.
Layout and decor. When you move to a larger space, it may be tempting to add new amenities — maybe a game room, napping pods or a beverage center. Make sure it all fits in the new office before you make new investments.
Sequencing and labeling. Knowing what’s in which box will have a significant impact on how quickly your business is back up and running after the move. If you have multiple people packing boxes, provide clear guidance for consistent labeling.
3. Communicate With Consistency
Adding a move to everyone’s already busy schedules can wreak havoc on your staff’s productivity, especially if your team members need to search for details about the change of office.
Provide regular updates to the whole team, and put the information about the move in a place everyone can easily access. That could be a shared drive, a cloud-based online location or an old-fashioned bulletin board.
Check that your communications clearly state what you expect from your employees during the move. No one should have any doubts about who will need to do what — and when.
Also plan for external communications to your customers and vendors. If you have business partners that ship supplies to you, ask about their lead time to be sure your delivery information is updated in their systems. Aim to track your shipments from vendors for six months before the move so you don’t forget about items you only receive periodically.
Settling Into Your New Space
After unpacking, spend a few days getting a feel for your new environment. It’s better to decide you want a different layout earlier, before everyone gets settled. And when it’s all over, celebrate a successful move with your workforce! An open house that includes employees’ families, key customers and suppliers shows your company’s progress and pride in your new home.
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