• How to handle an office relocation

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    An office move can be an overwhelming project, with many factors coming into play from the new office’s location, its transport links and whether it has enough parking spaces. Simon Gammell, director at Crown Workspace, shares his top five tips to help ease the whole process.

    As a PA, you tend to know the ins and outs of a business – the organisational structure, who’s leaving and joining, where people sit in the office, and who to call when things go wrong with the air conditioning.

    A PA’s job extends far beyond that of a regular employee. You are typically a trusted adviser to the senior management team and a fountain of knowledge for people to tap into. Because you are a trusted adviser, you are also often tasked with activities that fall outside of your remit.

    A great number of enquiries we receive about office relocations and updating workplace design, come from PAs. They are typically tasked by the CEO to shortlist a few companies who can provide an office relocations service or an office fit out. In some cases, PAs are tasked with managing the project from start to finish.

    We understand that project work such as this is not something you are an expert in, and it is likely that your boss hasn’t given you much information to go by to carry out the task.

    Having worked with many PAs on these types of projects, we’ve compiled our five top tips to help you manage an office relocation, fit-out and design.

    1. Know your budget and select a project team internally
    One of the most important things you need to do before you start the process is find out what the budget is for the project work/office move. When we ask businesses for their budget, on nine out of ten occasions they don’t know what it is. It is very difficult for us to provide advice and a proposal when a budget hasn’t been set. Be aware that 60 per cent of the budget you’ll spend on an office refurb or relocation will be on things you cannot see, such as air conditioning and lighting, so factor those costs in accordingly.

    “Getting your employees excited about the new office space is an important step in the transition, and a necessary one.”

    Get an internal project team together. You need to start the process by engaging 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 or redesign and can cascade information to employees effectively. They needn’t be experts in the process, but some experience of the business practicalities involved will be beneficial.

    2. Find out what your co-workers really want
    As soon as your boss decides to move office or update the office design and environment, urge them to allow you to send out a survey asking your co-workers what they’d most like to see from the new office space.

    Results from a survey we carried out with 500 SME business owners across Britain highlighted that employees most desire the following from their office space:

    • 23 per cent stated gym and fitness classes
    • 21 per cent a rooftop terrace or garden
    • 18 per cent an indoor garden
    • 16 per cent a creche or nursery
    • 13 per cent sleeping pods

    Bear in mind the desires of your co-workers to help you find a solution that makes the majority happy. Location is of course one of the most important factors in where a business relocates – is the location commutable for employees, does it have enough car parking, are you close to clients, are all things you need to ask during the process

    3. Ensure the senior management team is involved from the get go
    It’s crucial to get the senior management team involved in the decision-making process from the outset. Our survey results showed that only 20 per cent of the c-suite are involved in matters relating to the workplace environment and design. Failure to be a part of it can have a detrimental impact on the wellbeing of staff and the firm’s bottom line. By ensuring the senior team are part of the decision process at the start, you are less likely to need to make changes to the project work further down the line – this could save money and time.

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    4. What to consider when it comes to design
    Everyone within your organisation will have an idea on how the office should look and what it should include. Don’t get hung up on the latest design trends – the stripped back industrial design is what’s hot right now, but that might not be the right look for your brand and the sector your business operates in. Make the design personal to your organisation and think about the things you really need from the space and layout – what type of tables and chairs will you require and how many, will you need a hot desking space for agile working, think about energy efficient measures, requirements for data management and IT, cabling, and what you may need from the space in the future.

    5. Plan an event when the work is done
    Once your new space is ready, it’s time to plan a get together. Getting your employees excited about the new office space is an important step in the transition, and a necessary one. An Australian study found that many employees can be very attached to their workspaces, especially if they have worked in the same building or area for a significant amount of time. Hosting an office party is a great way to show off the new office space, bring everyone together, especially if you have a part of the workforce that spends most of the time out of the office or working from home.

  • AUTHOR

    Jade Burke

    Jade Burke, Editor for PA Life

    All stories by: Jade Burke