Picking the A-team for your office move or fit-out

In the fourth blog in our office fit-out series, here’s a rundown of who you need on your office relocation or renovation project team. 

Your office move or fit-out A-team should be made up of internal organisers and external partners, but led by someone with serious project management skills and experience. If your organisation gets this appointment wrong, it could spell disaster for the project. According to research by the International Facility Management Association, two out of three office relocation project leaders leave the business within six months of the move — they either quit or they're fired. To help you retain your project manager after the move or refurbishment, here’s what you need to know. 

Project leader

This isn’t a job for the CEO or COO, as they’re heading up the whole business. Nor is this a job description, but it may help you find the right person. They will need:

  • Enough time to devote to this as it may be a full-time job depending on the scale of your project
  • Autonomy to make decisions (or vested powers to do so) on behalf of the organisation, to avoid bottlenecks higher up
  • Experience of managing big projects, budgets and timescales
  • Excellence in organising people and processes
  • Cool-headed under stress (there will be a lot of pressure from day one)
  • Impeccable communication and personal skills
  • An understanding of each department and every aspect of the business

To manage your project lead, you’ll both need a clear-cut definition of their limitations – for example, when they need to go to senior board level for a decision. You’ll also need regular communications, reports and updates.

The internal team

That’s the project leader. Now they need support from an internal ‘team. It’s likely the project lead will need involvement from departments across the entire business; the level of their involvement will depend on the demands of the project.

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

Regardless, here are the departments you’ll need to be involved:

  • Facilities (for the inside workings of the building, as they’ll tell you what's wrong with how the current office works)
  • Finance (for budgets, forecasts and KPIs)
  • HR (for consulting and communicating with staff and related legal compliance)
  • IT (for moving systems, investing in new ones and future-proofing the business)
  • Marketing (for translating and visualising your brand identity into interiors, and marketing post-fit-out)
  • PAs and office managers (for communicating with senior leaders...plus they seem to know everything about the office and the senior executives).

The external team

Once you’ve appointed the project lead and internal team, one of their jobs will be to select external contractors, suppliers and other partners.

These include professional services organisations (like tax accountant, tenancy solicitor, insurer and, if relocating, commercial agent and conveyancer). On the practical side, it includes tradespeople for construction (like builders, carpenters, electricians) and utilities (plumbers, electricians, gas engineers). A health and safety consultant needs to be in the mix somewhere, too, unless you have someone in-house. Don't forget a commercial removals company.

In our experience, every renovation project needs a relocation, and every office move needs some degree of refurbishment. So, last but not least, regardless of whether you relocate or refurbish, you will need a workspace consultant,  office design company, fit-out firm and furniture supplier.

If you pick the right interiors partner they will help you manage all the other contractors.

Finding, vetting and shortlisting a number of different contractors is a major job, and not just from a payments point of view. Every business will also have different processes and procedures to follow. Building relationships with new suppliers — for what is likely a one-off investment — can take time. There are so many variables and so many things that can go wrong, that we recommend a partner who will manage all the trades for you to take away that headache.

Once you’ve found the right project lead, team and partners (or partner), you're ready to start planning the whole project. That’s everything from finding the vision and gathering the data to tackling the compliance and nailing the budget. Just make sure you watch out for the five common pitfalls.

If you're planning an office move, why not download our free eBook  - The Ultimate Office Move Guide & Checklist -for advice on the step-by-step process, how to avoid pitfalls as well a range of workspace resources.

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