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Relocation Guide

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Use this step by step guide to help your move go as smoothly as possible
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Note from OfficeMan

The environment that you work in can have a huge impact on your business. From the office layout, size and style; the furniture and storage you use; location and transport links and even the type of building your office is in; it can all play a part in nurturing a positive atmosphere to both your staff and your clients.

There is no doubt that moving office can be a complicated process. There are many things to consider, and you will find yourself balancing a number of objectives.

At Office Man we know that a little forward planning can pay off in the long run. To help make things go smoother and to take away some of the stress, we’ve put together a step by step guide to assist you whilst you manage your move.

Prepare your Brief

To begin with you should prepare a project brief, clearly outlining your aims for the move. Your brief should include plans for the type of building you require; its location; the size of your office space and the interior fit-out.

However, like so many aspects of life, you don't always know what you want until you've tested the waters. It's perfectly usual to go back and review your original plans, so don't worry if you start your search before finalising what you want.

Work out your timescale

After forming the brief and understanding what you are looking for you need to work out your timescales.

Find out if you are governed by a fixed deadline on the office you will be leaving, such as a lease break or lease expiry.  If this is the case, it’s critical to the planning of your timescales.

In all, you will need to allow enough time to find a new building, agree the new lease terms and arrange the internal structure of your office according to your needs.  You then need to allow time for any necessary works to take place before finally moving your team.

The exact timeframes will differ depending on a number of variables; however the following timescales can be used as a guide:

 Office Size  Approx timescale for the move
 1,000-3,000 sq ft  4-8 months
 5,000-10,000 sq ft   9-12 months
 10,000 sq ft +  12 months +
Draw up a budget

To keep track of finances, you will need to draw up a budget. Be realistic when doing this and try to stick to it as much as possible (though also take into consideration any areas that may be open for change). There’s no doubt that relocation is a major investment for your business, and you don’t want to be stung by any unforeseen costs.

There are not only the costs of the new building to consider (such as rent and rates), but the costs of any changes to the interior of the office space, more commonly known as the fit-out. Here are a few costs you’ll need to keep in mind:

  • · Allow for agency, legal and surveyor fees.
  • · The fit-out refurbishment
  • · The IT infrastructure, hardware and software support
  • · New telephone systems
  • · Furniture costs

Aim to have a contingency budget of between 5-10% of the project total. This will cover any unexpected developments along the way.

You will be able to take advantage of capital allowances, which are a form of tax relief on the fit out works on your office. This can significantly reduce the cost of your refurbishment and relocation. Consider talking to a tax expert as up to 70% of the relocation and refurbishment could be eligible for some form of tax relief.

You will only get specific costs about decorating the interior office space when you formally invite fit-out companies to quote for the work. However the following figures can be used as a rough guide:

A basic economical fit out can be achieved for under £20 per sq ft
A Mid range fit out usually costs between £20 and £40 per sq ft
A High end fit out will usually cost in excess of £40+ per sq ft

Arrange finance

You will need to consider how you are going to fund the project. Most companies tend to self-finance the project however there are a number of other solutions available to your business. These options include financing and leasing.

It’s advisable to consult with your accountant at this stage, as they will be best placed to advise you on how to proceed.

If you would like to find out more about these options, Office Man can put you in touch with the right people. Just click contact us and drop us a quick message.

Find a Building

Don't underestimate the importance of finding the right kind of building for your business. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • · Do you require an office with a corporate feel, a period office or even something more akin with media companies such as a converted warehouse?
  • · Do you prefer your office to be on one floor, or you would you be happy for it to be split over multiple levels?
  • · Is a multi-tenanted building right for you, or would a self contained building be more suitable to your needs?
  • · Do you require raised floor or perimeter trunking for your IT infrastructure?

It's also very important to plan your office size requirements carefully. Getting an office size wrong can be a very costly mistake. Take on too much space, and the cost of the lease can be a problem; take on too little space, and you risk staff 'pile-up'! The last thing you need is cramped, uncomfortable working conditions; this often results in yet another office move and further disruption and moving costs.

You can arrange for a contractor to carry out a space audit based on your existing space and working practices and any expansion or contraction plans that you may have for the future. As a general rule of thumb the average office works out at around 100 sq ft per person.

When you’re looking for a new office, consider the surroundings and location. You’ll want to think about things such as:

  • · Travel links (for example, buses, trains and access to the motorway)
  • · The availability of parking
  • · Local amenities

You may also want to consider how far away from your current office you move. A major change in location may mean some staff chose not to move with you. If you have regular clients visiting, consider also how they will reach you.

It is worth utilising the services of an acquisition agent to help you find the right office space. An acquisition agent will usually have access to most properties available on the market and can save you hours trawling the web and speaking to individual agents to see what they have on their books.

If you would like to find out more about using commercial property agents, OfficeMan can put you in touch. Simply contact us and let us know.

Make an offer on the property

Once you have found the right office for your business you will need to make an offer on the property.

