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Important considerations when moving offices internationally

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Whilst this is an amazing opportunity for business development, there are many factors to consider: 

General logistics

Moving or establishing an office is a complex process, even more so when it’s abroad, hence why having a structured plan for each aspect of the move is a necessity – don’t underestimate the time, resources and preparation that an expansion like this will take.

Often an international move involves different time zones and most likely several parties. Therefore, ensuring everyone is up to date on the plans and timing of each step of the move is vital. Having a shared timetable and plan in an online document can be a good way to keep everyone up to date in real time.

Make sure the property you’re moving into is well equipped for your needs; ensure that the building has an internet connection and that you have accurate floor plans and information about the building. For instance, you may have ordered or sent over various items to furnish the office that need to fit through the door. It may be worth having a member from your current staff or a trusted correspondent from the new location oversee the entire project to make the transition as easy as possible. 

Strategy

A change like this is likely to have several implications for your business and its strategy overall. It can be great in terms of diversifying your business’ income sources, expanding further into a foreign market creates revenue from a different source and this means that you are no longer dependent on just one economy. What’s more, having a business in various locations around the globe can be a selling point in terms of recruitment because having the opportunity to work in different countries can be an attractive prospect to potential staff members. 

However, an expansion like this also comes with inherent risks, so it is a good idea to start small and treat it as a polite venture. You can easily expand and increase your workforce as needs be, but opening new offices abroad can quickly become a large drain on funds and cash flow – therefore make sure you have an exit strategy or back-up plan if things don’t stay on track. 

Anticipating cultural differences

If you’ve already been working in another country it is likely that you are familiar with the rules, regulations and culture norms. However, if you are setting up a new business in this location, there may be laws that are now applicable to your business that were not previously. Ensure that your business practices adhere to the relevant laws and regulations of the new location. 

While you may have a generic business plan that works well in your current location, it is worth considering tailoring that plan to your new audience and culture. Exactly how will probably become more apparent over time as your business in that location develops. It might be worth looking into your competitors in the new location, not only to assess what you’re up against up but also to see if there’s anything they are doing that provides them with a competitive edge, that you could also offer. An awareness of the new market you’re entering is key to succeeding in it. 

It may be worth pairing a trusted team member from the current office and an individual who is more acquainted with laws and customs of the country you’re moving to, to run things together. That way the general values and procedures of the overall business can be translated and combined with the new expansion and culture. 

Integrating the new and old office

If you have trusted current employees that can help to start up the new branch then it is more likely to be created in a similar vein to your current offices. Having a select number of employee from your current office initially go and work in the new office and help to get it established can ease the transition, both in terms of the physical move and of bridging the gap between the new and old offices. 

Adding another branch to a company, particularly when there is a large physical distance and differences in culture to deal with, can be a tense time. With any large shift in an organisation, there is uncertainty regarding it’s sustainability and how this changes everyone’s roles. Encouraging the offices to work closely with one another should help deter any rivalry or misconception about the other branch. It’s important to establish communication and rapport early between the new office and old offices. 

Written by Rachel Hemsley on behalf of Abels, an international removals company.

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