Many businesses are rethinking their office space needs, especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the uptick in remote work. Initially, many predicted a mass office space exodus: A 2020 Fortune/Deloitte CEO survey found that 76% of CEOs thought their organizations would need less office space in the future.
However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 5.5% of private-sector businesses are reducing their office square footage. Further, increased telework is a factor in companies that plan to relocate.
If your company is embarking on an office relocation to accommodate hybrid working arrangements and collaborative spaces, or just to find an office space that fits your needs better, the experience doesn’t have to be stressful. This guide will show you how, with the proper mindset and planning, your office relocation can be the catalyst for a company-wide makeover.
Reasons for relocating your offices
Office relocations happen for many reasons. You may be expanding to a new city, moving to an ideal location or finding a better space to accommodate a combination of remote and in-office workers.
Here are a few popular reasons for relocating your offices.
1. Relocating can enhance your brand.
Offices can say a lot about a company. For example, office decor can immediately communicate whether your organization is young, quirky, or more traditional. Since outsiders can learn much about your brand from your offices, moving is a way to immediately change how others perceive your brand.
A company’s brand style, tone and purpose often change as it develops. Moving offices lets you quickly update your aesthetic to align with the message you want your company to convey.
The building, interior design, location and style you choose are significant factors in creating your brand’s tone and portraying the right message.
Office design and relocation companies can offer insightful ideas to help your offices appeal to your target audience.
2. Relocating can inspire innovative work methods.
New methodologies, such as hybrid work, lean working, the agile workplace and swarm intelligence, may seem difficult to implement in a stuffy, traditional office. However, once you move, the possibilities multiply. You’ll be able to put new theories and techniques into action before the interior design is set in stone.
Creating open working spaces, collaboration areas, small acoustic rooms, hot-desking areas and employee lunch areas will become easier. You’ll have a blank space to work with, and you’ll be able to implement your unique style.
Employees can also experience a total refresh when working in a new building. Starting work in new surroundings is an excellent opportunity to implement new and innovative ways of working.
3. Relocating is a chance to grow your company.
More space, a nicer office or a better location can make the hiring process easier, improving your workforce. You may be closer to large talent pools or have the space to take on additional team members.
A company that has recently moved to better, brighter offices is also likely to look more impressive in the eyes of clients and prospective employees who instantly feel a cultural fit. Moving is a signal of success, determination and dynamism; you aren’t just standing still, letting the company fall into a routine.
4. Relocating can help you improve safety for employees.
COVID-19 made people hyper-aware of tight working spaces, making it easier to pass along germs. In a typical year, according to Circadian data, companies lose on average $3,600 for hourly workers and $2,650 for salaried employees due to unscheduled absenteeism. These figures will probably increase because COVID is unlikely to disappear completely.
Some businesses may prefer to move to a more spread-out office format with barriers between workstations. Other businesses may want to move to a building with an improved ventilation system. Some businesses may require fully loaded video conferencing rooms to communicate with employees working from home, while others may utilize outdoor spaces.
5. Relocating can help you save on rent.
While most companies aren’t ditching the office altogether, there has been some downsizing. With more office space available to lease and increased competition for tenants, you may be able to save on rent. Additionally, some larger companies are scrapping a massive central headquarters in favor of smaller satellite offices for functional groups.
If your company is nearing the end of its current lease, you may be able to take advantage of lower rents for comparable spaces somewhere else, depending on the commercial real estate market in your area.
How to plan for a move
Staying organized and getting the right help are keys to a successful relocation. Follow these relocation tips for the best results:
- Plan ahead for your relocation. The earlier you start planning your office relocation, the better. You won’t feel rushed into hasty decisions by giving yourself plenty of time to orchestrate the move or oversee an external company. If you decide to conduct the move yourself, ensure you set a budget and time frame and know precisely what you want in a new location.
- Consider outside help for your move. It can be easier to opt for external help. Companies specializing in office relocation can help you find your next property, transition the workforce, deal with office interior design and handle unexpected details. Using an external company ensures that you are taken care of from start to finish: The decisions will be yours, but the hard work getting there will be someone else’s responsibility.
- Find reputable assistance. If you opt for an office relocation specialist, thoroughly research your options. Find out which companies work with businesses similar to yours or in the same industry. Ask for testimonials, referrals and case studies. The more experienced a company is, the smoother your move will be.
How to move offices successfully
Successful office relocation involves three crucial elements: people, finances and traditional moving tasks.
How to handle the people involved in your move
Office relocations can be sensitive to discuss with your staff, especially if considerable changes are coming. Change – even positive change – is stressful because it brings disruption, uncertainty and unfamiliarity.
Employees may be concerned about their new commute, parking, the new workspace and where to eat lunch. Employees may be concerned about their families thriving in a new community if relocation is involved.
Some businesses find it easier to hire outside companies to help counsel their workforce before, during and after the transition. These companies have the experience and expertise to support your team properly, giving you peace of mind.
Whether or not you’re using a third-party relocation service, here’s what to do to be considerate of the people involved in your office relocation:
- Notify your landlord. Understand the terms of your current lease and what’s involved with giving notice.
- Tell your staff well ahead of time. Ensure your team has plenty of notice about the move.
- Give your team a say. Solicit input and informal feedback about the move. The more included employees feel, the more they’ll be on your side. Ask for their suggestions about location, design and layout.
- Be proactive about employee concerns. Try to anticipate employee questions and concerns about the new environment, and proactively provide information and suggestions. For example, give them maps showing nearby parking, commuter routes, mass transit stations and restaurants. If it’s a new community, include information on schools and their ratings, community centers, and neighborhoods.
