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Making your office relocation a success

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You’ve decided to move to a new office to infuse your company with a new, positive dynamism.

But there’s so much else to think about beyond your ideal vision. Moving offices is a sensitive phase in a company’s life cycle.

A huge increase in costs, a negative impact on staff and a slowdown in productivity are all risks that underprepared companies may run.

These challenges are why Buroconcept offers specially designed services to help you prepare for this transition and support you along the way.

David Van Gelder, CEO of Buroconcept, has explained the inspiration behind them to us.

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How do companies generally approach an office relocation?

Clients normally want to move offices because of a lack of organisation or a space that no longer meets their current or future needs. For example, they may need to deal with an increase in remote working within their company or a dilapidated building. So then they turn to an estate agent, who are experts in consultancy and helping clients find a building.

Isn’t working with an estate agent enough?

No. You also need the input of experts who can advise about fitting out buildings and assessing a company’s needs on an organisational level. This will help identify the challenges involved in changing from one type of office set-up to another and translate what the company really needs in terms of space, function and technology.

What impact will not having access to this input have on the search for a building?

Without this expertise, it will not identify buildings that are truly fit for purpose because a needs assessment stage will not have been conducted.

What is more, no thought will have been given to whether changing office is the right move at that time. Once we have helped you identify your company’s needs, it will be much easier to determine whether your current building could be made to work for you with a few changes.

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And that could save you unnecessary expenditure.

Exactly, but that’s not all. There are of course costs related to the search for building, but you also have to think about the resources that such an operation would require.

Your teams who have to move into new offices will be less efficient initially. 

What’s the best way to avoid these slipups? 

If you don’t identify your real needs, you won’t have a logical plan to follow. By working with a designer like Buroconcept, companies can identify their exact requirements when it comes to the functionality of the building.

They will then be able to compare these requirements to what their existing office offers to see whether or not it fits the bill.

If it doesn’t, then the search for a building can begin based on clear, specific and exhaustive specifications drawn up by an expert.

What aspects of an office move do companies normally neglect to consider?

Companies normally only look at the square footage they need. They often look at the square footage they currently have and then adjust it in line with the number of full-time equivalent staff they have. If the team is growing by 50%, then they think that the amount of space they need should increase in proportion. However, that’s not the right equation to use. Square footage isn’t everything.

This approach fails to consider a whole raft of things, which means that the final building is not fit for purpose.

This can trigger resignations and an office layout that is inefficient or unsuitable, and make the company a less attractive place for new talent.

Aside from the square footage they need, what else do companies need to consider?

How the building will suit the company’s basic operations, the capital costs, and the schedule for the move. They all have an effect on the final budget.

Do you have any examples of relocations that have been way over budget because the phasing has not been followed?

Companies often remember to take rent, taxes and other aspects into account in their calculations but forget about capital costs.

These costs are defined during the needs identification phase.

The company might therefore budget for a benchmark of €400–500 per square foot without thinking more carefully. In some cases, the building they rent is only a skeleton and needs fitting out and decorating.

The monthly lease might be cheap, but the capital costs are huge!

Their initial calculations will be way off. Or, as another example, they might have taken on a building that doesn’t meet the required standards for heating, lighting, and fire safety, among other things.

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What is the impact of these additional costs?

If capital costs rise significantly, the work needed to set up the office layout will have to be done on a shoestring.

It may not even be possible to do it right.

The company might then have to save money by buying old or unsuitable furniture, negatively impacting the suitability of the final office set-up.

You talked about a schedule. Finding a building without a clear objective takes time, as does getting it set up. What consequences does this have on the office relocation?

From what I’ve seen, HR is the first aspect to suffer. It’s not sufficiently integrated into the process. However, these are the people who understand what it takes to keep the company operating. In a sense, they are able to translate the company’s requirements in terms of functionality into tools.

In addition, staff might not always be integrated into this process in a way that works with the schedule. Change management is a crucial part of the office relocation process. Without it, staff will not understand the relocation process. This could lead to talent leaving the company, as I mentioned before.

At the end of this phasing, how do you determine whether the project has been a success?

For us, it’s when the outcome is sustainable in the sense that it’s long lasting.

The most sustainable project is one that doesn’t require more investment further down the line to make it (more) efficient.

Precisely defined phasing is what helps us reach this goal.

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