Relocating can both exciting and stress-inducing. It’s an essential part of a growing business’s journey but is also, undeniably, a hassle you’d rather not have to deal with. To make the process easier, here are eight things to think – and rethink – before you make that move.
1. Rethink: A central location is always better
Location is one of the most basic things to consider when it comes to looking for new office space. It matters in terms of ease of access and the quality of local amenities. These are the questions you should be asking yourself: can clients and staff get there easily? Are there some nice shops and cafés where your hardworking employees can grab lunch? If you’re an accountancy firm, is it really necessary to have an office bang in the middle of Soho when you could find something less central but cheaper? Central does not always mean better.
2. Think: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer
Ever wonder why similar shops end up squashed together on the same street? It's always beneficial to be close to those that can help and those who are your competitors. In Workspace buildings, 12 per cent of purchases and 17 per cent of customers’ sales come from other businesses based within the same centre.
As Cathie Sellars, head of marketing at Workspace, puts it: 'Your office should provide a visible local presence and a positive marketing opportunity – after all, if no one knows you exist, you’ll find it difficult to source local customers.'
3. Rethink: Your office has to be swanky
Of course it’s nice to have a beautiful office, but you need to think about WHY. If it’s for receiving clients, then you can always go for a less swanky office but make sure the meeting rooms are up to scratch. However, if you’re concerned about staff wellbeing, then a nice office can really make a difference. Look out for balconies, views, in-house restaurants, modern design and exposed brickwork.
4. Think: It’s not about now, it’s about the future
'Room for five desks' might be on your office checklist, but what about in a year’s time, when your team may have expanded? Think about your growing professional family when choosing your next home. That doesn’t mean you have to have empty desks while waiting for your next record-breaking salesman or OCD office manager.
Choose an office where it’s easy for you to move to a bigger space and you won’t have the trouble of working out telecommunications, disabled access, fire exits and cabling while managing that all-important move.
5. Rethink: Serviced offices have less charm
You might think that managed offices have more charm. As they’re often located in spaces not adapted for business, they usually don’t have that soulless, identikit feel of some office blocks, which might as well have come straight out of Orwell's 1984. But if you’re after serviced offices with furniture, reception facilities and telephone and data packages, you don’t have to trade charm for efficiency.
Many serviced offices are now in converted factories that formerly made light bulbs, pills, medical kit or metal boxes, so you can have the history and the modern facilities.
6. Think: Find those hidden charges
It’s vital that you have public liability insurance, covering customers and the public in the event of injury on your premises. It’s also time to think about professional indemnity insurance (covering liability for self-employed staff and freelancers), as well as buildings insurance and contents insurance. These could be covered in your lease or tenancy agreement so make sure you check. And of course, ask about service charges, security retainers and deposits, and charges to cover local council services such as business rates.
7. Rethink: Standard technology is the way to go
Many serviced offices have their own providers who are itching to provide telephony and data packages to new clients. Don’t be lazy, have a look! They might be offering better deals with better service than your current provider. Also, it might be time to rethink the classic telephone. You could save lots of money with VoIP services, which allow you to make telephone calls over the internet. Technology is also important in terms of keeping utilities down: if your office is well insulated, then that will keep your heating rates low.
As Workspace's Cathie Sellars says: 'Insulation can reduce heat loss by 40 per cent, reducing your heating bills massively, while energy-saving lightbulbs can save you up to £50 over the life of a bulb. Double-glazing can also reduce heat loss, while a steady supply of natural light will reduce lighting requirements too.'
8. Think: What are your individual business needs?
Who said moving into an office meant you had to fit your working day into the nine-to-five? Whether you are a digital agency, PR firm, accountancy firm or a blossoming startup, you may want to work whenever the urge takes you. Make sure your office has 24-hour access. And, with that, make sure that security is up to scratch, whether that means ever-present janitors or fearsome firewalls. Lucia, centre manager at Pill Box in Bethnal Green, advises looking out for 'out of hours access, CCTV surveillance or manned personnel'.
Now, all that’s left to do is to ask about the move-in date!
Check out Cathie Sellars' blog on moving into your perfect first office at The Startup Magazine.