Moving house is often cited as one of life’s most stressful experiences. And while a move in your professional life may not bring quite the same upheaval, relocating your office is certainly up there when it comes to stress levels. Most importantly, it signals a transition; whether the business has grown, or you’ve decided to look at a new area for one reason or another, something has changed. As a small business we’ve done it ourselves, in both London and Manchester, so here are our top three take-aways to help others make the relocating as seamless as possible.
Location, location, location
Location is likely to be the most important element in any office move. Our Manchester team was previously in a converted mill in Stockport. The building was fantastic but we found that it was taking us almost an hour to travel into Manchester city centre for client meetings or networking events. Equally, when our London team moved offices, we made sure that nobody had to incur a long walk to the tube on their way home.
Is there somewhere for people to grab a coffee on their way to work? Or to take clients for lunch? Ask yourself what you want from a location – is it about being in an area that’s renowned for fostering tech start-ups? That’s close to your clients? That’s near like-minded businesses?
If you’re in a serviced office you’re likely to have meeting rooms available. These may come at a cost however so it’s important to factor this in from the start. If it’s adding up, you may want to explore what’s available in the local vicinity. Or, is the cost of hiring a meeting room cancelled out by paying for a few extra square feet?
Renting vs buying
Inevitably, you’ll also have to consider some of the hidden costs, including business rates. Walk 20 minutes down the road and these can differ dramatically so do your research to avoid a nasty surprise.
When renting, it’s important to weigh up the risk of taking a longer lease. While this generally means you’ll get a better deal, it can potentially tie you in for upwards of five years –possibly without a break clause. If you know that you’re about to undergo significant growth, then a shorter lease may be a better fit.
Always read the small print on the contract. It sounds obvious but it’s easy to get caught out here, from understanding who pays for a leaky roof to transparency over the electric bill.
Don’t forget the little things when relocating
Location and the financials are some of the bigger considerations but don’t let these dominate to the point that you forget the little things. Getting your broadband up and running will be the biggest item on your ‘to do’ list ahead of the move. It’s never too early to start this process. Check what the connectivity options are in your preferred location, and again check the small print. The package may look reasonable but it might just be an entry level service that won’t support the bandwidth you’ll actually need.
There are plenty of other ‘little things’ you can be doing ahead of time too. From making sure that each member of staff has a set of keys, to finding out where to collect the post if you’re in a shared building, to updating any directory or Google listings, so you can be found online from day one.
On the day, it’s important you have a schedule in place; it doesn’t need to be a military operation, but an idea of what’s happening and when will help to keep you in check. Our Manchester office’s previous home was a large converted mill with a 150-year-old service lift so warning the removal company about access and how they were going to get everything out was important!
Relocating your premises is a big change but it’s also an exciting one! Our London, Manchester and Paris teams have all undergone moves in the last few years and, by all working together, the teams have been incredibly supportive each time, always looking forward to growth and ‘what’s next.’ Of course a celebratory bottle of prosecco at the end of the day also helps and should be mandatory on your checklist on the day!
Nikki Scrivener is director of Fourth Day PR