Office Relocation Process
Are you looking for a new office for your company? Are you slightly overwhelmed by all the factors to consider? If so, you’re probably wondering how to find your new office.
Since 2008, we’ve been supporting companies in London and across the UK with office relocation. We offer a turnkey service customised to your needs. This covers helping develop your workspace strategy, finding and securing a new space, as well as designing and then building your new office interior.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the process we use when helping our clients to find a new office space – from strategy to negotiation. By the end, you’ll know what the key steps are in finding a new office. You'll be much better prepared to help your company make the best decision possible.
Of course, finding a new office space is only one part of planning an office relocation. To learn more about the entire process, download the ultimate office relocation guide. There, you’ll learn everything you need to start planning an office refurbishment, including checklists, processes, timeframes, and costs.
Create/ Review Workspace Strategy
The first step toward finding your perfect new office is reviewing or creating your workspace strategy. It’s a high-level document that details how your company's office will help the business achieve its goals. This includes considerations such as productivity, communication, culture, and wellbeing. At its core, it’s a vision of how your workspace can support your company.
This may seem like an unnecessary layer of complexity in what is already a challenging project. However, it’s an essential step. By defining why your company even has an office, you can then ensure every subsequent stage is aligned with this. As a result, your office truly helps your company achieve its overall goals.
Define Project Objectives
Project objectives distill your workspace strategy into 1-3 key deliverables for the project. These could be strategic (eg, improve innovation), operational (eg, increase office attendance), and/or financial (eg, reduce real estate operating costs).
It’s absolutely crucial that these objectives are measurable. You will measure the success of your project by your performance against these goals. Ideally, they should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timebound).
The next step is to define the necessary requirements for your new space. These should be directly linked to your overall project objectives. Key criteria to consider for your new office are:
- Transport links
- Building quality/ specification
- Lease costs
- Running costs
- Quality of building services
- Building features
You may also have other criteria depending on your specific requirements.
Some criteria will often be in conflict with other factors. This means you need to prioritise all the factors so there isn't any confusion or conflict about what matters most. It is also helpful to define minimum and preferred requirements for each criteria, as you are unlikely to get everything you want in one office.
You will also need to consider how your workspace needs will change over time, and how this will affect your criteria. For example, growth plans will need to be considered when deciding what size space you need.
Engage with Agent/ Broker
If you haven't already started speaking to real estate agents or brokers, now is the time to do so. An experienced agent or broker will be essential for the next few phases of the project. They can use their experience and network to make your search as fast and painless as possible. They may also be able to review the previous two stages of your planning process and suggest improvements.
It’s crucial that your agent or broker is an expert in the local market and experienced in finding the type of office space you are looking for. A professional agent will also have a good knowledge of potential properties that are not on the open market, which are typically easier and cheaper to secure.
Once you have reviewed and agreed upon your space criteria with your agent, they will be able to use their network and experience to create a list of all the available spaces that meet your criteria. You can then work with them to choose a longlist of 8-10 properties that best meet your requirements.
If your criteria are too restrictive, you may have to loosen them to find suitable properties. If your agent’s search is returning too many options, you will need to tighten your criteria.
Your next step will be to conduct more in-depth research into the properties and visit the properties with key members of your project team. You are looking to choose the most suitable 2 or 3 options that can be taken to the next round. It can be helpful to rank the options by scoring them according to a weighted matrix of the criteria you defined in the planning stage.
Once you have a finalised shortlist of 2 or 3 options, you will be able to involve key decision-makers such as your CEO and CFO. At this stage, you will likely have a clear preference. However, it is still important to have options in case negotiations for your preferred space break down.
Once you have selected your shortlist, you can work with your agent or solicitor on preliminary negotiations of lease terms. This should be done as early as possible, as lease terms will be part of your ranking criteria.
The key negotiation points in an office lease are annual costs per sq/ft (the main cost), the overall lease length, and break clauses (points during the lease where you and/or the landlord can end the lease without financial penalty).
Other major considerations are rent-free periods (typically 1-3 months while you fit out the new space), service charges (e.g. concierge costs), and indemnity clauses (a framework for settling disputes out of court). There are also many other minor factors, so working with a qualified and experienced solicitor is crucial.
Now that you have 2-3 properties that meet your criteria, ranked by preference and with headline terms negotiated, it’s time to make the final decision. You will also need to consider each option in the light of the initial planning stages – how each space would fulfil your workspace strategy and project objectives.
The final call on such an important decision will likely rest with the CEO, but it's important to consider different perspectives. This is a major investment and a big project for your company, so making (and keeping) all key stakeholders aligned is crucial.
Finding Your New Office
Now that you know the process of how to find the best possible office space for your company, you’re in a much better position to make a success of your office relocation. While it may be tempting to start searching online for potential spaces right away, it's important that you don’t. This will skew your process and make you less likely to find the best possible space.
To make your search for a new office as successful as possible, it’s important you use all the stages of the planning and searching process. This will ensure you know exactly what you need as a company, and then give you the framework to find the best possible space. Finding your new space is an absolutely crucial part of your office relocation, so you need to get it right.
To learn more about the entire process of moving office, download the ultimate office relocation guide. There, you’ll learn everything you need to start planning an office refurbishment, including checklists, processes, timeframes, and costs.
To learn more about comparing potential offices, read 8 Things to Look For When You Move Office. It explains 8 of the most important building features to look for when choosing your new office.