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2018: to move or not to move

If your lease end is looming and space is tight, moving office isn’t your only option.

Although moving office might seem like a foregone conclusion when a lease is coming to its end or you’ve outgrown your space, in many cases there is another option. What’s more, that option is a quicker and more cost effective one: reconfigure the existing space.

While it sometimes seems that an office space is at full-capacity, it’s often not the case. In this article we’ll take a look at why, and the opportunity it presents. First things first, though…

Can you extend or renew your current lease?

This is obviously a key consideration. Maybe your building has been earmarked for redevelopment, demolition or even compulsory purchase. If so, the decision is out of your hands. If not, start talking to your landlord – but only after you have gathered the following information to strengthen your negotiating hand.

  • Find out the current state of the property market. What is supply and demand like? Is it a buyer’s or seller’s market? Is the market tipped towards landlords or tenants?
  • Are you currently paying too much or have you got a good deal?
  • Is the landlord seeking higher rents? If so, they may look favourably on an early deal to extend the lease.

Even better than gathering this information yourself, ask a property agent to act for you. They will usually do so free of charge, and can negotiate with the landlord on your behalf.

Assess your current workspace

Think carefully about your current office. In what ways does it do what you need it to, and where does it fail? Think about the actual physical space you have. Do the physical features, layout and look of the building suit you? Is it popular with staff, or do they have gripes? Is it laid out well or a bit of rabbit warren? Is the atmosphere positive or a bit dead?

Measure the actual square footage and relate that to the growth and staffing plans for the business. This is key information for a space planning exercise (more on this later), as it will steer what is realistic and physically possible.

You should also test your space by ranking things like location, transport links and amenities. Invest a bit of time on this; make a list of the pros and cons of your existing office space and location and give it marks out of ten. Chances are the cons you’ve written down are not deal-breakers and your current location scores pretty well.

The economics of space planning

Space planning provides an enlightening insight into the dynamics of workflow and activities taking place, and the space required for those. For anyone whose lease is running out, it offers a win/win situation. A professional space planner will establish whether your current space could be reconfigured to meet your current and future requirements, or tell you how much space you really need – often much less than you originally thought – if you do have to move.

Refurbishment of current office Relocation to new office
Property search and agents fees
Legal and advisory costs
Lease down payment
Office fitout / refurbishment
Marketing costs and new stationery
Disruption to staff

The cost of relocating to a new office is going to be much higher than the cost of refurbishing your current site – sometimes, even double.

The space planner’s art: optimising office space

If you’ve grown into your existing space, it’s unlikely to be an optimised space. Optimising office space means investigating how your office works from different perspectives and joining up the findings. The sorts of things a space planner will look at are:

  • Occupancy analysis: who is in the office, on what days, and for how long? And how much time do they spend actually at their desks?
  • Time and space studies: who interacts with whom, both as individuals and departments? Could changing the location and proximity of individuals and furniture improve the use of the space?
  • Space planning: re-imagining the space, its layout and furniture, so that the return on every square foot is maximized

Every case is different and space planners find under-utilised space in all sorts of places. Meeting rooms are often too big, under-used (maybe a large boardroom that only gets fully occupied once a quarter), or there are simply too many of them. By combining a smart blend of IT flexibility, folding walls, and modular furniture, an under-used space can become multi-functional, adapting to different uses at different times.

Day-to-day occupancy levels are all too often overlooked, with desks and meeting room provision based on permanent full occupancy. In reality, typical occupancy is more likely to be around 50% or 60% on any given day. And the legacy of bulky monitors and excessive cabling lives on in some offices, with oversized desks and inefficient configurations.

Storage and filing systems often present opportunities to liberate space too. An empty cabinet is a waste, but full ones often contain items that could be archived and stored off site.

Do we have to move? That is the question!

You may need a new office, but in many cases you can save time and money by staying put and changing the office around you – even while your people continue to work as normal.

Optimised spaces deliver greater ROI not only by making sure that you’re not paying for more space than you need, but also because they engage and energise your staff, encouraging collaboration, and boosting efficiency and productivity.

Like a professional assessment of your space? For a quick informal chat about what’s involved contact our design team on 01444 231333.

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