Movin’ On Up: When to upgrade your office

Future of Work
Movin’ On Up: When to upgrade your office

Another year has come and (almost) gone. Your Q4 results are beginning to roll in and it’s time to start making some serious decisions for the next year, including where you should be making those day-to-day decisions. Now more than ever, offices are expected to serve multiple purposes: they’re a space for work, meetings, pitches and team collaboration. Because there are so many considerations to make—when to move, what to budget for, how to make the transition seamless—we’ve developed this workspace planning guide. Read on for our best advice on how to plan your next office move. 

To move or not to move

Before you start scanning the real estate listings, you need to stop and think about why you want to move—and what you need most from a new office:

How much space do you need? If you have difficulty finding desk space for new hires or constantly double-book meeting rooms, it may be time to increase your square footage. But first, visualize your occupancy: how will your existing team function in the space? How much growth do you expect to see within the next year? What “extras” (e.g. meeting rooms, private phone booths, nap pods) do you want? Once you’ve answered these questions, examine your budget (more on this below) to decide what’s feasible.

Where do you need to work? Aside from making space for employees, a company’s offices often need to accommodate investors, clients and potential partners. Moving closer to key stakeholders may save money in the long run (a number of companies are conveniently located in the same neighborhood as the CEO’s home). Is a the landlord increasing your rent because the neighborhood is being redeveloped? Perhaps it’s time to negotiate with a new landlord or move to a different area altogether, acts that could save you money over the next three, five or even 10 years.

Three years sound too long? We hear you. One of the most important things for a growing company (or any company for that matter) is the ability to stay agile. Being stuck with a space that doesn’t meet evolving needs can be damaging to a company’s growth. Our offices  scale up or down depending on needs and can booked in minutes with turnaround times of 48 hours.

What are the alternatives? Hot desking and other flexible arrangements have the potential to extend the life of your current office and may even allow for downsizing—they help to optimize the use of a small space and prevent offices from feeling stale. Flexibility is key to making your existing space work. A quick refresh—even something as simple as a fresh coat of paint or new layout—may be enough to revitalize your office.

“So often a simple design refresh is all that a company really needs—they think they’ve outgrown a space, but they’re just not using it to its full potential. A fresh coat of paint, new smart storage solutions, and a flexible desk layout can work wonders,” says Sophie Fidler, one of Breather’s in-house Interior Designers.

Is it worth it? (Let me work it!)

Okay, you’ve made up your mind. The old space just ain’t doing it and you’ve found your dream office. But you need to ask yourself some questions before signing the paperwork:

Do you have enough money? Searching for budget tips online will yield a ton of useless results: “Get the most for the least money,” “spend as close to zero as possible,” “find a balance between cost and functionality.” This doesn’t address the dozens, if not hundreds, of factors involved in buying or leasing a new office, so here are a few real considerations to keep top of mind:

  • How does your revenue and gross income compare to the cost of the space?
  • Does your monthly revenue fluctuate? If December’s your busiest season, you should make sure the boom can cover rent through slower times.
  • What are your upfront costs? (Furniture? Technology? Coffee machines? Moving trucks?)
  • What are your monthly costs? The price of utilities, internet, cleaning services and repairs can change drastically in a new space.
  • What growth do you project for the next three years? It’s important to forecast how many new bodies are required to meet revenue targets so you can plan your workspace accordingly.

“The most common things we see companies forget to budget for in an office upgrade are acoustic solutions, space for the whole company to get together, and something as simple as personal storage furnishings,” shares Leigh Morton, a Senior Designer at Breather.

Is there any wiggle room? You can easily free up funds by adjusting your expectations. For example, you may not need as many meeting rooms as you think—you can always rent temporary spaces to fill the gaps. You may also want to consider going easy on the extra perks; a “cool” office is great, but it’s not worth putting your company into financial limbo.

What are the long-term benefits? Moving into a new office can help improve office morale and increase employee productivity. Determine whether a space truly fits your needs and your company’s overall goals—do you want to move into an open-concept office to encourage collaboration? Do you need private rooms for heads-down work? Make sure your values are reflected in your space—walk the walk, talk the talk.

Come on, get happy

Logistics are important, sure, but they aren’t the be-all-and-end-all. Make sure your entire team is comfortable with the change and how it will take place:

Is your team happy? It’s common for employees to reject change—they might have grown attached to a particular neighborhood, or maybe they’re worried about having a longer commute. But it’s important for your company’s managers to remember that changing your workspace can actually boost morale, especially if your existing office is old and drab (read: uninspiring). Moving presents a unique opportunity for your team to reset and reconnect. Let employees know why you think this is (quite literally) a smart move and how they can benefit.

According to Martina Di Bacco, an Interior Designer at Breather: “There’s a lot more to an office upgrade than hard numbers and logistics. Your team spends 40+ hours a week at the office—they need to feel inspired, creative, focused, and supported. Things like natural light, varied work stations and even natural finishes like hardwood can have a major impact.”

Do you need all that stuff? Tasks that are part and parcel with an office move—cleaning, packing, purging—can improve morale, too! Office clutter can be distracting for the team, and now’s the time to get rid of it. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and sell, donate or recycle the things that fail to bring you joy (like that folding table that’s found a permanent home between the wall and the fridge). This will give leaders and team members a fresh start in a new space.

What do employees need to know? Communication is essential for a smooth, efficient office move. Inevitably, there will be some interruption of business, which can be annoying for everyone involved (no one wants to lose a career’s worth of work when switching servers). Changing your management techniques may help to alleviate stress while things are in transition: provide regular updates to manage expectations, anticipate concerns by creating a shared schedule and keep the floor open to questions and suggestions.

It’s easy to decide if you want a new office, but moving is more complicated than you might think. It’s not a simple yes or no question—there are several options and outcomes that need to be carefully considered. Only when you’ve thought of how the move will impact leaders, employees and the business as a whole are you truly ready to change your office environment.


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