- Offer resources. Give employees resources to help support them emotionally and logistically throughout the moving process.
- Create a moving plan. Your plan should include which employees are responsible for specific tasks, such as setting up the new business phone system and ordering the cubicle elements.
- Instruct employees about packing. If employees are packing up their desks, let them know and show them how you’d like boxes and equipment to be labeled.
- Create a list of access elements. Make a list of who has key fobs, parking passes and access cards for your former location, and collect them from your employees. Get keys, parking passes and access cards for the new location, and distribute them as needed. Inform employees about any biometric access control systems and visitor management systems you’ll be implementing in the new location.
- Notify others of the move. Notify strategic partners, affiliates, suppliers and customers of the move. Create a change-of-address notification, and update company address listings on the company website, social media accounts, bank accounts, and paper and digital stationery. You’ll also need to change your business address on Google and Yelp.
- Be patient. Cut employees some slack immediately following the move if they’re late or need time to adjust.
To thank employees and relieve some of the moving stress, have a small party once you’ve settled in your new office.
How to handle the finances involved in your move
Relocating can be expensive. It’s crucial to handle your finances properly to avoid overspending and other financial errors. Follow these best practices:
- Understand your current lease. Review your current lease to ensure you’re not incurring unnecessary charges for early move-out or damage.
- Determine if you need moving coverage. The industry standard for moving insurance is 60 cents per pound, so if a 50-pound desk gets damaged, you would only get $30. You may want additional coverage if you have critical equipment vital to your operations. Typically, business owners insurance doesn’t cover the types of damage that can occur during an office move.
- Set a moving budget ahead of time. Creating a moving budget will help you avoid surprises and make decisions to save you money.
- Discontinue current services. Discontinue or transition services at the old office, such as janitorial services, landscaping, security and pest control.
- Reevaluate current suppliers. Review your current suppliers, and ask for quotes from alternative companies that may now be closer to you. One simple evaluation and review could result in significant yearly savings.
- Reevaluate technology and equipment. Consider your current technology and equipment, and decide if you should move it. Office relocation is an excellent excuse for transitioning to newer, more efficient systems.
- Transition your insurance policies. Look into transitioning your business insurance to your new location. If this isn’t possible, get a new policy.
- Terminate the old lease. Ensure your old lease was terminated in writing.
If you decide to transition to new equipment for your new workspace, consider a business equipment loan to keep your cash reserves and benefit from tax breaks.
How to handle traditional moving tasks in a relocation
- Research moving companies. Research moving companies and decide if you want them to pack everything for you or if you will do it yourself.
- Hire a designer. Hire an interior designer to plan any landscaping, decorating and internal workstation arrangements. Have the designer reach out to the new office manager for locations of Ethernet connections, phone connections and electrical outlets so they can draw up a floor plan.
- Buy new furniture. If you are buying new furniture, decorative items or equipment, choose and order it.
- Back up your data before the move. It’s critical to back up essential documents and data to easily restore them if anything is damaged during the move. Consider using a top cloud backup and storage solution to protect against data loss.
- Set up appointments for critical installations. Arrange for electric, phone and internet service to be installed.
- Schedule tech setup help. Determine if you need help setting up your computers and IT systems, and if so, arrange for a company to do this.
- Do a walk-through. Do a walk-through about a week before the move to ensure everything is in good repair and that the electricity and other utilities are turned on.
- Take inventory. Inventory and tag furniture, equipment, and office supplies, and take photos of everything before moving in case things are lost or damaged and you need to file a claim.
- Get moving supplies. Gather moving supplies such as boxes, packing tape, labels and bubble wrap.
- Pack. Pack up everything or have the moving company pack for you.
- Set up your new location. Consult the floor plan when placing items in the new location, setting up the dividers and labeling each space. Set up furniture and equipment, and be sure to test everything.
- Set up signage. Install new signage in your workspaces and on your building, if necessary.
Measure large items such as multifunction printers and copy machines to ensure they’ll fit through the doorways and in their designated spaces.
How to ensure a cost-effective move
Moving your office can be expensive, but there are ways to minimize the costs:
- Plan and prepare. Plan and prepare early to make the best decisions and take advantage of advanced discounts.
- Consider your future needs. Think carefully about your current office space needs and near-future needs. If you’re growing fast, consider getting more space than you currently need to avoid moving again in the short term.
- Research and compare moving companies. Check out reviews of moving companies, and ensure everything you need is included in each quote so that you compare apples to apples.
- Consider an off-season move. Move during the offseason (winter or fall) when prices are lower.
- Get rid of unnecessary items. Before moving, sell, donate, or discard broken, unneeded, or outdated furniture and equipment. Run promotions to cash in on excess inventory, and shred unnecessary documents to have fewer things to move. Consider paper-shredding services to help if you have a massive amount of documents.
- Get quotes and negotiate. Don’t just pay the first amount you’re quoted, whether from the moving company, interior designer or management company. Most things are negotiable.
- Pack with your team. Rather than having a moving company pack papers and supplies, have your employees pitch in and make a party of it for motivation.
- Don’t pay for new furniture. Get refurbished office furniture, or shop around for the best deals.
New office, new start
Moving your office location won’t be easy, but it doesn’t have to be a negative, time-consuming task. Moving gives you a chance to revamp your business, motivate your staff and save money. You’ll also get a chance to review your core values and evaluate how your workforce collaborates and communicates.
You may also find that changing your team’s environment creates a massive morale boost, empowering employees and encouraging proactive work and positive feelings for the company.
Workplace transitioning is a huge part of the relocation process, but it makes the entire journey that much smoother when done well.
Chad Brooks contributed to the writing and research in this article.