Thinking of moving office?
Agencies share their experiences and advice on moving offices.
If you are considering moving office what are the first things to consider? Is there a particular order in which things should be done? What are the pitfalls? Why move?
“Firstly and most obviously it’s a new start,” says Osborne Pike MD, Steve Osborne. “Agencies can use it as the trigger for a mini- or full-on relaunch of the business if that’s what you feel you need. Even if you don’t say anything to the outside world it can’t help but feel like a new beginning: everyone gets to work via a different route, and goes to new places for lunch, after work, and for inspiration.”
Osborne Pike are based in the beautiful city of Bath, with its thriving creative community. Their move has not only been a positive and re-energising experience for the business, it has taken them next door to their long-term partner agency as well. “This has obvious benefits for our increasingly deep collaboration on innovation and structural design projects,” says Steve.
For Clinic, who were based in London’s Farringdon for over 15 years, MD Dave Lewis says that for creative agencies “The phrase ‘A change is as good as a rest’ is particularly relevant,” adding that “moving to Soho was an excellent opportunity to shake up our habits – good and bad”.
The first thing to ask yourself is how will moving affect the running of your business?
You also need to consider your staff – after all this impacts them too. Staff can be surprisingly adaptable and the benefits of working in a successful business outweigh the exact location. Clinic’s team have benefited from “New energy, new stimulus, and better shopping!” says Dave.
Consider very carefully if you need to tell your staff before a deal is done, because there will be questions from them that you cannot yet answer which might create unrest. And don’t underestimate how much space you’ll need. Cramming people in can be a real disincentive.
“We took the opportunity to list all the things that were not working well in the old space, and made sure that we designed the new space to improve these. This led to a new desk layout and a major expansion of our ‘magnetic wall’ spaces for speeding up and enriching review meetings,” says Steve Osborne.
You might consider an alternative office set-up. After nine years in their own leased studio, London agency BEAR has recently moved to Interchange Atrium in the heart of Stables Market, Camden.
“Moving to a co-working building, with a flexible, rolling contract has liberated us and given us flexibility to grow organically, without the pressure of a long-term lease” says their MD Francesca Abbott. “It’s freed us up from managing our studio, too. We’ve all been re-energised by the move, and as a business it’s made us leaner, allowing us to invest more back into BEAR, and ultimately, to grow.”
And the positives have spanned into new business for the agency too: “Socially, being amongst different businesses and people has been great. We’ve even collaborated with our neighbours and a few have become clients.”
Striking a deal - top tips
- When the first offer from the landlord comes in, don’t think it’s their final one.
- Don’t shortcut going through any lease in detail. Get professional advice. Make sure you pin down exactly who pays for what between tenant and landlord.
- Regardless of how the business is feeling, make sure your break periods aren’t too far in the future and any penalty for breaking is reasonable (3 months).
- Ensure you take into account all the costs, including a healthy contingency if refitting the office.
- Can you afford the refit? Set a budget. It doesn’t have to be expensive – it just has to look great. Good designers can do great things on a budget.
- If a major fit out is required the landlord should contribute to a significant part of the cost (the landlord fit) and potentially give you a rent-free period to help you pay for your own fit out.
“Take enough time to refurbish the space and to plumb in the internet, services and servers before you move, so you know you can work productively from Day 1. As part of this, check that BT really mean it when they say Superfast Broadband is available at your new address! We have it now, but not without a lot of time exploring all kinds of ‘fairly fast’ Heath-Robinson alternatives,” offers Steve Osborne.
Once the deal is done
- As soon as a deal is done engage your staff and see how you can get them to buy into / help design the new office.
- Consider using an outside property management company for all things maintenance. DIY can work but it takes your eye off the ball from your core business.
- Employ professionals to project manage / deal with contractors, or they could have you over a barrel of confusion.
- Make sure you do a thorough handover and review before any warranty period elapses.
And when it comes to packing up, what’s moving with you and what isn’t?
“Have a long hard think about your archiving and only take the work samples that really count,” says Clinic’s Dave Lewis “throwing it all out may be a better idea – but never throw out your books”.
And when you’re ceiling high in boxes and it feels like hard work, remember the end game: “Change is good” says BEAR’s Francesca, “do it!”