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Top 5 Office Relocation Risks (And How to Manage Them)

Updated: Jan 15

Moving Office Problems

If you’re planning to relocate your company’s office, you’ll know it can be a complex and expensive project. There are also significant risks involved. If your office move doesn’t go to plan, your entire business operations could be reduced for days or even weeks. This would have very damaging consequences for company performance and staff wellbeing.


However, just because there are major risks associated with moving office, you are not helpless to reduce these risks. Far from it. By learning about the major risks that could derail your office relocation, you can then reduce the likelihood and severity of these risks impacting your project.


At Zentura, we manage many office relocations every year. As an office design & build company, we often use our network of estate agents, workplace consultants and relocation specialists to provide a turnkey package for our clients. This covers the entire relocation project, right from defining the brief and finding a new office to moving your staff and equipment into your new office.


In this article, we’ll break down the top 5 risks that every company faces when moving office. We’ll also explain how you can reduce the likelihood of them impacting your project, and the severity of that impact if they do occur.


1) Downtime/ Disruption

By far the biggest risk of moving office is disruption to your company’s operations. Although some level of disruption is inevitable, it is important that this is as temporary and minimal as possible. Preparing for the office move itself may be very distracting for your people, which will reduce their performance.


Downtime is the period of time when your office is not operational during the move. Keeping this to a minimum is crucial. Otherwise, productivity, sales and customer satisfaction could be reduced. To minimise the downtime and disruption of your office move, you need to plan the entire project. By creating a detailed timeline with key milestones and deadlines you will help keep your project on track. This is crucial, as a project running behind schedule can become very disorganised and disruptive for all staff.


You should also work with an experienced office relocation specialist who is qualified to handle your specific relocation requirements. While it may be tempting minimise costs by having your staff do much of the relocation, this will increase your project downtime – the time they are not serving customers. To eliminate complete downtime, you could even split your move into 2 or 3 phases so that some staff from each department are always operational.


2) Employee Engagement

One of the most difficult aspects of an office relocation is keeping your people on board with the change and supportive of the project. Moving office is a big change for your people personally. This is especially true if you are moving more than several miles away, or implementing a new office design.


Inevitably, your people will have fears and concerns about this level of change. If you do not address these, staff will assume the worst. As a result, their wellbeing and performance will decline, and you will have to deal with widespread resistance to the change. This will make your project much more difficult and less likely to be a success.


To avoid this, good communication from an early stage is essential. Rather than just explaining the “what” of the project, you should first explain the “why”. By communicating the reasons for the change, your staff will be much more likely to understand why it is needed. As a result, they will be much more supportive of the change.


Another major concern around employee engagement is how well staff use your new office. You may have made a significant investment in your office design, but this will not automatically make your people more productive – they also need to use the space well. To do this, you can work with a small group of change champions to educate them about the change. They can then model the change to their colleagues, helping them use the new office to its full potential.


3) IT Transition

Ensuring your IT equipment is seamlessly relocated and recommissioned is crucial. If the wifi doesn’t work or the phone system is not fully functional, the productivity of your people will be reduced. This will be very frustrating for your people and could cause your relocation to become very disorganised.


To avoid this, you should always work with an IT relocation specialist. While it may be tempting to think your IT team can handle this, an internally managed IT relocation is a huge risk. It may be simple in theory, but there are often issues that require troubleshooting. An experienced specialist used to working under pressure will be much better placed to deal with these issues.


You should also ensure you take a full inventory of your current IT equipment, and plan where it will be used in your new office. You will also need to consider what new IT equipment you will require, especially if you are expanding the size of your workspace.


4) Budget Overruns

Office relocations are often big investments with a lot of conflicting factors. Without careful planning and management, your office relocation project could exceed your budget. This would reduce the ROI and success of your project. Even worse, attempting to minimise cost overruns could also lead to time overruns and/or specification shortcuts. This could rapidly make your project very stressful and less successful.


To avoid this, you first need to set a realistic budget from the start. Otherwise, you are very unlikely to deliver a successful relocation. You should also have a contingency budget to allow for unforeseen circumstances. It is also helpful to track expenditure against a cost forecast. This will enable you to identify where any cost overruns are occurring before they become serious issues. A fixed-cost contract is also very beneficial.


It is also important to keep budget in context. It may be frustrating to incur extra costs, but this may well be a preferable option to the alternative of extended timeframes, specification shortcuts, or poor partner relationships.


5) Compliance/ Legal Obligations

There are many different areas of compliance to be considered when planning your office fit out. This includes everything from HR and staff contract requirements to planning permission for the fit out of your new office. Any non-compliance could expose your company to fines or legal action. Health & safety or planning permission infractions may also invalidate your insurance.


To avoid this, you should always check the differences in compliance regulations between your current and new office locations. This is still relevant even if you are not going far. Many London boroughs have slightly different planning permission requirements, for example. We also recommend you work with an experienced and qualified design & build company that can ensure your new space is compliant.


Managing your Office Relocation

An office relocation is an exciting project. It’s an opportunity to revitalise the image and performance of your company. However, moving office is also a complex, expensive project with several key areas of risk. A failed office relocation could have disastrous consequences for your company.


To avoid this, it's crucial you plan your move carefully and work with qualified and experienced office relocation experts. They will be able to help you avoid common mistakes and maximise the opportunity that your office move provides.


To learn more about preparing for your office move, download our ultimate office relocation guide. You’ll get one comprehensive guide that will help you understand everything that goes into an office fit out, what it costs, and how long it will take. It includes office relocation costs, a start-to-finish checklist, approximate timeframes, and helpful explanations and breakdowns. Download it here.


If you want to find out more about the potential pitfalls of moving office, read 7 underestimated office relocation problems. You’ll discover the 7 factors behind most problematic and/or failed office relocation projects and how you can avoid them derailing your upcoming office move.

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