Rachel Houghton looks at how to manage an office relocation in the legal sector.
According to PwC’s most recent annual law firms survey, 36 per cent of the top 100 law firms reduced their office footprint in the last year, with a further 56 per cent expecting to do so in the future.
We’ve supported a number of law firms with office relocations, such as TLT LLP in Glasgow, as firms use the relocation to not only reduce office footprint but move to a space that aligns with their company values. While a relocation and hybrid work can be exciting for legal professionals, the move itself is a complex project.
Navigating the intricate landscape of real estate entails addressing various concerns, from furniture management to safeguarding confidential documents. Crafting a comprehensive plan can significantly alleviate the stress associated with office relocations.
File management is perhaps the biggest concern for law firms when planning a move. A thorough file audit and mapping programme is essential for keeping track of all files and ensuring that employees can retrieve them easily if needed at any time.
Proper labelling, secure storage, and clear communication with the moving team regarding the tracking of said documents is crucial. GPS-tracked vehicles, locked and tracked boxes, and security guards are options for particularly sensitive documents.
An office relocation or redesign often results in surplus furniture. It’s imperative to conduct a thorough audit at the outset to effectively manage this.
Digital audits streamline the process by facilitating seamless record-keeping and enabling multiple stakeholders to access data from any location. These audits encompass an item-by-item assessment, including condition, location, and accompanying photographs. This information empowers relocation teams to collaboratively decide the fate of each item.
Beyond choosing what to retain or discard, sustainability takes precedence. Landfill is the absolute last resort for us as there are numerous other solutions that embrace the circular economy.
Options include selling, refurbishing for reuse or resale, storing, donating or recycling. Selling surplus items can mitigate relocation costs, while charities such as Business2Schools accept used furniture and IT equipment from businesses to be used in schools across the UK. Refurbished items can look as good as new and are a much better, more cost-effective, and environmentally friendly option than buying new furniture.
When we recycle items, we provide clients with a detailed report that confirms where each composite material has gone and the carbon saved through recycling.
Putting items into storage serves as a viable short-term option, and we encourage clients to be strategic so that items don’t sit in storage forever, as they will slowly lose their value and potentially be forgotten about. This is another area where a digital audit helps, as it makes decision-making much easier.
Managing IT relocation
IT includes server and office equipment relocations. Meticulous handling and precise timing is essential to minimise staff disruptions from server downtime.
For servers, specialised packing crates ensure their safety during transit. Given their significance in data retention, any damage must be avoided at all costs. As with physical files, vehicles transporting servers can be GPS-tracked to reduce risk further.
Office equipment such as computers, printers, and cables, require a comprehensive audit to prevent overlooking any assets, and this can be managed in conjunction with a furniture audit. Keeping track of all these individual assets will help to make the unloading process at the new office more efficient. Detailed planning at this stage can ensure individual IT setups are maintained at the new office, creating a seamless experience for the employees.
It’s important to remember your employees during a relocation. Engaging in an open dialogue, seeking opinions, and incorporating staff into the process fosters a sense of ownership. This engagement increases the likelihood of a smooth transition and the productive utilisation of the new space.
Successfully navigating an office relocation demands meticulous planning and collaboration. Whether partnering with specialists or managing the process in-house, a well-structured approach to furniture management, file management, and IT logistics ensures a seamless transition. By adhering to these guidelines, senior managers can deliver a successful move and help keep their firm at the forefront of the new workplace landscape.
Rachel Houghton is managing director of Business Moves Group.