How to Plan Your Company’s Move
Relocating an entire office is a daunting task, and business owners rarely have the time to allocate to the process. Thankfully, there are professionals available to guide businesses through the transition, effectively reducing stress and increasing the efficiency of the move. The secret is planning and knowing what to expect, which will greatly increase the chances of a smooth transition.
When considering a relocation, a long lead-up time is imperative. Moving an entire business is a large, involved process with many moving parts that can really disrupt productivity if not planned property. A general timeline to consider is: a company that requires a 10,000-square-foot space should begin their planning 12 to 18 months prior to moving; a 4,000- to 7,000-square-foot space should start nine to 12 months in advance; and a space less than 4,000 square feet should plan at least six months before the move. The longer the lead up time, the less likely there will be major complications, effectively saving the company more money.
Once a business has a timeline established, it’s time to set and manage expectations. Too often this step is overlooked, and yet it is essential in creating a smooth, efficient relocation. While this responsibility largely falls on the broker, the client will need to accept what is possible within their current situation and budget. For example, if a client wants a custom buildout, budgets will need to increase or compromises will have to be made. Unfortunately, there are brokerage firms that will over-promise a client simply to obtain their business, thereby setting unrealistic expectations. This is a dangerous precedent to set, as the client will be left with an unpleasant experience due to a drawn out process, less-than-ideal prices and a higher cost. The best business practice to benefit every party is to establish realistic expectations, then work to exceed them.
Prior to setting foot in a single office space, it’s a good idea to develop a basic layout and checklist of requirements for the new location. Identifying and prioritizing employee activities and needs will help provide the broker with a clear idea of the end goal. Decide how many offices and conference rooms are needed, and how much space should be allocated to each employee. A helpful tip for this process is to think about the day-to-day lives of each employee, as this will provide clues as to what amenities the office layout will need.
Remember that planning the layout of a space isn’t only about the current workforce and day-to-day needs. It’s about creating a template for the business to grow. Consider how large the next office must be, and then identify how much space should be allocated to each department of the workforce (sales, marketing, creative, programmers, accountants, etc.). How many private offices, conference rooms, collaborative spaces and kitchens will the office need, and how much square footage should be allocated to each employee? The process that addresses space requirements is called “benchmarking.” For example, a tech company will have different requirements than a law firm when it comes to design, layout and square footage allocation. A creative agency with 10 employees may want 175 to 190 square feet per person, whereas an accounting firm might want 230 to 250 square feet per person. Effective benchmarking through a discussion with the broker will improve their ability to find the right space that can be perfectly utilized per a business’ needs.
Once the preliminary search has narrowed down a few options of spaces that would be right for a business, this is the perfect time to seek the input of a space planner or architect to discuss the buildout and design plans. Being able to compare space plans among a selection of top contenders will help discern if the exact square footage and shape of each office will be a strong fit. It may depend on the building, but this preliminary planning can typically be done alongside the lease term negotiations. As always, be sure to take advantage of a long lead-up time as well as the resources of a commercial real estate broker in order to acquire that dream office in a smooth manner and at a fair rate.