The Joys of Moving Office?

Are you moving office?

Moving office can be joyful and rewarding, but without careful planning and effective management your office relocation can be extremely stressful, lead to short term business discontinuity, and in the worst case long term adverse consequences for the operation of your business.

Answers to your frequent questions

If you are contemplating moving to new offices, or consolidating a number of offices to a single location, you are likely to have many questions about planning and managing your move.

With a wealth of experience of managing corporate relocation we at Europtima are frequently asked for advice. We hope that if you are ever faced with organising, managing, or supporting a move you will find the brief answers to these ‘frequently asked questions’ a useful first step to guide you through the process.

What should I do first?

Start by defining your requirements at a strategic level and establishing a robust internal organisation for briefing and delivering the relocation or consolidation.

Your strategic brief should generally consider factors such as:

  • space requirement;
  • functionality of the space and its adaptability to accommodate your current and future workplace requirements;
  • location and accessibility for staff and visitors;
  • image in the context of your brand;
  • information technology and security;
  • organisation structure, resources, responsibilities and authorities; and,
  • quality, timescale and budget.

You may wish to consider some option appraisals e.g. to rent or to buy. For many businesses some external professional help may be beneficial even at this early stage.

Who should organise the move?

Consider establishing a Steering Group to represent the business stakeholders with a ‘Project Sponsor’ delegated to implement the agreed strategy.

The role of your Steering Group is to:

  • establish the strategic brief and business case; and,
  • make the key decisions as your relocation project moves forward.

The Project Sponsor reports to the Steering Group and manages:

  • the interfaces with external suppliers and advisers providing them with strategic direction and timely decisions; and,
  • internal resources contributing to or managing parts of the move project.

The number of tasks to be done is legion – everything from securing your new space, fitting out, furnishing, equipping, through to providing a welcome pack for your staff at move in.

You should develop a comprehensive task listing with allocated budgets and management responsibilities for each task. Many organisations will find it convenient to undertake some tasks in house while out sourcing others.

What support will I need and where can I find it?

Often you may require support from a number of professional advisers including:

  • real estate broker;
  • legal adviser;
  • designers;
  • contractors and other suppliers of furniture, fixtures and equipment; and,
  • project managers.

You might also wish to consider taxation advice to achieve a financially efficient mix of capital spend and ongoing expense.

Naturally, personal recommendations from your contacts are a valuable source of information on suitable partners and suppliers. You can also consider internet searches and references to specialist publications.

While it is often tempting to go for the cheapest price, you should take a professional approach to purchasing goods, works and services: carefully define your requirements and assess the capability, capacity, experience and compatibility of your potential suppliers and partners.

How much space do I need?

Many ‘real estate experts’ will suggest that you need about 10m2 per person as a rule of thumb when beginning your property search. However this is much too simplistic with some organizations needing as little as 6 or 7m2 per person while others may need 15m2 or more.

A proper professional analysis of your ways of working and workplace requirements may have financial benefits which far outweigh the cost of the exercise. The objectives of such analyses include:

  • achieving more efficient use of space;
  • lowering accommodation costs;
  • encouraging better ways of working;
  • delivering stimulating working environments; and,
  • reinforcing your organisation’s culture and image.

As your space requirement will be influenced by the configuration of the buildings on your shortlist, you’d be wise to undertake a ‘test fit’ for each building under serious consideration for your new location.

How much time will it take?

If you are a very large organisation or have a very particular space requirement, a move may be several years in planning and implementation as you may need to commit to a building which has not yet been built.

A small to medium sized organisation intending to lease space in an existing building would be well advised to begin planning at least a year before the actual relocation. From the stage of committing to a property, the move will generally take between around 3½ to 6 months to allow sufficient time to finalise designs, make all purchases, allow for delivery periods and customise the space to your requirements.

If you don’t allow sufficient time for planning and completing your move, you may well be forced into decisions and strategies which will ultimately prove costly and uncompetitive.

How much will it cost?

The cost of moving can vary enormously, but as a rough guide for office movers the costs for fitting out and equipping the space and moving in can reach around €750 to more than €1,000/m2 for international corporates.

The budget headings which you will need to consider include:

  • professional fees and expenses;
  • construction costs;
  • information technology;
  • security;
  • furniture, fixtures and equipment;
  • removal costs;
  • asset write offs; and,
  • the cost of reinstatement of vacated premises.

How can I save time and money?

You can achieve the largest savings by the application of value management techniques at the strategic planning and conceptual stages of the relocation.

We always recommend taking a longer view and looking for efficiency and effectiveness in your processes and in your property assets. You will have many opportunities along the way for short term quick fix cost savings e.g. fit out design and construction by your Landlord, but they will not necessarily provide value or savings over the medium to longer term.

Well that all sounds fairly simple. What can go wrong?

That is certainly true – the process is deceptively simple, but mistakes can be costly for your business in both short and longer term.

Some of the risks occurring more frequently, which can be overcome by good planning and management, include:

  • significant business disruption on moving;
  • inadequate/incorrect strategy and logistics;
  • base building deficiencies;
  • expiring lease ‘crunch’ when faced with delivery delays in new space;
  • business dynamics including change in your business; and,
  • staff discontent and losses.

About the author

Sandy McMillan
Sandy McMillan

Europtima’s Sandy McMillan has managed relocation and consolidation projects for a few tens of people to 1,400 civil servants being consolidated from 7 locations to one new office building purchased off plan.

Clients for Sandy’s relocation projects, which have been carried out throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, include: high tech companies; accountants; manufacturers; and, government.

Sandy, who now has more than 40 years’ experience in real estate and construction, joined Europtima as a director in 2002.

More information

If you’d like more information or assistance with a move you’re planning, please contact us.

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