As businesses grow, making the move to a bigger office might seem like an obvious choice. The lack of space and ever-increasing staff members can make this decision for you. But it’s easy to get swept away in the excitement of company expansion and not consider the disadvantages of relocating.
The process of planning and managing the move can be time-consuming, therefore affecting overall business performance. Combining this with the cost of moving can be highly damaging to small or new establishments. Before making this leap, consider whether the current workspace is being utilised to the full capacity.
Jonathan Richardson, managing director at secure archiving specialist Russell Richardson said: “More often than not, relocating can be avoided by optimising the current office space. This saves time and money, while keeping office workers happy.”
The financial impact of relocating
Although the cost of relocating varies per company, it’s crucial to consider all the hidden charges to make sure it’s something the business can afford.
Stuart Hearn, CEO and founder of performance and management company, Clear Review, said: “Costs can easily run into the thousands or even tens of thousands. Factors to take into account include location, the future office size and market conditions.
“On top of this, you need to take into account the costs for building and contents insurance, stamp duty, advisory fees for relocation services (including legal and agency fees), office removals, solicitor costs and IT relocation. If you’re moving to a larger location, you'll also likely need to buy new furniture.”
Avoid a loss of productivity
As well as the financial cost, moving offices can disrupt productivity if done during normal working hours. Instead, the move could take place on a long bank holiday weekend so usual duties remain unaffected. But relocating can still unsettle staff.
“Open communication during this time will be important, as a move could be perceived as a real negative by employees, particularly if the move lengthens their commuting time,” Stuart added.
If the new location increases transportation costs or travel time for employees, it could cause bad morale or result in staff members resigning. Problems may also arise if staff parking is expensive, limited or too far from the office.
Declutter the office
The first port of call for making extra space in an office is to declutter. Clear desks of any mess and remove any junk taking up valuable storage space. Consider donating, selling or recycling unused furniture or old supplies. Cable tidies can keep tangled wires at bay, while connecting devices to WiFi removes the need for wires altogether.
It’s also common for offices to become crowded with heaps of paper or stacks of boxes. As well as taking up room, clutter can affect organisation and productivity.
Stuart said: “It’s remarkable how many documents are needlessly printed and then forgotten about. As well as being a data protection issue and an environmental concern, unneeded documents take up a lot of space.”
According to research, on average, 60-80% of office waste is paper.
“Organising loose paper or files should begin with identifying what can be shredded. Many companies keep documents for longer than is legally required, which can take up a lot of space. But there are certain files that need to be stored for a long amount of time,” Jonathan Richardson added.
By law, expense accounts must be kept for six years. Public limited companies must also store accounting and tax documents for six years. It’s recommended to store HMRC approval documents permanently.
Businesses can store digital versions in ‘the cloud’ to save space. But to avoid any cyber-attacks, companies will need:
- anti-virus software
- secure settings for devices
- to keep software and devices up-to-date.
- to keep the files compatible with current devices
- to give staff handling the online files proper data security training
If businesses don’t have the budget or time to implement the necessary online protection for important documents, they can alternatively hire an off-site archiving company.
Jonathan Richardson said: “Businesses can be assured their files will be constantly monitored by CCTV in a storage facility. For further security, access is restricted to security-checked staff only. Any documents that staff move or retrieve will be recorded by a scanning system.
“Storing documents in an archiving facility eliminates any risk of documents being misplaced or accidentally damaged. As the temperature and humidity of the premises are monitored, it also prevents document deterioration.”
Are any areas currently underused?
Businesses may benefit from shuffling furniture around and rethinking the functionality of the current office design.
Many offices have large meeting rooms that aren’t regularly used, or are only occupied by a small number of people for a short amount of time. It has previously been reported that only 19% of meeting room capacity is used on average. To provide extra space, businesses could:
- downsize the meeting room
- convert the allocated space into a multi-functional room
- use open areas of the office instead of a dedicated room
- use nearby cafes for meetings to completely free up the area
Research shows that hot-desking, where staff members aren’t assigned a desk and instead use whichever desk is available, can cut the costs of running an office by up to 30%.
This avoids desks being vacant on certain days if staff members work part-time, are on holiday or off sick. This can minimise the number of desks used, or make space for new staff members. However, this doesn’t necessarily work for all environments or all employees. Before implementing this change, set out a thorough plan and consider how this will impact morale. Alternatively, office desks can be reduced in size or replaced by multi-worker tables.
Stuart said: “Companies can use folding or stackable furniture, such as tables and chairs that can be used when needed and then put away when they aren’t. This is useful for temporary employees and employees who work remotely part-time. Companies can also save space by using standing tables.”
Storage solutions for items that employees require regular access to might be unsuitable. Consider archiving some files, reducing the size of storage, or installing wall units to create more space on desks and the floor.
Unless it's certain a relocation would benefit a company's future, utilising current office space can help save time and money to reinvest in the business.