The Christmas period is a strange time for businesses – the workload tends to calm down but the office remains open. It is no surprise then that many small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners see moving office at Christmas an ideal opportunity.
If you are thinking of using the relative quiet of the end of the year to undertake or plan your office move, then there is a long list of things to think about that would make even Santa’s elves squirm.
No matter how well organised you are and how much help you get from a move consultancy, switching offices will always cause a disruption to a business. However, there are ways to make sure this is kept to a minimum.
If you’re thinking of moving office over the coming Christmas period you’re likely to be in the middle of the process now, so here are some actions to consider making your move a smoother one.
Clean out and declutter your current office
Make an inventory of the items you are throwing away and those you are moving to the new office. Ensure staff have plenty of time to pack up their desks and their personal belongings.
Keep staff updated and engaged
Your workforce is the most important part of your business, so communicate with staff regularly. Ask employees for their opinion and make sure they are happy at each stage of the process. Once you have moved, it is a good idea to carry out an employee survey to make sure everyone is happy with the move, making changes where necessary.
Review your furniture and storage requirements
Does the furniture and equipment you have now fit with the look and feel of the new office, is it fit for purpose and do you need to purchase more desks and chairs for future growth? Accurately measure the space in the new office.
IT and record management
Cconsider arranging for an IT company/data and record management firm to back up your servers, protect data and transport documents securely to your new office. You need to make sure confidential client and business information is kept secure during the move.
Contact phone and internet providers and give them your move date and new address. Christmas can be a busy time for phone and broadband suppliers, so it is best to diarise the for the reconnection of your service as soon as you can.
Costs can escalate quickly, so take time to regularly review the move plan, costs and your budget. Check that everything is on track and budgeted for.
Tell clients you’re moving
Advise clients you are moving office and will be shut over the Christmas and New Year period. Provide them with emergency contact details and, of course, your new address.
Inform key organisations you are moving
It is important that you also inform service providers, government agencies, banks, insurance firms and subscription services about the move. Also set up postal redirection for a year to ensure nothing is missed.
Update your marketing materials
Including the company website, business cards, brochures, letterheads, email signatures and voicemails.
Moving in 2018
If you’re planning to move in 2018, there is already plenty to start thinking about, and the quiet period over Christmas and the New Year is a good time to get the wheels in motion. Think about:
Appointing a project team
Engage with key stakeholders within your organisation including HR, IT, marketing and finance, to create a project team and produce a brief. Participants will need to be good communicators, understand what is required from the office move and can cascade information to employees effectively.
Pick the right location for your business, your staff and for attracting new talent
The location of your workforce is very important and the decision you make about a new location needs to be the right one for your business and workforce, both now and in the future.
Understand the costs involved and budget accordingly
Whether you are moving miles away or just up the road, you need to be clear on your budget and all the costs involved. If you haven’t moved office before you may not know where to begin with setting a budget. Here are some of the costs you should consider alongside insurances, rent, security and other expenses: dilapidation costs, removal costs, agent fees, lease finance, furniture, legal fees and fit out costs.
Think about future growth and the productivity of your workforce
If you plan to expand the business, will the new space allow for this expansion? Good design will reduce the risk of you having to completely change your space during your lease. Good surroundings and access to natural light can reduce stress for employees.
Design an office that works for your business
Think about how the design of the office will stimulate minds and inspire your workforce. Do you require one floor or multiple floors, what cabling will you need for phone lines and data, is there enough space for desks, storage and breakout areas for staff, are services such as air conditioning, plumbing, heating and waste shared with other tenants in the building, is there enough power for your business requirements?
Manage your IT requirements
Carry out a data and IT audit to identify what data you currently store and what your IT requirements may be in the future. Think about outsourcing the move of your IT equipment to a specialist firm who can also set it up in your new office and ensure you are ready to hit the ground running when you open.
Consider the environment
The advantages of a sustainable office include increased productivity, reduced energy costs and a more efficient workplace. Something that makes a big difference and is often overlooked is double glazing. It can help save money on your energy bills as well as reduce external noise.
Work with a workplace relocation and design firm
It is unlikely that you will have an in-house property manager to deal with all the aspects of the move. Outsourcing this can save you time and money, but perhaps most importantly, it can help to relieve some of the stress of the move and enable you and your team to do what you do best, running your business.
Simon Gammell is director of Crown Workplace.