How to handle an office refurbishment or relocation without pulling your hair out

As a UK business owner, renting an office presents some unique challenges that you have to overcome. While you try and estimate how large an office you require, there’s either empty unused space that’s burning your bank account in lease and rent expenses or people are jammed in like sardines in a can. While you probably get to a happy medium at some stage, it’s always a delicate balance.

office refurbishmentAt some point, you realise that you cannot economise when the office layout is too inefficient, and you’d be open to an office refurbishment to both modernise and make far better use of the rented space. Alternatively, if you have a good sense that no office refurbishment will provide enough space efficiencies to resolve the overcrowding issue, then an office relocation is likely the best option. And then with a larger rented office, it’ll still need modernising to create a suitable office for your company.

Here is some detailed advice on how to handle either an office refurbishment or a relocation properly to prevent your stress levels rising too high.

Assess whether a modernisation is all that’s required

Sometimes, an older office just needs some love to make it a better one for a vibrant company. It needs life breathed into it, perhaps with more of an open plan, greenery, and artistic interior design to create a more inviting office environment for employees and visitors alike.

Moving or refurbishing offices is a tough choice. Not every Managing Director has the know-how nor does another Director if they’ve not been involved in a relocation or refurb project before. Consulting with an office fit out company like Amos Beech, which helps companies through interior design and complete refurbishment projects for offices, is one way to make life easier.

When you don’t feel that you have the knowledge to make a realistic or correct assessment about moving to a larger office or modernising the existing one, then get some professionals to help make that determination. This way, you can have confidence that any decision is the right one for the firm.

Is refurbishing an existing office more difficult?

The simple answer is yes, it is.

Just think about it. The office is probably pretty full already. A refurbishing team has to get in there and relocate both people and furniture to a different part of the office to clear the area. Only then can they get to work redesigning the space, remove the carpeting, redo the walls, change the furnishings, and so on.

Moving people is not a simple matter because there are phone lines, extensions to change, internet connections and power sockets in sufficient supply that must all be provided

The amount of disruption this causes to a business is considerable, even if there’s a spare office to use for a temporary relocation. Some staff will need to be on-hand to provide advice and ensure the services are swapped over correctly so that everything works when the rest of the team arrives in the morning ready for work.

Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that when you’re trying to refurb an office while it’s currently in use, you’re stuck having to do it in stages. It’s usually not possible to have a clear office floor and work on that as a single stage. Instead, it’s often necessary to set up a new space, then move people across, and refurb the vacated part of the office. This is the slow way to complete a refurbishment compared to working on a vacant office before moving into it.

Is it worthwhile paying for a specialist outfit to complete an office refurbishment?

Let’s be honest. No one at your company likely has any experience with performing a refurbishment.

While they may have had extra sockets wired in or had the IT department come over to lay network cable or ensure the Wi-Fi was accessible, that pales in comparison to completing a complete refurbishment of an entire office.

There are so many more moving parts to organise that a project manager is required to handle all of it. Using checklists ensures that an office refurb project goes off without a hitch (or at least the hitch gets resolved). However, when you’ve never completed an office refurbishment project, how do you draw up a complete checklist without missing out something important?

Experience counts. When a project is complicated with many steps and sub-steps to work through, along with a team of movers, carpet layers, decorators, interior designers, lighting specialists, electricians, and other talented people, it becomes clearer that getting help makes total sense.

Can a professional team turn into a good investment with a tangible return?

Using a refurbishment team, you might think that all they’re doing is creating a new office space that’s just a bit different looking with some modern touches and tweaks here and there. That’s only the beginning.

Let’s start by looking at office morale and job satisfaction. When employees or teams are feeling low, they don’t produce quality work and complete tasks after some delay. Motivating them becomes a constant battle for management who don’t understand what they’re doing wrong.

Maybe they even try to recruit new staff to invigorate their moribund team, but they frequently just assimilate the same office culture after a while too. There’s no herd immunity effect where enough new people introduced can change the outcome for everyone.

Arriving at a newly designed office that has open plan areas, plant life in places where it won’t create sinus irritation issues for employees sitting nearby, and a colourful interior lifts the spirits of people working there. When spending 7-8 hours each weekday at the office, it’s more pleasant when it is an attractive space to spend time in. Indirectly, it also signals to employees that the company cares about their welfare and not just the bottom-line.

A modern office also works wonders for prospective clients who come for meetings. It tells them that the company is very serious about the quality of the services it provides to clients. However, it signals too that they care about their employees because they understand they’re the ones who provide the services their business relies upon.

How to proceed if you need to relocate to a larger office?

An office move has to be done in stages.

The first stage is finding a suitable new office in a location that’s close to reliable transportation connections and has a local population of appropriately skilled workers. When moving too far away from the existing office, many employees will choose to find new jobs rather than uproot their lives. Therefore, a decision must be made whether to find an office close to the existing one or be more flexible.

The second stage is securing the new office lease and completing a refurbishment before the lease runs out on the existing office. In most cases, it’s necessary to have some degree of overlap between the existing office and the new one because relocating all operations simultaneously is an extremely difficult task.

Benefits of refurbishing a vacant office before moving in

There are several benefits to refurbishing a vacant office. Here are a few of them:

  1. Signing the lease to a new office rental and gaining access to the office early is very useful. Initial interior design ideas and furniture can be ordered to avoid unnecessary delays between when the new lease was signed and the refurbishment can begin.
  2. With an empty office, it’s as close to a blank slate as you’re likely to get. An office refurb specialist has access to impressive interior designers who can create a new office look based on your requirements. Having done so many times before, they’re skilled at working within an agreed budget and drawing up plans that meet all the requirements.
  3. A refurb project can be completed in much less time when the floor(s) are empty of activity. There’s no moving around the company’s employees who are trying to get their job done and are being inconvenienced. Everyone on the refurb team can get to work delivering based on the agreed brief from the client.
  4. All equipment, phone lines, internet connections, electricity, and other necessary functionality required can be installed and working before any staff member goes to the new office. Everything can be tested and retested to ensure no foul-ups on moving day too. It’s infinitely easier.

Whether relocating to a new office or refurbishing an existing one, it’s a project with many tasks to manage. The process will take months not weeks. For instance, just finding a suitable vacant office in the right location often requires 6-12 months just to locate it for most businesses. Because of this, companies tend to intentionally move less frequently and lease out offices that are larger than their current requirements to further reduce the disruption caused by frequent relocations.

While it’s more disruptive if an office refurbishment is preferred over a relocation, then getting help with it minimises how badly it’ll affect business operations. Taking up the services of a professional refurbishment team avoids running into difficulties that extend the refurb project’s duration, causing additional problems for staff. This aspect is definitely worth strong consideration when deciding on the best course of action for the company.