Moving to a new office space – especially into your own first workspace after outgrowing your home office or coworking space – in a major milestone. This time is usually filled with anticipation, excitement, and also perhaps anxiety. You need to make countless decisions, while a world of opportunity lies ahead of you: opportunity to build a home, a hub or a palace for your business and your team – whichever picture strikes a chord with you.
With experience you’ll start to make better and better decisions about your space. Some of the best workspaces I see are set up by switched-on business owners (often with surprisingly little professional help) who have learnt over numerous office relocations and upgrades what sort of environment brings the best out in their teams.
While there’s merit in experimenting, you can fast-track this process, and after doing a bit of homework you should be able to handle your first office relocation as if you have already done it many times. And even if it’s not your first time, you might still find some of the missing pieces among the suggestions below.
Before moving into your next (or perhaps first) premises, here are the most important things you need to know:
Start preparing for your office move well before your intended move date. Ideally, you should allow at least 6 months for the preparations – for deciding about what sort of workspace you need, finding the right tenancy, designing and constructing the fitout, purchasing furniture, and organising the move.
To create a work environment that will support your people’s best work and the growth of your business, you first need to think through: What technology do/will you use? What activities will your team members need to do, and how often? What’s your brand like? What sort of culture are you building? How do you want your staff and visitors to feel when walking in? What future changes do you anticipate in your business?
Ask your staff (and perhaps also your customers): What would you like the office to look like? How should it be different from the current space? How do you want to work? Consider their input in decision making, and let them make some of the choices. This will not only improve their satisfaction with the new space, but could substantially increase productivity.
By the time you start looking for your new premises you should have a clear idea of what qualities to look for. Location, floor size and rental expenses are key factors, but there are also other things to look for …
Does the space have the right style and ambience? Does it give a positive first impression? Is it pleasant to be in? Does it have sufficient daylight? Does it feel like a home for your business and your work community? Is the space able to accommodate all the rooms you need? Is the space in good condition? Does it need renovation or major alterations? Is the ventilation / air-conditioning system up to standard?
Make sure the tenancy is large enough to accommodate the growth you are projecting for the period of the lease term. You may choose an office tenancy that you can expand, or sublet the part of the space which is initially unused.
3. OFFICE DESIGN
Bring your company’s personality into the creation of your new workspace. Show who you are, what you care about, and what your goals and dreams are. Create a space which inspires you, and where your team members and clients are happy to go.
Be careful about copying features of other offices. Think through why the office spaces you like are designed the way they are. Don’t create a ‘theme park’ just because Google does so – while Google’s office space works very well for them, it’s not for everyone. Develop your space with purpose, in congruence with your company’s brand, culture and work style.
The most common complaints in open offices are noise and the lack of privacy. Do whatever you can to prevent or minimise these issues. Chose a tenancy that will allow you to set up a diversified work environment, where people can move away from noise and find privacy.
It takes time and experience to work out what your ideal workplace is like; don’t expect to make it perfect from the start. Test your office design, and change it as needed. Make your office fitout highly flexible; use furniture and partitions that are easy to move around. Don’t worry if your workplace doesn’t look fully finished; unfinished spaces tend to be more authentic, and are actually more supportive of creativity and innovation.
Think of your workspace as an investment. The expenses associated with the office accommodation – building works, furniture, lease – will be substantial, but what you’ll get in return is more than just premises for your business to operate from.
The workspace has a huge impact on your organisation’s bottom line: it can reduce costs and increase profit. A good workspace is an essential support for all aspects of work performance, including productivity, engagement, collaboration and innovation. (A high-performance environment typically increases productivity by over 10%, and often by a much higher margin!)
Keep in mind that your team is worth much more than the space – they are the ones who make your business a success, and the salaries you pay are many times higher than what you pay for your office space. Never compromise on your people’s productivity and engagement. Creating a workspace where people can do their best work will always pay off.
Creating a great workspace doesn’t need to be expensive. Some of the greatest workplaces are built with a low budget.
Focus your money on the essentials. Some things are worth spending good money on, such as good quality chairs and work equipment, and premises with good quality air and daylight, and with good acoustics.
Spend on the ‘nice to have’ items later. In the meantime, there are many ways you can make your office space stylish and vibrant at low cost – using colours, wall murals, posters, etc. You may encourage your team members to help decorate your new space, and bring in objects that will make the space feel more homey.
Get expert help with office lease negotiations and with space design. Following professional guidance will help you make better decisions, find better deals, and spend your budget better. You will be far more likely to end up with an office environment that will give you tangible positive results year after year. There’s simply no point spending your money on an office space that doesn’t work for you.
We’re living at a time when – once you meet safety and health regulations – a workspace can be pretty much whatever you want it to be. Make sure that the experts you engage are on your wavelength and share your vision for your new space.