Whether you’d like to move for reasons of cost or some other motive, you can’t simply shut your old office and set up shop in a random location. Understanding the consequences of such a move can help the savvy entrepreneur take a measured approach to such a big decision.
The Global Guide to Business Relocation report from Grant Thornton reveals that the three most important aspects of “successful business relocation are early planning, clear commercial objectives and careful execution.”
Relocating a company is the second most stressful work task for businesses. As a result, more than three-quarters of organizations delay a relocation, instead opting to remain in a cramped office that does not fit the needs of the firm just to avoid the stress of the move.
Staying put can be a short-sighted strategy that may hamper your business’s ability to expand and remain competitive. So, here are five aspects worth considering before making the move:
1. What do you want to achieve?
A relocation presents a massive opportunity to improve your business. You can investigate new ways of working, overhaul your workplace culture and even reinvent your brand identity when you move to a new locale.
It’s important to identify your high-level business goals related to the move before investigating potential locations and offices. Define the kind of space you want to create and the priorities for your move. Making an office relocation checklist can be helpful in terms of meeting all of the requirements.
Then, when you’re considering your new office building and its location, comparing it to the checklist can bring a method to the madness of business relocation.
2. What’s the best location for you commercially?
The answer to this question is specific to each organization. You may need to relocate to reduce your overhead, improve your quality of life, reach new markets, attract young talent or specialized employees, as a result of an acquisition or because of a changing political landscape.
Whatever your location requirements and constraints, it helps to compare a potential new location to the wider business objectives finalized in the previous step. This requires extensive market research and the results may surprise you. For example, one study suggests that Phoenix is one of the best cities to start a new business or relocate the old one.
3. How much will it cost you?
While you may expect to make cost savings in the future, an office relocation is not a cheap option in the short term. You need to formulate a proposed budget and also allocate a contingency fund to prepare for any delays, oversights and other unexpected issues during your move.
Precisely how much it will cost to relocate depends on a variety of factors, including your current lease agreement, office size, number of staff, moving expenses, refit costs and PR expenditure when publicizing your move.
4. Do you need a dedicated project manager?
You may want to consider employing a project manager or a dedicated team to manage your budget and the move itself. This will provide your business with a specialized individual or team and a single point of contact to help smooth this transition.
A project manager can help to avoid common relocation pitfalls and can guide you through the early project planning process. Their industry knowledge should also help to avoid numerous change orders and costly mistakes that can occur when attempting to manage your relocation on your own.
When selecting an agent, ask colleagues and clients for recommendations, get testimonials from previous clients of the agent, conduct extensive online research and ensure they have a good grasp of both the commercial real estate industry and the specifics of your business.
5. How will the move affect your staff?
On paper, you may have perfected you move, but what is the human impact of your relocation? While some staff may welcome change, others may resist it.
This depends on the extent of your relocation. If you’re just moving a few blocks in the same city then you’ll might like to check some basic factors. For example, you may need to push the benefits of the new space by informing your staff that their commute won’t be adversely affected, that there’ll still be enough parking for everyone, what the local amenities are.
However, if you’re opting for a more drastic move then you might to consider relocation packages and be prepared to lose some of your best staff.
To avoid unnecessary employee losses, it’s important to engage with your staff in the preliminary stages of a relocation by keeping them informed, and allowing them to be part of the move process through workshops and/or brainstorming sessions.
There are many other ways to ease this change for your staff as your move progresses. For example, you could start holding events at your new location or introduce flexible working practices to help with the transition.
Whatever you decide, it’s important to keep the communication channels open.
Also, prioritize your HR department during this time as they will play a critical role for your staff during your relocation. The Making Corporate Moves report from Deloitte states: ‘Talent retention during the transition period can be a major challenge as employees deal with change and uncertainty, and it often falls on [HR’s] shoulders to keep employees engaged and retained through and beyond this major event.’
Relocating your business entails stress and uncertainty, but it can also be a great opportunity for your business. With a carefully executed plan and the right people in place to smooth this transition, a relocation can present your business with a wealth of opportunities to grow and evolve in the years ahead.