Less is More, When Cutting Costs on Post-Pandemic Office Space
You might consider these questions as you evaluate:
- How much of your staff would like to work from home and will they be productive?
- What percent of your team WERE productive at home the last 10 weeks?
- After determining who will work from home, will their space no longer be needed?
- Can you “rightsize” and save real estate costs?
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you optimize your re-imagined workspace:
1. Get feedback from the team
Identify who will be the internal champion to coordinate this effort, gather feedback, and decide how it will be presented. Including a third party to create and administer the survey is an option as well. This will shape the “big picture” for office space needs and who may be working from home moving forward.
Obtaining feedback from your team will also increase employee engagement for them to be heard and for a plan of action to be put into place.
2. Establish your requirements
If you determine you need less office space, which has been the trend since 2008, keep in mind that most transactions take 12 – 18 months to complete. It’s best if you know what your space needs are before looking at properties (think about size and location), as well as establishing a budget for any new or different office spaces. Don’t forget to check into incentives or available capital for moving into a new space.
3. Identify & evaluate alternatives
Once you’ve established your needs and budget, you might consider hiring a commercial real estate broker who can locate possible sites.
A broker will be extremely helpful during this process since they have access to the availability of your requirements with a simple query and a few phone calls. We’d recommend exploring a relationship with a broker to help you find what you need after your requirements are established for square footage.
4. Narrow down the list
Once a search is completed, create a shortlist of properties to explore and take a virtual or (if you’re comfortable) physical tour of the space. It is important to know how the property is managed. The broker will also assist with evaluation of HVAC, parking, and amenities. Amenities have been a huge factor for real estate selections for staff, in order to create a work-life balance. How will this change with the new normal? People will still need to exercise and have interaction with others. Will the amenities change? It will be different. Many firms we’ve spoken with are getting rid of all sofas and lounge seating.
Typically, two shortlisted locations move to the next phase which is a space plan, otherwise known as a “Test Fit”- which is paid for by the landlord, to explore if your needs will be met by the parameters of the space. After the space plan is created with your unique requirements, to ensure productivity and safety, then let the negotiating begin.
Have you considered Relocation Strategies as your advocate to survey your team and create you a space plan? You might determine after the results are reviewed to stay in place and reconfigure your existing workspace as the rent you pay now may indeed be very competitive. It never hurts to explore your options.
5. Develop an RFP
The real estate broker can develop a RFP and manage any communication between you and the potential landlord. They will negotiate on your behalf for leasing terms and a tenant improvement allowance. They will also have the legalese covered to help protect your investment. Brokers will pay for themselves by saving you time and money in the long run.
Relocation Strategies has worked with several brokerage firms over the past 30 years. We completely understand the process and we advocate for clients hand in hand with the broker of choice.
6. Analyze the proposals
After responses have been received, analyze the proposals with your broker and team. Consider the total occupancy cost, which is more than just rent. Take into account your utilities, management fees, ongoing maintenance, etc. Your broker can outline the financials so you have a clear picture of your total investment.
It might also make sense to consider purchasing a property. This is an entirely different evaluation. Relocation Strategies did this evaluation over seven years ago and decided to purchase and rent the space to ourselves for tax purposes and control over our own space. None of that would have been possible without the assistance of a broker to assist with the evaluations.
7. Negotiate final proposals
The broker will know how hard to push or where to compromise, as well as leverage their expertise to negotiate final proposals and iron out the details in your favor.
8. Sign final documents
Once you’ve made your selection, it’s time to sign a letter of intent (LOI) and then a lease or purchase agreement. Before you do either, we recommend a lawyer review the agreement to ensure you’re protected and fully understand what you’re signing. These documents will define who pays for due diligence, surveys, and earnest money.
Understand that leasing the property versus purchasing will mean a different implementation team. Leverage the expertise of your trusted advisors (Attorney, Broker, Designer + Project Manager, and internal team) to help you make the final decisions.
9. Oversee design, construct, plan and relocate
It’s time to design, construct and plan for your new location.
Keep in mind:
- Surround yourself with a DREAM TEAM to assist
- Communicate the budget to ensure it is met by all parties
- Reusing existing furniture can save Millions of dollars, as well as, blending new items in common areas
- Timing is everything. Create a timeline with all tasks involved
- This is a great time to re-brand with color, art, and/or signage
- Employee Engagement is critical for your team to transition easily. Make sure your team members have the knowledge and their input clearly defined, to ensure no hiccups along the way. A plan for Change Management is key so everyone is informed and aware of the upcoming new space.
Relocation Strategies has over 30 years of expertise in creating budgets, surveying, designing, communicating changes to staff, and planning the final move. We have specialized knowledge and experience that will help you.
10. Time to move
Now, the fun part! It’s time to move. Cross your T’s and dot your I’s, coordinate the vendors, minimize your downtime, and love your new space!
Designate your move coordinators, have a plan of action, communicate with your staff, and you will stay under budget and on time!!
Have you reimagined your workplace to optimize for the new normal and reduce your footprint to less space?