Office Relocation Survival Guide for Corporate Tenants

March 5, 2020 Don Catalano Don Catalano

One of the upshots of optimizing your company's corporate real estate portfolio is that you will probably end up moving around a bit. Whether you are looking to consolidate multiple spaces into one, downsize a too-big space or simply move for a better deal, office relocation is usually in the cards for any company that optimizes. While relocation can be painful for both the real estate staff and for the workers that have to move, following a set process can help to make the process less unpleasant. Here are some tips to help you survive your next office move.


Communicate Your Plan

Office relocation can be a very big deal up and down your organization. A new address can affect your company's branding and marketing activities, so letting those departments know as early as possible is helpful. A new location poses new logistical challenges both on the physical support side and on the data support side. Closer to home, moving offices can impact your worker's commute patterns, the services that they use during the day, how their children are cared for and may even lead some of them to choose to move residences.


With all of these factors in mind, plans for a move should be communicated up and down your organization as openly as possible. This way, everyone on your team knows what will happen and when and is in a better position to plan for it.


Start Early

One of the keys to a successful office relocation is to start the whole process as early as possible. While you might need to start looking for new space two years before you have to move, an office relocation can start as early as one year prior. This gives you time to find movers, order furniture, select new vendors, deal with local governments and, potentially, staff up (or down) for a differently sized space.


Managing a Timeline for a Commercial Office Relocation

An office relocation doesn't happen overnight. But if you do it right, it'll look that way to your coworkers. Although the process of identifying and leasing space should start around a year before your final move date, the actual move timeline starts about six months prior to when you relocate to your new space. Here is a timeline that you may use to inform your coworkers how you intend to plan your move:


Six Months Out

Six months before your move, you should have your lease signed and your concessions negotiated. At this point, it's time to get your architect and space planner involved so that you can draw up construction documents and order any new furniture that you'll need for the space.


As a part of this, you'll want to audit what you have in your existing space to decide what your company will keep, what it will sell and what it will dispose of. While it's tempting to use an office relocation to freshen up all of your furniture, fixtures and equipment, there's no reason to re-buy items that are functioning well and have a long remaining, useful life. After all, moving is almost always cheaper than buying.


Five Months Out

After completing your office relocation plans, it's time to start configuring your new space. If your building doesn't specify a specific contractor, get bids from three different firms and sign a contract with the best one. At the same time, order furniture from your chosen vendor. This will give them more than enough lead time to get your order delivered on time.


Three Months Out

At 90 days out, your new space should at least be roughly finished so that you can start visualizing your new space. It's also time to start getting down to the nitty gritty of preparing for the move:

  • Collect bids from and select a mover. As a part of this process, you'll need to decide whether or not you want employees packing for themselves and, if so, what they should pack.

  • Begin the process of selling or disposing of items that you won't be bringing over. At the same time, begin purging files and supply closets of items that don't need to come over.

  • Establish telephone, Internet and other communication services.

  • Let all of your vendors know about your office relocation and about its date. That way, you won't have any interruption in service.

  • Order new stationery and business cards and let your web designer know about the impending move.


If possible, consider holding a tour of the new space for your employees to help boost morale. If not, simply notify them.


Two Months Out

Visit the new space to re-orient yourself to its layout. Use your site visit and your architectural plans to develop a detailed floor plan, marking both equipment locations and where each employee will work. This is also a good time to reconfirm all of your changes with your vendors and to confirm that your furniture is on the way. Finalizing your switchover plans for your telephone and data networks is also an important task to do. Hold another "purge day" where you throw out more unnecessary material to lower both your moving cost and the clutter that you take with you to your new space.


As you approach your office relocation, you will turn your attention to your new space and to inspecting it and creating a construction punch list for completion. Consider scheduling your move over the weekend so that your team has extra time to clean up any remaining issues or messes.


A tenant rep can help you every step of the way, so make sure you have one on your side.


Be a Month Early

Finally, it's best to set yourself up to be able to move into the new space one month before you actually plan to do it. In other words, if your target move date is March 1, your goal should be to have that space in turnkey condition for February 1. If you've done more than one office relocation, you know that the old cliché to expect the unexpected is true. With a month of fudge time built in, almost nothing can derail you to the point that you miss your final intended move date. After all, it really is better to be safe than sorry.


Pare Down

The same rule that applies to moving your house works for an office relocation. A new space is a great opportunity to get rid of old stuff. Paring down unnecessary files, outdated IT equipment and broken or unattractive office furniture doesn't just reduce the total weight -- and the cost -- of your move. It also ensures that your new space will start out clutter-free and let you use it more efficiently.