When negotiating the terms of the lease it is important to consider the following points:

Rental price or rent-free period

  • · What is the best rental price that you can achieve?
  • · It is worth doing a bit of research into recent comparable transactions to get a feel for market rents in the area.
  • · Most landlords will offer you a rent-free period at the beginning of the lease, to help cover the fit-out costs of the office. This is a strong negotiating point where huge savings can be made.
  • · When conducting your research into comparable transactions check the length of the rent-free period that is being offered.

Service charge

  • · The service charge covers the running of the common parts of the building.
  • · For peace of mind, you should look into capping the service charge. If the landlord carries out major improvements or significant maintenance work, this will make sure your service charge will not exceed the agreed cap.

Flexibility

  • · If you need flexibility, such as the option to leave before the end of the lease, consider negotiating a break clause.

Making an offer on a property can be a rather complex process, so it’s advisable to use an experienced commercial property agent at this stage.

  • · More often than not, the fee you will pay will be more than compensated by the savings that they will make you by negotiating a good deal.
  • · Some agents will also be willing to base their fee structures around the savings made.
Appoint a fit out contractor

Once you have found a suitable office, use OfficeMan to select the best fit-out supplier.

The modern design and build approach of using fit-out contractors is generally recognised as the most cost-effective and time efficient way to undertake projects under 100,000 sq ft. This kind of package combines the services of an architect, technical engineers and contractors, therefore makes the co-ordination and management of processes much easier.

Also, unlike with traditional builds, this approach allows you to get a fixed quote and establish costs before any work gets underway. The fit-out contractor should give you accurate figures for the entire project.

Start by compiling a shortlist of potential fit-out partners. OfficeMan allows you to highlight your favourite suppliers and remove those who are unsuitable. Once you have compiled a shortlist arrange face-to-face meetings to discuss your project in depth.

  • · Always make sure that you meet the implementation team, not just the sales team.
  • · Always make sure you check the contractors Office Man feedback ratings for peace of mind regarding the safe delivery of your project.

A fit out company will usually start by drawing up a space plan for you.

A space plan involves working with individual floor plans to plot the most effective layout for your new office. You will need to ask the landlord’s agent to provide Computer Aided Design (CAD / DWG) files for accurate drawings.

A good fit-out company will visit the space and take check of any necessary measurements to ensure that their space plan is as accurate as possible.

While the majority of fit-out companies will offer you a free space plan, do not feel obliged to use them for your project if they do. It is their choice to offer you a free space plan so consider your needs and requirements carefully before choosing the right company for the build works.

Carry out a site survey

Before any work commences, use OfficeMan to hire a building surveyor to thoroughly examine the new premises. This will enable you to spot any structural, electrical or plumbing issues.

After identifying any deficiencies in the building, you can then go about incorporating them into the lease negotiations.

If problems are apparent, you can either negotiate a greater capital allowance or have the issue resolved by the landlord prior to your move.

Design your office

Now that you have selected your chosen fit-out partner and have had your report back from your surveyor, it’s time to start finalising your office design.

The environment you work in and the way in which you arrange your office space can have a huge impact on your business. Your office space needs to make a positive statement to both your staff and your clients.

The layout of your office space is a crucial consideration. From open-plan to cellular pods, a layout for one organization might not be the best layout for another. Don’t be put off by the current layout of an office, as this is where fit-out companies can help you redesign the space to meet your needs exactly. Here are just a few things you might want to consider to make the right decision on what’s best for your organisation:

  • · Communication. Do certain members of staff need to be grouped together in order to effectively communicate?
  • · Noise factor. Do you need a separate area for a telesales department?
  • · Management staff. Do senior managers and directors need their own offices?
  • · Breakout areas. Do you need spaces where staff can concentrate in silence, or where meetings and appraisals can take place without interruption?
  • · Reception area. Do you want this separate from your main body of staff or not?
  • · Kitchen and eating facilities. Do you need a large kitchen or will a small tea point be sufficient?
  • · Storage. Do you need filing cabinets or a separate storage room? If you’re unsure about the amount of storage required, you can arrange for a fit-out contractor to conduct a storage audit.

It may be worthwhile considering the existing features of the building. For example:

  • · Locating kitchens and tea points in areas where plumbing already exists
  • · Making the most of areas where natural light enters the building.

Make sure you integrate IT and infrastructure into your overall design. Wherever possible avoid trailing wires as they can appear unsightly as well as being a potential safety issue.

A well planned layout can benefit your company and help to increase staff productivity levels. Now is the time to make a lot of firm decisions. It’s impractical, not to mention expensive, to rearrange floor space afterwards.

Don’t forget to make your office green! No, not the colour of the walls (unless you want to)! Environmental issues are an increasingly important consideration. You’ve likely heard buzzwords such as ‘carbon footprint’ and ‘carbon offsetting’, so look at ways of reducing the impact your business has on the environment.

This may seem daunting at first, but there are a few easy ways to reduce your footprint.

  • · Start by reviewing your service providers. If possible, switch to a green energy supplier (one who sources their electricity from renewable sources)
  • · Also ensure that any new appliances have an energy efficiency rating and fit your office out with energy saving light bulbs
  • · Consider installing sensors in the office to automatically turn the lights off when not in use
  • · Additionally, check that your contractor is using environmentally friendly materials

Small changes now can save your company a lot of money in the future.

