Relocate or refurbish? Some useful considerations.

July 15, 2016    Tim Frankland     , ,

A workplace is no longer just a place of work, it’s where brands comes to life and people come together. It’s the incubator of ideas and creativity – of efficiency and effectiveness. It is the epicentre of operations.

With the ubiquity of technology breaking our shackles and freeing us to choose how and where we work, many thought the workplace would cease to have value. But as our transient working lives and behaviours evolve, the workplace has more purpose than ever before.

Big businesses realise the value of creating environments that employees actively choose to occupy. They know this aids the act of work, instils brand values, creates communities, drives loyalty and builds profitability. The modern workplace is about social engagement and communication not formal process.

So for businesses keen to make the workplace support their employees’ needs, project the right image and include enough flexibility and scope for growth – how do you know whether it’s time for an office move or to stay put and refurbish?

There comes a time in the life of all organisations when you either have to move to a new office or change an existing one. There is a tendency to see moving to purpose-built new offices as a better option but in the right circumstances, intelligent office refurbishment is at least as effective.

Answering the question of ‘stay or go’ is not just one of property and capital expenditure, it is much more all encompassing for it requires an in-depth look at your business and operations first.

There are two common reasons why businesses need to change their workplaces and both are business critical. Either the organisation needs to accommodate change (more or less staff) or it’s about to introduce a new way of working, technology or culture.

For growing organisations, it is often possible to accommodate more people in an existing office with intelligent space planning. This either changes the organisation’s space planning standards or frees up poorly used space or, more frequently, both. For businesses introducing cultural, process or technology change this can present a much less clear-cut approach.

All offices consist of five essential layers, each of which functions on a different timescale. These range from the site itself – which has a life cycle measured in centuries, to the building (decades), interior fit-out (years), technology (months) and people (minutes). An effective office refurbishment or move will resolve the tensions that exist between these layers.

Stay or go – some initial considerations.

Space to work, space that works: Quite possibly the biggest consideration is how much space you currently occupy and how much space you really need.

Business culture: Understanding your culture will help to establish whether it’s possible to breathe new life into your existing office, or whether a new location will better support your objectives. Self-awareness can be hard to achieve but involving employees helps in the change process.

Retention and recruitment: While a new office may help to attract new staff, factors such as location, access to transport and amenities can also impact on your current workforce. Could your workforce travel to a new location?

The brand: A growing body of research demonstrates the role a building can have as part of the company brand. If your organisation is strongly associated with a particular building, would a move be detrimental?

Wellbeing: Employers have a duty of care for their employees’ wellbeing. Ask yourself how significant wellbeing is to your organisation and whether it can be adequately considered within your current environment.

Budget: An office refurbishment can cost as much as an office move – consider your budget for change in advance.


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