Why Is Moving Your Office Such a Headache? Let Us Break it Down (Part II)

Fast-growing companies have a lot to focus on: product development, marketing, getting that next round of funding, all while fending off competition. It’s no wonder that moving to a bigger office to accommodate rapid headcount growth–a high class problem–can get put on the back burner until it’s absolutely necessary. But moving takes longer than you think. Here’s why.

Time Commitment #1: Figure Out Space Needs

This used to be fairly straightforward, but with the rise of freelancers and a more mobile workforce, the formula today is a bit more complicated. Either way, calculating space hinges largely around two thing: current needs, and future needs.

Employees used to sit in offices and cubicles all day, but with laptops, cellphones, WiFi and office design more conducive to inter-office mobility, that no longer is the case. The first step is figuring out how your employees use their current space. Hunkered over desks all day? Hanging out in conference rooms? Spending half the day working from down-the-street coffee shops? This will help determine space needs. The less they are chained to desks, the more creative the space calculations. More common space, involving plenty of outlets to plug-in laptops and phones, could be essential for the new digs. If employees tend to commandeer conference rooms for phone calls, think about installing phone-booth-like pods in the office — they free-up conference room space, while giving employees privacy.

This important step should not eat-up a ton of time — plan on just a few days.

Time Commitment #2: Hire For the Move

The traditional route isn’t exactly as easy as Airbnb (although the agile approach is close). Most companies will need brokers, lawyers and architects and designers to build a custom office.

The good news: A commercial tenant broker gets paid by the landlord rather than the tenant. The bad news: the lawyers, architects and designers don’t. Finding a good broker should not take too long, but getting on the schedules of reliable real estate attorneys and architects and designers could take a few weeks. In addition, companies should vet these key players before making any decisions. Count on two weeks to have the team in place.

Time Commitment #3: Find the Space

With space needs understood and the team in place, it’s time to start shopping.

Take your time. The best office decisions come only after review of the range of possibilities on the market. A week? Forget about it. Plan on spending at least a month, and often three or more, touring offices and talking with landlords about amenities. Once the list is narrowed down to less than six properties, it’s time to involve the lawyers. Lease terms can be flexible, and it’s the attorney’s job to negotiate with landlords to secure the best deal. Once the dream property gets selected, the next step is a Letter of Intent, or LOI. This document secures the property for you while the landlord, your attorney and the rest of the real-estate team in the company negotiates the terms of the lease. This is another do-not-rush step — negotiating the lease is easy compared to revisiting the lease after it has been signed. Get it right from the get-go.

Time Commitment #4: The Build-Out

The build-out normally stands as the most frustrating part of the move experience. Coordinating contractors requires constant pivoting and communication on the part of at least one person within the company. The IT team was supposed to be there on Monday at noon, but they got stuck on another job. It’s pushed back to Wednesday. Carpenters, who are building walls, work half days and then head to other gigs. Electricians screw up the wiring to the conference room, the furniture truck arrives with the wrong desks, the painters followed the designer’s directions for wall colors — but you don’t like it.

The build-out is complex, with myriad moving parts that often tend to go in unexpected directions. The time it takes for the marathon move? If you’re lucky, count on three to six months start to finish, from the time construction begins to the time employees turn on their computers.

Or you can forego the time commitments altogether and work with Knotel, where we will make sure you’re ensconced in your new space in less than half of that time.