For companies looking to establish a new base or a change of location, searching for new office space can be a daunting task. A combination of inexperience and uninformed decisions can turn a tricky undertaking into a stressful endeavour. Needlessly so, says Nick Riesel, managing director of Free Office Finder. Over the last fifteen years, Nick has found that the most common issues faced by relocating companies, have also proven to be the easiest to prevent.
Where I lay my hat
Location, location, location; a cliché, but also golden advice. Company owners should consider their office space as an essential asset of their business. From the gravitas the address may provide, to its vicinity to transport links. The first impressions of a new building or its access to shops and lunch spots may help sway a CEO into taking a space. However, what should also be a priority is how the relocation will fare for the lifeblood of the company – the staff.
One cautionary tale comes from a company who moved their business from outer London into the city, and consequently lost a large number of their talented workforce. The staff became inconvenienced by the long journeys and no longer comfortable with occasionally working late. Another example was a business who took an office in an area that staff felt unsafe walking through after dark. This led to the company having to relocate a second time, with all the expense, time and upheaval of the first move.
A choice of location should of course take commercial factors into account, but not at the cost of loyal employees.
Knowledge of the commercial real estate market is a must for any business industry with a physical office. While conducting a search for new office space, an uninformed tenant may receive what they consider is a fair offer – completely unaware that it is totally unsuitable for their needs. One such example is the story of a five-person start-up who were blown away by the reasonable cost-per-desk price of a high-end office. What they hadn’t realised, was the price was not based taking on five workspaces, but an entire floor.
It is also vital that company owners are up to date on rental prices, clauses and legislation. On the surface, it can appear an overwhelming task, but again, it doesn’t have to be.
A very common mistake that businesses make is to attempt to conduct their office search in-house. In almost every case, the reasoning is to keep costs down. In theory it sounds like a solid idea but more often than not, it can prove to be a false economy. The company time wasted on inefficient research alone, can result in significant and highly avoidable expenses.
A little guidance goes a long way. Whether this is gained by speaking to a property expert or contacting an agency – obtaining help is the most productive decision a company can make. It may sound counter-intuitive to pay for a service when attempting to save money, but in the long run, the savings speak for themselves. To get the best, most satisfactory deal possible, the advice is to not go it alone.
Call me, maybe..?
Telecoms, particularly an internet connection, are an essential service for any business. Without email, instant messaging or video conferencing, losing access for more than a day could temporarily cripple a company. In one case, a Macbook and tablet-based company moved in to their new, fully networked premises to find out there was only wired broadband available – no WiFi. This meant the business losing an entire work morning to purchasing and setting up routers.
The advice here is that advanced planning is absolutely key to an office move. Create and keep a close eye on all the utility services that need to be installed or moved to the new premises. The goal is for to all equipment to be up and running from the first hour, ensuring no loss of productivity. The main challenge is the time it can take to pre-arrange and install new connections.
In the case of taking a property with no pre-installed communications utilities, it is important that an arrangement between the landlord and tenant is made for all services to be available from the move-in date. Failure to do so can result in a severe time delay between the start of the tenancy and having a fully-functional workspace. In these cases, it is advisable that a company either negotiates a rent free period or simply not take the space.
To a small business, keeping a tight rein on the budget during an office move is a necessity. Another aspect that requires pre-planning is allowing a company room to scale up. It is generally good practice for relocating companies to allow extra space for future expansion in their new office space. What is common is the sudden hesitation when they realise the extra cost implications.
The middle ground is to toggle between flexible, serviced space and conventionally leased space. Running a comparison between the different styles is a proactive way to get a general idea of the best fit for your company. Plan your current and future space requirements in a controlled way and that budget will control itself.
Moving office does not have to be hard work. With so many individual factors to consider, from checking existing leases to cataloguing inventory, it can become easy to miss the most obvious and pressing aspects of a business. By keeping organised, seeking advice and adjusting your priorities accordingly, any office relocation issue can be mitigated.
Nick Riesel is managing director of Free Office Finder.