Interviews

Office moving tips: Why this startup went bigger than needed

6 min read

01 November 2016

HRC Law founder Simon Whitehead shares his experience of moving bases, and provides office moving tips including a team Pinterest board to share ideas.

As a startup commercial law firm, we’ve spent the past three years pushing for growth. Seventeen people later and it’s fair to say we were feeling one of the downsides of growing quickly. With an office bursting at the seams, the room was creaking with people practically on top of each other. The proverbial swinging cat would’ve had no chance. We’d outgrown the place in every sense. Here are the office moving tips I’ve got having been through the process.

To future-proof against our ambitions, we decided to search for a new office that would accommodate the team in coming years. Although it’s always slightly sad to say goodbye, this office move is the next step to achieve our growing future. Our 2020 vision sees the team doubling in size from where we are today. In line with this we’ve upgraded from our old 1,400 sq ft premises to a somewhat roomy 4,300 sq ft.

This was a significant investment for the firm which piled on the pressure to find the right solution. Naturally it’s not all about the square footage and our new address has the advantages of event facilities, a more central location and a blank canvas to create spaces that will benefit our team and clients.

Choosing the new premises was by no means easy and we had the head-start of a commercial property solicitor in partner, Helen Marsh, who was obviously more than qualified to assist me with that job. Despite the in-house expertise on office moving tips, choosing a new base is a tough task for any business and the options are endless. Time pressures meant we couldn’t deal with the task entirely in house and as such, engaged a property agent to help us get the right space.

The property agent whittled down a long list of over a 100 potential spaces to a short list of 20 properties for us to view. His input allowed us complete clarity of the associated costs and allowed us to see the total and true cost of the options we were considering. We have ended up taking a larger space than we originally intended as it gives us room to achieve our growth ambitions and because as a team we secured a deal which made it cheaper than other smaller options we were considering, which hadn’t given us the same long term security.

As with any big decisions at the firm, I was determined to involve the entire team in sharing what they wanted from their new workplace. In practical terms this meant there would always be inevitable winners and losers.

Office moving tips

Location, location, location – as the estate agent’s mantra goes – was going to be our most divisive subject. Nobody wants minutes added to their morning commute or to have to rearrange the route to drop children off at school before a working day. So, we put a huge map up in our office for everyone to plot out the differences the shortlisted offices would make to their day-to-day. As it happened, the final choice actually ended up making very little difference so we had a happy team all round.

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To canvas opinion, we set up a Pinterest board for all team members to have their input and creative influence on the new office ahead of the move. From disco balls to filing cabinets, we had it all. The crucial thing was we knew what people really wanted and could create a space to truly be the sum of the parts. All this valuable input really impacted on our shortlisting and viewing options and lead to us taking a great space which has achieved a unanimous “thumbs up” from the whole team.

There’s a lot of pressure on business owners to provide an interesting working environment and we’ve certainly not gone for Google-esque quirky with slides and astro-turf. Our new office reflects our professional approach with a bit of HRC Law flair. We’ll also have a client lounge that will allow our clients to visit us on a regular basis and spend time with the team.

We’ve come a long way since the three people and a telephone in a box room three years ago, and I hope you’ve found my account and office moving tips useful. The funny thing about the tangible nature of the bricks and mortar that you do business within is that it actually gives you a reminder of how much you’ve progressed.

This article is part of a wider campaign called Founders Diaries, a section of Real Business that brings together 20 inspiring business builders to share their stories. Bringing together companies from a wide variety of sectors and geographies, each columnist produces a diary entry each month. Visit the Founders Diaries section to find out more.