Which is more important: the ideal office layout or the perfect location? Of course, you want both — but, as with so many things, relocating your small business may force you to compromise.
So, how do you make sure your new business location checks all the most important boxes on your list? Here’s where to focus your attention as you scope out a new home for your business.
What Are Your Priorities?
Should business location be your top priority? Size? Amenities? There isn’t one correct answer. A dentist’s office will need a good-sized parking lot for staff and clients. A law office may need fewer parking spaces, but clients will expect the space to look like a law office — which may mean it makes sense to focus on amenities.
Consider which factors are integral your company’s success. Where are your clients located? Do you do business in person or on the phone? Do you rely on foot traffic? Do your employees spend all day in the office, or are they mainly out on site?
A construction office may want to prioritize a central location so that office staff can reach all of the company’s work sites relatively quickly. An accounting office that specializes in suburban tax returns may settle nicely into a suburban strip mall. A business where people usually work from home or remotely probably requires a smaller office than a company that’s often filled with employees, clients and products would.
Who Helps You Decide?
Although the decision-making power ultimately lies with the owner or board of directors, it’s not smart to make this decision alone.
Meet with your staff to hear their thoughts, since they’ll feel the effects of a new location. Your team’s unique perspective may raise considerations that are often overlooked, such as commuting times for current staff members, space requirements specific to certain roles, or types of neighboring businesses that could drive — or hurt — business.
On the other side of that coin, though, too many voices crowding the conversation could confuse whoever is in charge of the final decision. If you’ve heard views from various levels within the business and you’re still struggling to analyze the information you’ve gathered, consider hiring a professional who specializes in business relocation. Their experience can help you determine which questions to ask to get the insights you need.
How Should You Announce Your Decision?
Regardless of the input, once you’ve made a relocation decision, you’ll need to inform your staff of the change. If this move will mean a radically different commute for employees, some of them may opt to quit (and if the distance is far enough, those who do could be eligible for unemployment payments). Understand that a necessary move for your business can be life-changing for the people who work within it.
So, frame the announcement carefully. If possible, hold an all-hands meeting so that everyone hears the news at the same time. Thank your staff for their input, explain how you arrived at your decision and be clear that, although the change will be much better for some people, it may create difficulties for others. For employees who can’t change their commute, offer to help them find new jobs and serve as a reference. If telecommuting is a possibility for your business, now is an excellent time to implement a good flexible work policy.
Depending on the distance and difficulty of the move, you may wish to notify your staff a year or more in advance. A move two miles down the road that will be accomplished in a day can have a much shorter lead time.
How Can You Support Your Staff in the Move?
Unless you have the luxury of shutting down business functions for a week or two while you pack up the old office, move everything and prepare the new space, employees will be working in chaos. Be kind. Acknowledge that productivity will drop and prepare for it. And don’t forget about your loyal customers — this affects them as well.
Moving to a new business location can be an excellent thing for your business. Consider your choices every step of the way and be open with employees about your process, and you’ll find that you have plenty of opportunities for your business to plant its flag in an exciting new location.
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