After many months of waiting, the Billi UK team is now eagerly anticipating our move. In 3 weeks, we will be moving into our new office. Though the countdown is now moving quickly, we are actually 6 months into the project. With delays, challenges and some dilemmas, what are the things we’ve learnt from the moving process?
With our moving process, the lease has proved to be a challenge. We started negotiating on the lease in April. However, we didn’t sign the new lease up until the end of September. Consequently, the project had to be put to one side as the move kept being pushed back. This meant that we were unsure of move dates, and therefore lead times when we had to bring in external companies.
One of the main challenges we faced was deciding who to use to for the office fit out. If you’re moving office, this will also be a challenge you face. In the end, it comes down to budget and lead times – so pay close attention to these when choosing your contractors.
We were leaning towards a company that we have worked with before. Unfortunately, we had some questions about lead times and pricing so instead, we introduced a new company to complete the fit out. We did consider sub-contractors and project managing the project ourselves – but that would have actually worked out to cost more.
From a budget perspective, we saved by choosing a project management company rather than doing it ourselves. Ideally, the fit out would have been in June, to enable an earlier move. However, with the issues with the lease, and the impact that has had on fit out, relocation is now middle of December.
Alongside the larger tasks of fitting out the new space, and physically moving the team and furniture there, there are also a whole host of smaller things to consider. For example, telephones, internet, cables and so on.
One of the main things to consider when moving office, is the tech side of things. Making sure that the internet is set up and ready to use, telephones are cabled in and there is sufficient internet speed. If you have to install fibre – be aware that there can be incredibly long lead times, which can push back the move date by a lot further than you think.
In order for staff to be able to use the office straight away, there’s plenty of small things you might forget about. Our advice? Don’t forget the small things! Cutlery, sugar bowls, teabags, plates etc. It’s easy to think, oh ‘that’s just detail’, but for the office user that affects their every day. It can also affect their productivity and how they work, so it’s essential you consider all of these things, no matter how small they may seem.
Firstly, consider that the role of arranging a move is usually very stressful for the facilities or project manager. This is owing to the fact they are expected to deliver a fit out for the new office in parallel to their current job.
Because of this, it’s of paramount importance that everything is carefully planned and prepared for, before the moving process has begun. The best way to prepare is to research, and create a checklist of everything you think needs to be done, before everything is underway. Don’t be afraid to use Google – our project manager says if he had worked to a checklist, he would have remembered the smaller things better!
Make sure to think about the fact that it’s not only the move you’re planning, but also maintenance services. Things like shredding, aircon, food delivery and waste disposal etc all need to be thought about! If you’re moving far, you may not be able to use the same service providers as before.
1. If you’re the project manager in charge – this is over and above your day job. For a new fit out, you need to be ‘up for it’. There will be plenty of additional challenges along the way, so don’t underestimate how time consuming the move will be.
2. Get good contractors on board from an early stage. Ensure that the lease is progressing while you’re going out to tender other services. Be aware of lead times for those services – including lead time and period on site. Delays can push the move back!
3. Phones and IT. Make sure that fibre network is sorted out prior to the move. Be aware of excessive lead times (up to 3 months).
In terms of team contribution, should everybody be on board, or should it fall on project management? Certain things should definitely be asked. Things that will directly affect staff’s productivity, like ergonomics – office chairs and so on. Make sure to take feedback about important user-related things. However, when it comes to the move, it’s not the time or place for everybody to have their say. We recommend having a dedicated, close-knit project management team. A team means you can bounce ideas around and get feedback from people who understand every detail of the project.
When it comes to the individual responsibility of staff, you will want to give them minimal tasks to carry out. A move is disruptive, and can mean some staff members may be a bit confused or overwhelmed with trying to work out their own changes due to the move. For example, commute route, what items to take with them or leave behind and so on.
For us here at Billi, when it comes to the staff moving into the new office we have put provisions in place to make sure everything goes smoothly. On each desk, every person will have their name, the internet password, how to use the taps. Everything they need to do will be laid out for them on a piece of paper.
Making everything as smooth as possible and as easy as possible for the staff! Stuff like, is there sufficient parking, what are the local amenities, what is the food/lunch situation and so on. Managers need to be close to their staff so they can learn if there are any move related grievances and make sure they are cared for.
Health, wellbeing and sustainability are very important in the workplace. These are buzzwords in the world of office design and facilities management right now. For us, one of our main aims for the new office was getting rid of single use plastic to improve sustainability. Having a boiling/chilled tap was a given due to this need. We are actually having the boiling/chilled and sparkling water systems. This plus Billi branded glass bottles for the meeting rooms, so that when we have got visitors or we’re training engineers, there is no need for plastic bottles.
Boiling kettle is a thing of the past. The advantage for having a Billi system – rater than kettles, water cooler and lots of plastic bottles is that there is just one system. This saves on space within the office, as there is not a huge amount of storage room to store water bottles around the new office. The only way to get sparkling water usually is bottled, so this cuts down on our plastic intake.
How else can you increase productivity in the workplace? We’ve decided on really making the most of break out areas. With fun additions such as a table tennis table, which is great for a bit of fun and exercise. We’ve also introduced some bean bags too, to act as casual seating, or somewhere to relax. Overall, the new office is an open plan space, but with break out zones, meeting rooms and quiet rooms to use as staff need.
Often, when considering an office move, you’ll be forced to consider open plan vs. individual offices. Layout wise, we’ve decided productivity will be best when people are sitting in departments. The different zones of the new Billi office will relate to the task, rather than status. This new, versatile open-plan layout also provides room for expansion.
The choice to hire an architect or interior designer depends entirely on your company and the size of the project. We didn’t, instead the project ‘came together naturally’. However, sometimes you will definitely need external resource support. Whether that’s a designer/builder/contractor. Make sure to take a look on the internet too. If you’re in a large space, you’ll need a workplace consultant from an architectural firm. This will make sure everything goes smoothly when it comes to design.
Think about your existing office, and do a start/stop exercise. What will you start doing in the new office that you don’t already do? Then, on the flip side, what will you stop doing in the new office? Stop doing things that waste time/money, start doing things that improve productivity and save money/energy!
We hope this has helped you with everything you need to consider if you’re moving office too. Every business is different, but by planning in advance, having a dedicated team and being flexible to changes, your move should go smoothly too.