Best Practices For An Office Relocation

27th January 2016

Angela Seed is the General Manager within the UK office of the New York Times (NYT).

She has worked for the organisation the past eight years, and last April she handled the relocation of their office space on New Oxford Street to new offices on Museum Street, WC1A.

With a previous nineteen years under her belt as the Facilities and Administration Manager at publishing group Random House – whose offices also went through a refurbishment and relocation process in her time there – she is well versed in best practises fon office relocation and fit-out process.

We met with Angela recently to get an insight into considerations and her learnings for managing a successful design, fit-out and relocation project.

Angela, what’s the biggest consideration for HR and Facilities teams when relocating a business?

Finding a suitable property within the remit of finance. You’ve got to budget and not let costs spiral out of control. You also need to consider all the facilities aspects of your move, so looking at IT and Fit out infrastructure.

If you’re looking at properties, do you need something where the infrastructure is in situ?

Remember, especially with older buildings; you may need new cabling to keep up with the technological advancements of your business, which is what we had to do in this building. Also, Lighting and Heating probably need updating too.

This can add an additional cost, so keep a note of the facilities you require.

Be adaptable and be able to compromise on your initial blueprint and space remit.

We also had a remit of occupying one floor but the properties we saw didn’t meet with our requirements in many ways, or we didn’t like the area or the style of the building.  Therefore, when we found this building, although it was across three floors, it meant we had to split up the departments onto separate floors.   The split was actually quite easy to achieve – with the Newsroom on the first, Conferences and Marketing together on another floor and Advertising and Management on the 3rd floor.

In the end, you may have to compromise on the elements and space.

How should the future business model be taken into consideration during a relocation of fit-out project? If for example, the business has forecast that more staff will be working more flexibly in the future?

Depending on the work culture (media based organisations tend to be more flexible than corporate environments, for example) introducing flexible hours can be an incentive if it works within the business model.

If people have further to travel and have to relocate then perhaps consider more flexible working to ensure you retain staff and they receive more work-life balance after a relocation project.

Understand the direction that your organisation is heading in and find a space that takes into consideration that in years’ to come a percentage of your staff could be hot desking.

This can impact on the type of property you occupy in the future.

Some employees work from home occasionally, so for us it’s flexible, we have found that our staff benefit with both options – office and home it’s a balance of both.

How have advancements in technology impacted a fit-out or relocation over the last few years?

It’s made it much easier for us in terms of the space we now have.

During our fit-out, we had to raise the floor and lower the ceiling slightly because of the engineering of the air conditioning and under-floor cabling.

Taking account of technology advancements we installed under floor cabling, allowing us to design a better layout. It’s also tidier and hidden away as opposed to wall trunking or cables along skirting as in our previous offices, and provides faster access.

Under the floor, cabling allows for a cleaner and safer environment, and of course, new desking systems have cable trays, which means that technology and modern desking can be space saving.

How have soaring costs of London office space made an impact on businesses over the years?

We did look outside of inner London however our advertising team have relationships with their clients who are based in central London and they need to be able to meet them regularly.

South London commercial property is currently cheaper. The new Crossrail and Crossrail 2 will be a consideration for the future linking of Surrey and London.

Take into consideration any additional employee travelling expenses when they are meeting clients VS how much cheaper it is to stay in central London or a major city.

Do you have any best practise examples or learnings on any projects that you can share with us?

Again based on experience, it’s the issue of cabling. It might be the costlier option initially but installing under floor cabling and not having it on small runs or overhead.

We had options of cabling overhead or under the floor, but in the end, my advice to go with the underfloor cabling was space saving and ultimately in the long run cost effective. It’s tidier and less likely to get damaged. It’s also atheistically pleasing within the overall design.

Finally, look at the workspace available. Is it adaptable?

In our new building, we had mixed toilets on all floors.  I canvassed staff and realised that our female staff were not going to accept this, they require more privacy.  So, we made the decision to reallocate and split the toilets on the different floors rather than insist they use unisex toilets.

*Keep a look out for part 2 of our interview with Angela where we discuss employee wellbeing and HR policies during a relocation process. 

You can speak with Rapport on; 01252 712590 or email us for advice on utilising your current space, an office move,  design or fit-out at; info@rapport-solutions.org.uk

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