Office Move Checklist: before you plan an office move or fit-out, read this.

In a business climate of competition, talent shortage and disruption, employee-centric businesses are searching for a competitive advantage from every possible angle. Accordingly, workspace designers are drawing on wisdom from every aspect of workplace anthropology: from psychologists and wellbeing experts to consultants in community and collaboration. The results bear fruit in the form of increased productivity, more effective recruitment and better employee engagement and retention.

So, when the idea to renovate or relocate your workspace crops up, it should be an opportunity to gain an advantage, not just an expensive task. But what are the first steps? What do you do before the strategising; before the financial forecasts, and definitely before picking out furniture and fittings?

Start with why

Why are you doing this? Putting lease, buy and build projects aside, and assuming you’ve decided whether to relocate or refurbish, what do you want from the new workspace? Does it need to be bigger, more flexible, or just a better fit for purpose?

Explore all the key components of a successful office move in our ebook. 

How important is your workspace to attract and retain staff? Should the new space enhance creativity, encourage collaboration and build a sense of community? What about employee wellbeing and the environment of our planet? Is that important? And, really, how much should the physical changes improve performance, productivity and the bottom line?

Without answering these first questions you may fall into one of the five common pitfalls of an office move. Relocation and renovation projects are huge investments in your business, but you’ll only get a good return if you know why you're doing it and what you want to get out of it. Only then can you know how you are going to get there.

According to the stats, most offices perform abysmally when it comes to wellbeing, recruitment and productivity.

Attract, retain, engage (or not)

More than half of UK workers (53%) would turn down a job if they didn’t like the office space, according to a survey by Furniture123.co.uk. Around a third, it says, would be deterred from taking the job by broken or outdated furniture (32%), a lack of natural light (38%) and outdated décor (41%).

Of those in employment, one third are just not happy with their workspace, according to the Steelcase Global Report, which adds that “employee engagement correlates with workplace satisfaction.” Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report finds that 85% of staff worldwide are “not engaged or actively disengaged.”

Productive and well?

Diversity and inclusion are intrinsically tied to engagement, brand identity and performance, says 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends. Meanwhile, The Stoddart Review, The Workplace Advantage says an “effective workplace” can improve business productivity by as much as 12%, and that businesses should perceive it as a “performance lever.” 

Sadly, it says, only just over half (53%) say their workplace helps them to be productive. 

Globally, nearly half of office employees have no natural light in their working environment, and almost two out of three (58%) have no live plants in their workspace, according to The Human Spaces report into The Global Impact of Biophilic Design. Human Spaces finds that employees in offices with natural elements, like light and plants, were 6% more productive, 15% more creative and reported a 15% increase in wellbeing.

Flexible and community-focused

Three quarters of UK employees work in organisations that provide some kind of flexible working (the most common being home working and flexitime), according to The Flex Factor report. 

Only three out of five employees (58%) think their workplace contributes to a sense of community at work, says the Leesman Review

Looking at workspace design trends, there’s so much on offer that can improve all these metrics, you just need to decide which ones to choose.

Among the Top Office Trends For 2018 are agile workspaces and zones for flexible working, collaboration and privacy. This links naturally with wellbeing, employee experience and biophilic design. The lines between work, home and play are increasingly becoming blurred, with the rise of resimercial and community design alongside showers, bike racks, bars, cafes. All of this supports the rise of the remote workforce and the gig economy: the increase in freelancers, flexible working, hot-desking and co-working spaces.

The final word on agile

The agile workspace is the third major trend in the history of offices – it follows open plan and cubicle layouts. The concept was initiated by tech startups — in fact, it comes from agile working methodologies developed by software developers. It’s the most simple and effective approach to designing a workspace these days, mainly because it caters for everyone and the rapidly changing times we live in. But also because of its roots:  many tech start-ups launched businesses from garages.

If you’re looking at moving to new premises or fitting out your existing workspace (or moving offices then refurbishing the new space), you can really pick and choose what you want with an agile design. And the benefits of transforming to an agile workspace include a reduction in real estate portfolios, running costs, absenteeism and attrition; alongside improvements in business productivity and overall agility. 

But how you plan your refurbishment all comes back to the answers to that first question: why are you doing this?

Top tips for pre-planning a workspace fit-out:

Consult + comms = buy-in

Consult everyone who’ll use the space, and communicate well, seeking suggesting and feedback — that way you’ll get buy-in early on.

Not just desks

Think about what spaces your people will need to occupy for eating, relaxing, socialising, meeting and brainstorming. How can you enhance all of these things? 

Enough space

Yes, think about workforce growth in 5-7 years, but don't panic as you can reduce the desk-peopleratio (taking into account the flexible working trends).

Consider zones

You need zones for privacy and focus; learning and meetings; collaboration and idea sharing; socialising and community-building.

Brand new

A new space is your chance to make those brand changes. Think about how colours, furniture and layout relates to your brand personality, values and vision. 

Connect people to planet

Beyond the realm of green credentials, connect your people with the natural world through biophilic design. 

Making the right changes to your work environment is crucial for wellbeing, diversity and inclusivity. They’re a must for performance, productivity and growth. Your brand and culture are also on show here, so these changes impact how you recruit, retain and engage, too.

We know, it’s a lot to take in. If you're interested in finding out more about the pros and cons of moving office space, download our free The Ultimate Office Move, a step-by-step handbook & checklist.

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