No matter how large your company, Refurbishments and relocations are one of the most significant investments your company will make. Your workplace is the central hub for your people and your output, so it’s essential to get it right the first time.
How best to prepare for these unfamiliar challenges? It’s all in the planning. Here are five steps that will help prepare for any eventuality.
1. Understanding your requirements
First of all, you’ll want to ascertain why you’re undertaking this project. What are the compelling events that have led to this decision? While a lease expiry might explain a move, there are often other signficant business-critical reasons.
The primary reasons we’ve found for refurbishments or relocations are:
Improved staff motivation and productivity
Improved internal communications and collaborations
Greater resiliency in volatile markets
Innovations in technology integration
Integration of new work styles and practices
Greater flexibility for company expansion or contraction
When relocating, closer proximity to talent pools and clients
Creates a fresh start for people, brand and company
Lower running costs and expenditure (e.g. increasing space densities)
At this stage, we’d recommend performing an initial review of how your current space is performing. A good deal can happen in a year, let alone the next five to ten you’ll be spending in the new workplace – knowing approximately what you want before involving partners further down the line will offer clarity later on.
Surveying or interviewing employees as to their needs and aspirations for a new workplace is an excellent method of understanding what could drive your business forward. By understanding your space’s strengths and weaknesses, you’re able to make relevant criteria for how your new space should perform.
Should you stay?
Is it possible to rework your current workplace? Although this is often more cost-effective, decisions will need to be made to minimise disruption. Discuss what work can be undertaken during office hours and out of hours. Remember, there is often an upcharge for evening and weekend work.
Or could you go?
Perhaps you’ve outgrown your current office due to expansion, or the building is just not suited to your requirements. This significant business change can provide a fresh start and energise your company. However, as a rule, relocations can be a lengthier and more expensive process.
Questions to ask:
Does your company have expansion plans in the next five years? If so, how many more people do you envision?
What other business changes might affect your new workplace?
What challenges or problems have you currently noticed in the workplace?
What is performing well in the current workplace?
Does your brand identity also need an update or refresh?
What potential messaging and tone do you want to relate to clients through the workplace (e.g. formal or informal, calming or energising?)
2. Choosing the right team
The management team that oversees your project will be essential to its success. Opt for the right personalities within your company from a mix of business-critical departments. From this team, you’ll need a single project ‘champion’ who will liaise with your design and build company – generally on a daily or weekly basis. Bear in mind, this is a big responsibility and can be time-intensive, especially in the planning and design phases.
What are the best characteristics for a project champion?
High levels of organisational skills
Calm and collected under pressure
Inspires a shared vision
Understands your company inside and out
Enthusiastic about business changes
Has the authority to make decisions
Ability to delegate tasks
Demonstrable leadership qualities
3. Research your options
You should have an idea of what kind of space you might require; now it’s time to be more specific.
Taking the time to research at this point will save you more further down the line. You’ll want to consider your potential budget for the project (it’s worth considering possible finance and leasing options at this point too). Your budget should include:
Agent and legal fees (if relocating)
Planning permission fees
Insurance and assessment
Design and build
Mechanical and electrical
IT, AV and telecoms
Furniture, fittings and equipment
Dilapidation and waste
Many of these costs are unlikely to be known until you’ve chosen a location or researched the market. At this stage, undertaking a workplace consultancy can give you an accurate understanding of these potential costs, tailored to your company needs and vision. For more information on consultancy, get in touch here.
4. Shortlisting your fit-out partner
Working with the right design, fit-out and move partner is essential to the success of your project. You’ll want to carefully review your needs and do your homework on potential candidates. Ask yourself ‘is this the company I want to work with for the next two to six months?
Potential requirements for your workplace
Firstly, you’ll need to ascertain the levels of work you require. Do your candidates offer:
Project management with a single point of contact
Space audits and feasibility studies
Full costs and open-book estimates
Space planning and interior design
Fit-out and construction
HVAC and electrical design
IT, AV and telecom selection and installation
Plumbing and heating design and installation
Equipment and furniture selection and installation
Planning permissions, local authority and landlord negotiation
Health and safety permissions
It’s vital to take an evidence-based approach here. Review your shortlist through their portfolio and ask for testimonials. Working alongside a single service provider on a large-scale project can be much quicker and more straightforward than managing multiple suppliers.
Selecting an experienced, approachable and agile fit-out contractor will deliver the site construction works efficiently and safely. By using a contractor with excellent design capabilities, your brief is smoothly managed from initial concept meetings, through to site surveys, construction and move-in phases.
Questions to ask:
Do they have a strong track record in your industry?
Is their evaluation and selection process open and transparent?
Are they good communicators? Do they understand your business?
Are they able to offer initial cost estimates?
If relocating, have they worked in the area your considering?
Do they have a firm grasp of the technical aspects of commercial property?
Do they have any green credentials? Have they worked on sustainable projects?
Do they have financial stability?
What is their health and safety record?
5. Building Search & Appraisal
If you’re considering relocation or wanting to make changes to your existing space, you will need to discuss these matters with your landlord. Involving them at an early stage will ensure you’re both prepared for the more substantial changes further down the line.
Landlord contributions and lease renegotiations
As an incentive to keep you in the space, your landlord may contribute to you refurbishment costs. This is an excellent method of finding a mutual investment and should be discussed at an early juncture. Using your design and build partner to demonstrate these alterations can provide a huge advantage when renegotiating your lease.
License to Alter
If you’re refurbishing, you’ll need a licence to alter. This is a formal document from your landlord that gives you the approval to carry out alterations to your leasehold property, which you need to obtain before you get started. A property agent or your design & refurbishment partner can help you create this document to ensure every element is covered.
A dilapidations clause is an article in your rental contract that describes the actions that you are expected to carry out to preserve the property. When altering the infrastructure of your space, you should review these clauses to save you costs later in the project. Your fit-out partner should be able to help with this review.
If you’re looking to relocate, enlisting the support of a commercial property agent is crucial to find the best terms and the best space for you. The same questions that you asked of your design and build partner can be asked of your agent. The critical points when considering a new area are:
What are the average rental costs in the area?
How close and reliable are local transport links?
Does the area have high-grade mobile and IT coverage?
Is it easy to reach clients and staff to reach work?
Is there a large talent pool in the local area?
Is there a vibrant ecosystem of exciting companies in the area?
What kind of local amenities are there?
Is there local parking?
While these are only the first steps to creating a successful workplace, they set out a clear path towards evaluating your needs – whether you decide to relocate or refurbish. If you’re looking for more on how long this process might take, check out our article here on potential durations, alternatively we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.