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7 Underestimated Office Relocation Problems (and How to Avoid Them)

Updated: Apr 24

Office Move Challenges

If you’re preparing to move your company from one office to another, you’ll know it’s a huge project. You’ve probably wondered “What are common challenges people like me face when planning for an office move?”

We’ve been supporting companies through office relocations for over 15 years. In this article, we’ll go through 7 of the most common and underestimated problems that people like you face when moving office. These are:

- Not Allowing Enough Time

- Not Creating a Detailed Brief

- Not Finding an Appropriate Space

- Lack of Leadership Alignment

- Staff Resistance to Change

- Rising Costs

- IT De/Recommissioning

These are not the only problems you will face when moving office. However, these are the 7 challenges many companies underestimate, which puts the success of their project at risk. In this article, we’ll go through each of these problems in turn, and explain the problem, as well as how you can avoid it. By the end, you’ll be much better prepared to ensure your office move is a success.

1) Not Allowing Enough Time

The first mistake many companies make is they don’t allow enough time for their office relocation project. There is a lot more to moving your office than packing and unpacking boxes (if only it was that easy!) If you don’t allow enough time, you have to rush the subsequent stages – especially planning. As a result, the chances of making other mistakes are much higher. If you are not ready to move in time, you may have to sign a short-term lease extension with your current landlord, or even move to a temporary office.

Exactly how long an office relocation takes will depend on the size and complexity of your project. For example, a 10,000 sq/ft project will take 12 months. To learn more, read How Long Does it Take to Move Office?

How to Avoid this Problem

The way to avoid rushing your office relocation is by having a clear workspace strategy that looks at least 3-5 years ahead. A key part of this will be when your current lease expires and any lease breaks. You’ll then know when you need to move office. Consequently, you can start planning in time.

2) Not Creating a Detailed Brief

Creating a detailed brief for your design & build company is absolutely crucial. This will enable them to create a workspace that will maximise the performance of your company and people. If you do not create a detailed brief, your D&B company won’t have enough information they need to create the best package for your needs. As a result, it will take a lot more of your time to feedback and improve the design. The finished result will also not be as good.

Your brief will need to detail key requirements for your new office design. Essential details would be your current head count, staff growth plans, working model, and brand personality. You would also need to include any specific technical requirements, such as trading desks.

How to Avoid this Problem

Again, a comprehensive workspace strategy is how to avoid this problem. The most important part of your workspace strategy details how your staff use your workspace. To learn more about what goes into a good workspace strategy, read this article. When it’s time to move office, this high-level plan will give your design & build firm the background they need to create your dream office. To learn more, read how to create an office fit out brief.

3) Not Finding an Appropriate Space

Many companies start their research by looking at the open market 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. As a result, their office relocation is doomed to fail before they have barely begun.

There is much more to finding an appropriate office space than the size and upfront cost. Size and cost are very important of course, but they aren’t everything. There are 5 other crucial considerations: location, condition, amenities, transport links, and lease terms. To learn more, read How to choose a new office.

How to Avoid this Problem

To find the space best for your business needs over the next 5-10 years, you need to work with a commercial estate agent experienced in your area. They will be able to get a detailed understanding of your needs, and then use their contacts and experience to create a long list of spaces, including those not on the open market. To learn more about the process of finding a new office, read this article.

4) Lack of Leadership Alignment

A lack of alignment between key decision-makers and influencers is a very common issue. This often stems from a lack of workspace strategy and project planning. If the relevant leaders in your project are not aligned before you start, resolving conflicts mid-project will be difficult and frustrating. It will also be very time-consuming. In some cases, the process grinds to a halt and the entire project is cancelled.

The key people who need to be aligned on the project purpose are the decision maker(s) (often the CEO, COO or CFO), high-level management, and the internal project manager (often facilities/ HR/ office manager). Depending on your company, other departments such as IT may need to be involved.

How to Avoid this Problem

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, at the bare minimum, key project objectives, rough budgets, and timelines. Aligning your leadership team on these three issues will prevent costly and damaging delays during implementation.

5) Staff Resistance to Change

As with any major change in your business, some staff will embrace it, most will comply with it, and a few will actively resist it. If your office relocation plan is communicated poorly, most of your staff will resist the change. This will make implementing your office move very, and the desired improvements are unlikely to happen. The project will be very frustrating for you, and your company will not see the ROI they were looking for.

Not all change resistance is vocal and early. If your staff don’t approve of certain changes to their working model, they may just not comply with the change. A common example is hot-desking. In many cases, staff resist hot desking by leaving personal equipment at one workstation permanently to claim it as their own.

How to Avoid this Problem

To make sure your staff all embrace (or at least comply with) your office relocation plan you have to engage them early on in the process. It's important to understand their frustrations with the current workspace, as well as what would make them more productive. To learn more, read how to make your office relocation less stressful.

6) Rising Costs

Rising costs are one of the biggest challenges of many construction projects. At worst, they can mean you run out of budget completely and your contractor pulls off-site. You are left with a half-finished office, nowhere for your staff to work, and legal proceedings impending. At best, you have to pay more than you thought you would, and your relationship with your design & build partner is damaged.

There are two key reasons why so many office design & build projects incur mid-project cost increases. Office fit outs are complex projects, so it is not always possible to know everything that will be needed before the project starts. Many projects also have mid-project specification changes which obviously increase costs.

How to Avoid this Problem

To ensure your project is not derailed by mid-project price increases, you need to work on a fixed-cost contract with your design & build company. You also need to set the right budget in the first place, as not allowing enough capital will make it much more difficult to stay on budget. Read this article for 5 ways to keep your office fit out on budget.

7) IT De/Recommissioning Delays

The final element many companies underestimate is the difficulties that relocating your IT equipment can pose. If managed well, it won't be noticed by anyone else. If there are delays or difficulties though, this can be a very serious issue. If your staff didn’t have access to certain systems or internet connection for several days (or even hours) your new office could descend into chaos.

Beyond servers and data cabinets, there is also personal IT equipment to consider. If you have non-mobile IT equipment, such as desktops, long delays will prevent your people from working at all. This could be particularly problematic for responsive departments such as customer service.

How to Avoid this Problem

The key to avoiding IT de/recommissioning delays is careful planning. You will need to create a detailed list of everything that needs to be decommissioned, and how long it will take. You will also need to consider how long it will take to move the IT equipment to the new location and set it up again. This should be done out of hours, preferably over a weekend, to minimise the disruption this could cause to your office relocation.

Planning Your Office Relocation

Office relocation is a huge project. Throughout this project, you have hundreds of risks to manage and decisions to make. Now that you know about the 7 most common and underestimated office relocation issues, you can make sure you avoid these in your own project. There are many other potential mistakes, some of which will be unique to your project. To avoid these, you need to plan carefully, communicate well, and always remain focussed on achieving your project objectives.

To learn more about preparing for your office move, download the ultimate guide to office relocation. It’s one comprehensive guide that will help you understand everything that goes into an office relocation, what it costs, and how long it will take. Download your copy here.

To find out more about common design & build mistakes, read about the Top 7 Office Design Mistakes. It covers the most common office design mistakes we see, and how you can avoid them in your own project.



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