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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Moving Office

Updated: May 13

Office Relation Problems

Moving your company from one office to another is an expensive, lengthy, and time-consuming project. It will have a major impact on the lives of your people and the performance of your company. There are hundreds of decisions to make and hundreds of things that could go right - or wrong.


At Zentura, we’ve been designing & building workspaces and managing office relocations for 15 years. In this article, we’ll explain the 5 most common mistakes we see companies make when moving office, and how you can avoid them. By the end, you'll know how to avoid major mishaps in your project, setting you up for success.


1) Unrealistic Budget

The most common mistake we encounter when talking to companies about their office relocation is about budget. Often, companies have budgeted 20-40% less than benchmark office fit out costs, and consequently are surprised when they get quotes.


This is very frustrating for you because you have to allow more budget. Alternatively, you have to reduce the specification and quality of your project to fit within the initial budget. However, this will lead to a less productive and enjoyable office design.


To avoid this mistake, research industry benchmark office relocation and office fit out costs. This will give you a starting point to set an initial budget. You can then work with your chosen fit out company to finalise the brief and budget. Of course, you have to balance your ideal project budget with available funds, but starting with benchmarks will prevent frustrating budgeting issues.


2) Unrealistic Timescales

Often we see companies start planning their office relocation too late. To compensate, they then set unrealistic timescales for their project. As a result, they have to rush all of the subsequent stages. This increases the chance of serious mistakes being made.


There is much more to relocating an office than finding a new space and moving into it. You need to define your workspace strategy and requirements. You then need to review and shortlist several spaces, before carrying out due diligence and then negotiating the lease. Before you can move in, you will also have to design & fit out the office space.


The size and complexity of your move will dictate the timeframes. For projects between 5,000 and 10,000 sq/ft we recommend planning at least 12 months in advance. Larger projects will require up to 18 months or even 2 years. To learn more about office relocation timescales, read how long does it take to move office?


3) Not Creating a Detailed Brief

Another common mistake we see many companies make is creating a brief that is vague or not comprehensive. Consequently, there is disagreement or confusion amongst your team, which can lead to serious issues down the line.


A project brief without sufficient detail can also lead to a design that is completely wrong for your needs. At best, this would be a waste of time, while at worst it could mean you go ahead with the wrong space and/or design.


Your project brief needs to take your overall workspace strategy and distill it into key objectives and deliverables for this one project. These can be both financial (e.g., reducing real estate costs) and operational (e.g., enabling hybrid working). It’s important that these objectives are measurable. You will judge the success of your office relocation by your performance against these metrics. To learn more about creating a good brief, read this article.


4) Not Finding an Appropriate Space

Many companies start their research by looking for spaces in roughly the right location, roughly the right size, and as cheap as possible. This approach leads to a long list of offices that are in the wrong location, often too small, and with some serious drawbacks in the lease terms.


There is much more to finding an appropriate office space than the size and upfront cost. There are 5 other crucial considerations: location, condition, amenities, transport links, and lease terms. It’s important to define your search first by location, size, and transport, as all the other aspects can be improved by negotiation.


To find the space best for your business needs, you need to work with a commercial estate agent experienced in your location. They will be able to get a detailed understanding of your needs, and then use their contacts and experience to create a longlist of the best possible spaces. To learn more about choosing an office, read this article.


5) Lack of Alignment

If your project team is not aligned on the goals and constraints of your office relocation, then making your project successful will be almost impossible. Decision-making will be slow and there may be conflict.


The key people who need to be aligned on the project purpose are the decision maker (often the CEO, COO or CFO), high-level management (the rest of the C-suite/ core leadership team), and the internal project manager (often the facilities/ HR/ office manager).


To make sure you are aligned, it’s important all relevant leaders fully agree with the brief you give to your design & build company. This should include key project objectives, rough budgets, and timelines. Aligning your leadership team on these three factors will prevent costly and damaging delays during implementation. To learn more about building and aligning your project team, read Who Do I Need to Involve in My Office Fit Out?


Planning Your Office Move

When planned and executed well, an office relocation can be a huge advantage for your business. It can help to improve productivity and communication as well as talent attraction and retention, among a host of other benefits. Unfortunately, a lack of effective planning and management means many relocations make major mistakes. This leads to a stressful overbudget project that doesn’t deliver the desired results.


By learning about these mistakes, the impact they can have, and how to avoid them in your own office move, you've taken a crucial first step to making sure your office relocation is the success you need it to be. Whether you're just getting started or already mid-project, applying these learnings will improve your office move.


To take the next step, download The Ultimate Office Relocation Guide. There, you'll get the full breakdown of how to plan your office move, complete with step-by-step checklists.



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