Select IT Supplier

A great IT and telecommunication system is crucial for any successful business. It is essential that you plan all of your IT and telecommunication needs ahead of the work. It’s not uncommon for there to be an 8 week lead time on phone lines!

Use OfficeMan to select an IT / Telecomms supplier

Ideally you want to hire a forward-thinking consultant who fully understands your company’s needs. Speak to your consultant about new areas of technology that can be installed to smooth out operations and increase productivity. When installing new systems, always ensure that they can be easily upgraded in the future. See technology as an investment, something that can be built on and aligned with the needs of your usiness.

Examine the security measures you currently have in place, and any ways to improve on them.

  • · Also ensure that you have a solid backup of data, in the event of an emergency
  • · Even an hour of downtime can be disastrous for operations, so consider upgrading your phone network, tightening up security or installing new handsets

Other things to be aware of are:

  • · If you are using new power, make sure that floor boxes have been located in the correct position. This will avoid potential clashes with desk legs!
  • · Where are the telecom services located in the building?
  • · Is the comms room big enough?
  • · And do you need a dedicated cooling system?

IT networks and telecom systems must be set up and ready to go before you start moving in storage facilities and furniture. Also ensure that you redirect your phone numbers to the new premises (you’d be amazed how many people forget this crucial step!).

License to alter

By now you’ve agreed the building you’ll be moving into, agreed the re-design of it with the fit-out company, and decided on IT and communications. Now you need to make it happen!

There are a number of approvals you need to acquire before you can start work. Your selected fit-out contractor should provide you with all the information and services you need to comply. Here are examples of some of the requirements you will need:

  • · License of Alteration. Your landlord will need to receive a copy of the plans and scope of the works, and give you a formal approval before you can commence with the fit-out. Usually, your fit-out contractor will provide you with all of the relevant information you will need.
  • · CDM Coordinator. If your project is of a certain length or requires a certain level of labour you will need to appoint a CDM Coordinator to produce a health and safety construction pack. In most circumstances, your fit-out contractor will appoint this person on your behalf.
  • · Building Control. You will need to submit your plans to the local authority building control for approval. It is standard practice for a fit-out contractor to do this on your behalf.

It’s vital to get all of the work approved. If you are unsure about any of these points, speak to your fit-out contractor.

Sign the Building contract

Most fit-out companies will have their own ‘design and build’ contract which will have negotiable terms in relation to:

  • · Payment Dates
  • · Practical Completion
  • · Retention
  • · Snags
  • · Defects

You may also want to consider a ‘liquidated damages’ clause. This will negate any losses occurred to you, as a result of delays made by the fit-out contractor.

Set out an agreed payment schedule. The more clearly this is set out, the less likely there is to be discrepancies later.

Select furniture supplier

If you’re not going to be taking your old furniture with you, you need to buy new office furniture.

When creating the ideal workspace, appearance is very important. You want your office environment to visually reflect your company in the best possible light. Selecting the right furniture can have a huge effect on the overall appearance of your office. However you need to ensure that comfort and ease of use is taken into consideration, as well as aesthetics.

Furniture doesn’t just refer to tables and chairs; it also incorporates furnishings such as lighting and cable covers.

  • · Bear in mind the purchase cost of furniture and any installation fees. Sit down with your design team and consider the options available to you.
  • · Always double check the delivery times available on furniture. Larger items may take longer to arrive, and your staff will need desks!
  • · Also check the continuity of any furniture that you lease or buy, for example make sure that the product line is set to continue for the foreseeable future. As time passes replacements will be required, and you may not want a ‘mix and match’ office style!
  • · It may be an idea to source all of your furnishings from one main supplier. Quite often you can save a lot of money by doing so, via bulk discounts.
Plan your departure

You will need to plan your departure in advance.

  • · Make sure you leave all your affairs in good order before you leave.
  • · Remember that you are responsible for fulfilling your companies lease obligations and returning the premises to its original condition.
  • · Generally speaking, you must leave the property as you found it. If you lay new carpets or partition walls, or painted the walls a different colour; be prepared to undo the modifications before you finally leave the building.

Remember to keep your staff in the loop. Moving can be a disorientating time for them so hold meetings to communicate any changes and provide them with help to settle into the new premises.

Select a removals company

Phew, you’re almost there! Now is the time to move everything from your staff to stationary, into your new office. Use OfficeMan to hire a removals company to help you with this process.

  • · Make sure that computers and any equipment are protected during the move, to prevent scratches and other damage.

Ensure that all of your emergency procedures in place. Even during the actual move always be fully prepared to deal with any emergencies that may arise. Make sure that the following procedures are in place:

  • · Offsite system backups in case of electrical faults
  • · Watertight security for both the premises and your network data
Let everyone know

Make sure that all of your clients and suppliers know your new address!

You may also want to review your stationary. Ensure that the contact information is up-to-date along with any websites, emails and on-line profiles.

Finally sit down and have a well-earned cup of tea in your new office. You deserve it!