In 2017, we moved to a new building. We’d like to use our transition as an example in breaking down our experience with project management & office moves. Our hope is that, by reading this, you can avoid learning some of these lessons the hard way. In this installment of the blog series, we’re going to outline how to go about selecting a site for your new office space: how to build a list of properties, what to pay attention to in your lease, and pitfalls to avoid.
What You Need to Begin Looking
If you’re looking for a new space, we’ll assume that you have established a reason to relocate, support from executives, and a killer move team. Making sure all the key decision-makers are involved, develop criteria for the new space by which to rate prospective properties. Requirements for the new space based on quantifiable data will undeniably drive the final decision, but there are a few less-than-tangible attentions that must be paid:
How Will A New Space Reflect Your Mission?
It’s vital to consider how the appearance of your workspace aligns with the brand image you’re trying to cultivate. Ask yourself some important questions at the outset when looking for a new office space. Who are you serving? What are you trying to broadcast? Where are you headed?
Have You Considered All Perspectives?
It’s easy to think about things as you see them – and sometimes, even at a bird’s-eye view. But, what about the other sets of shoes entering your workplace? Take a step back to think about all the interactions that will occur with your new environment. How will your customers’ experience be affected? How will your employees’ routines change? If you were your landlord, are there corners to be cut? If you were your neighbors, are there inconveniences associated with you in that space?
Building An Exhaustive List
It’s helpful to get a wholesome perspective of the pricing and offering mix when it comes to commercial real estate. Whatever method you choose to canvass desired geographies, methodically comb through and record prospective locations’ & pertinent information.
Separating Wheat from Chaff
Using the criteria established by your key decision makers, rate the properties on your list from most to least closely-aligned with the organization’s requirements. Prune the selection to the top two or three and engage with the representative for the property to continue gathering information.
Reconciling the Office Space
For the properties that still meet your criteria (assuming you haven’t found one that’s a 100% fit), consider what could be done to the space to close the gap between what’s there and what’s required. From construction to space planning, it’s important to remember that it’s at least possible to bend a workspace to your will.
In the case of moving offices here at Office Furniture Works, reconciling the prospective space from first impressions was crucial to garnering everyone’s buy-in. Outfitting what was previously a manufacturing facility for use as showroom and office space has been no small feat, and it’s less than feasible to have everyone involved in all steps of a relocation while maintaining normal business operations. Navigating the hectic process while staying afloat was contingent on our conceptual understanding of what the space would be.
Request for Proposal
It’s time to make sure ALL of your needs, concerns, considerations and abstract thoughts about the prospective office space are addressed. Find a list of components to include by getting our white paper below! Submit an RFP to each landlord, making sure to communicate your availability. Organize and compare the collected responses to see which property comes out on top of your short list.
Pulling the Trigger
Validate all the facts from the RFP responses. Ensure your entire move team and key decision-makers have visited each space, evaluated the requirements and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each property. One of the most important jobs in commercial relocation is to facilitate an inclusive deliberation session for reaching a final decision. GOOD LUCK!
Deadly Mistakes to Avoid
- Making Assumptions: inferring success at your new location from business success in general is a mistake. Base your decisions on quantifiable data whenever possible while considering your visibility, market and prospective growth
- Dubious Diligence: when you’ve only asked for half the story, it’s hard to justify disappointment when you find the rest of it. Prepare a list of specific questions for the landlord, do all the research you can, and get bogged down in the details of your prospective new environment. Do you really want a rude receptionist receiving your clients for the foreseeable future
- Keeping Casual: be all business. While we like to think that people are generally well-intentioned, landlords fundamentally exist on profiting from real estate. Have a lawyer comb the lease agreement, don’t be immediately enticed by offers of “free rent” up front, and constantly evaluate your position to make sure you don’t lose an edge in negotiation.