All businesses with a physical presence have to move offices eventually. Business shrink and no longer fill the place they have or grow far too big for the space they currently occupy.
Moving also affects all kinds of businesses; start-ups often begin life in bedrooms or garages and eventually require a larger working environment. Start-ups eventually grow into SMEs and with that can come further recruitment to meet the needs of a growing business. As profit increases and projects build up, move to larger premises may be necessary. Large enterprises are also not free of moving offices, with expansions into new territories to establish market dominance common.
According to recent research, moving is the most stressful life event that someone can go through. With 62% of the vote, moving is deemed more stressful than divorce or the breakup of a romantic relationship (43%) or starting a new job (also 43%).
On the flip side, tech recruiters Pearson Frank conducted research into influential factors at work for employee happiness as part of their global salary survey. They found that office location, the work environment and the company culture made up three of the top four influencing factors for retaining employees.
So we can all agree that getting the right office and atmosphere is important and that moving is a potentially high-stress situation, right? But does it have to be?
Louise Rushmer is the Head of Property and Facilities at Frank Recruitment Group (FRG), which has grown rapidly over the last few years. Significant investment has led to a slew of new brands being created and several office launches and relocations with employee headcount growing from 417 in 2014 to over 1,400 in 2017. At the beginning of June they relocated support staff to two existing properties and opened a new office space for their recruitment consultants. What did they learn from their experience?
“The most interesting – and tricky – part of this process is the cultural change programme that many companies undergo when they move,” says Rushmer. “Investment in a programme can be emotive.”
Rushmer argues that a key element before you even start searching for properties is to understand how your organisation currently works and then figure out how you would like to work in the future. Desk utilisation surveys and heat maps are both tools that can help you see where people spend their time, how they work, and where cutbacks can be made.
The most important thing before looking for new space is understanding how you work today and how you would like to work in the future. This is generally done by desk utilisation surveys and heat maps.
The results are often surprising as you may find that only 50% of desks are in use at any one time and this may be an opportunity for cost reduction.
Simon Tatters MBE is Facilities Manager at FRG and was part of the team that initiated the moves.
“Good planning is pivotal to reducing the individual and collective impact of an office move on staff,” he says. “Communication with staff and teams is the foundation. What does each team require in the new location in terms of space, functionality and support? Does your available resources support a single large move or does a phased move plan suit the situation? Manage expectation: what limitations exist in the new location? What happens when the plan has a hitch? Is there a back-up or contingency available? Lastly, be flexible!”
Here are Tatters’ 10 Top tips for a successful office move:
After the office move has been successfully completed, debrief with your team and record what went smoothly, what caused problems, and what could be done differently in the future. That way you can learn from your experience and be in a better position if you need to instigate an office move in the future.