One of the best ways to pare down is to have a few different purge days. By scheduling purge days 120, 75 and 45 days before your move, your workers are more likely to find the time to get everything done. This is another reason that it's important to start the process early.


4 Common Misconceptions about an Office Relocation

While office relocation can be the solution to a company's problems with its existing space, unfortunately, it can also cause a host of new problems. Many companies go into their relocations with some basic misconceptions that can lead to new spaces that don't fit their needs and leave them in a position to have to relocate again.


1. “I'll Get x Square Feet.”

Whether you're relocating for more space, less space or the same amount of space, it could be a mistake to calculate your space needs based on current company needs, or even its needs three years from now. If you're buying a building, you could be there for decades. If you're leasing, you may need to stay seven or more years to get the best possible lease from your landlord and to effectively amortize the out-of-pocket costs for your tenant improvements. With this in mind, choosing space that can be easily scaled up or down can make it easier for you to stay longer in the same place and avoid another office relocation. Here are a couple of things that you can look for in owned and leased space:


  • Owned buildings with a co-tenant that you can expand over, or the ability to shrink your space

  • Owned buildings with land for expansion

  • Leased space with multiple egress points for easy subdivision

  • Leased space with expansion options on adjacent spaces


2. “I Need Offices and Cubes.”

Building out your office space can give you a sense of permanence. One of the best parts of office relocation is the opportunity to customize your new workplace to suit your company's changing needs. However, it's likely that those needs will keep changing. With that in mind, the fewer offices and cubicles that you build and the more open space you have, the better off you'll be if you need to move things around. When in doubt, don't shy away from having too many small and mid-sized conference rooms. They're useful and in a pinch, can be turned into offices or work-group spaces.


3. “Our Current Location is Perfect!”

Your current area might be everything that you need, but it could be less desirable in 5 or 10 years. If the path of growth in your community is moving away from your area, you could find yourself on the wrong side of town in a few years. Companies that choose boutique spaces in trendy areas may find that space to be inconvenient or inappropriate if their employees or customers age, as well. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • If I recruit employees that live elsewhere, can they easily commute to my new location?

  • Where are the newest developments occurring?

  • Have any competitors moved? If so, where?

  • Is traffic getting better or worse?


4. “We Have Enough Storage and Server Space.”

When you're designing space as a part of an office relocation, it's easy to neglect two types of space - storage areas and the server room. However, both are very important and if undersized, they can be a major inconvenience for your business. Given that an open floor plan is usually more efficient than building out offices and cubes, you should have more than enough space to configure extra space for these two areas. In the long run, they'll make your employees more efficient, give you a more reliable network, and save you the cost of off-site storage alongside the expense of having your workers manage and use it.


Office Relocation: Weighing the Opportunities of a New Market


PRO: Cost Efficiency / Increased Revenue

CON: Capital Expenditure

The benefits of an office relocation to your company's operations have to be weighed against the impact of the capital expenditure. However, while this may be the most important consideration in the move from a CFO's perspective, it's also the easiest one to calculate. Calculating the internal rate of return of the capital expenditure against the long-term cost savings or projected increase in revenues will enable your company to quickly determine if the move is a smart financial investment.


PRO: The Move

CON: The Move

Moving an office isn't an easy process, nor is it an inexpensive one. The process of preparing can take months and consume both money and valuable person-hours. However, a move is also an opportunity to start anew. Your company can purge old files, eliminate unnecessary equipment and update obsolete materials and systems. Taking advantage of the move to do this can make you able to be more efficient in less space.


PRO: New Client Opportunities

CON: Interrupting Client Relationships

An office relocation brings new opportunities. Geographic proximity gives your company that opportunity to be a "hometown" provider to the surrounding businesses. However, it also carries the risk of interrupting relationships that you have with your clients in the market that you're exiting. One way to mitigate this is to maintain satellite presence in your previous market to provide client service. Barring that, you may want to adjust your operations budget to allow for additional travel during the transition period.


PRO: New Talent Pools

CON: Managing Regional Differences

Opening an office in a new market also opens your company to a new pool of talent that it may not have been able to tap previously. As you go into that market, try to leverage local assistance to prepare you for local differences. While the world continues to shrink, there are distinctions between the way that employees work and the way that business is conducted in different markets. A star employee in New York City may be very different from one in New Orleans. Clients in San Francisco will probably relate to your team very differently than your clients in San Antonio, as well.


Ultimately, the biggest consideration for an office relocation is that, no matter how much you prepare, your business is setting out on a new venture. While new ventures are fraught with risk, those risks are also the best way to grow and build success.



With the right plan and enough time, you can make your office relocation seamless and less stressful. Bookmark this guide to refer to you as you proceed through the process to ensure a successful relocation.


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