The Spacebase team is moving offices in a couple of weeks, and while we’re pretty excited, it’s also got us thinking about the challenges of relocating. Even before you get to numbering endless piles of cardboard boxes or trying to draw up a seating plan that makes everyone happy, there’s the big question: where to move to? When you’re in a big city with lots of places to choose from, it can be tempting to just go for the cheapest option – after all, all you really need is a Wifi connection and a coffee machine, right? But as we’ve been discovering while planning our own move, the space you work in can make a big difference to your productivity, creativity, and happiness. With this in mind, relocating can be a great opportunity to evaluate what actually works for your team. We’ve come up with a few ideas to help you make sure that your new workplace is a move in the right direction.
Ask your team
The first thing we did when we were planning our move was to ask everyone what they thought was most important. Getting input from everyone about what does and doesn’t work in your current office will help you concentrate on the areas that actually matter, rather than wasting money on gimmicks that nobody wants. You can use this feedback to set priorities and to start thinking about how to accommodate different working styles. The key is to make sure that everyone feels included in the process: this will create more good will, and people will be more willing to accept a few compromises.
Location, location, location
Next you’ll need to think about where your new office should be. It’s tempting to view this simply in terms of what’s most practical for the company, and either go for a part of town with cheap real estate or a prestigious district that will impress your clients. However, you should also bear in mind your employees’ wellbeing. Studies have shown that a longer commute can significantly reduce job satisfaction and increase stress – so you should try to find a location that’s well-connected.
Let there be light (and plants)
It’s so obvious it hardly needs saying: people are generally happier when they’re surrounded by nature. Short of relocating your team to some rural outpost, though, how can you actually put this into practice? The key is a resource that’s often ignored when drawing up office plans: natural light. Choosing a space with big windows allows plenty of light to get in, reducing your reliance on glaring artificial lights. It also makes it easier for you to grow a few houseplants – which could make your team up to 15% more productive. Our own office is packed with plants – and we’ll be taking extra care of them during our move!
If you’re already convinced of the benefits of letting nature into the workplace, you could even go a step further and scout out a location near a park or a river. This might cost you extra, but your team’s productivity is sure to go up – plus, it’ll give you the opportunity to have walking meetings during the warmer months.
Thinking outside, inside, and all around the box
Now you’ve shortlisted a few spaces that have big windows and that won’t be a slog for your team to get to, you need to start thinking about your office setup. It’s tempting to go for the same open-plan arrangement as before – after all, it’s a lot cheaper than giving everyone their own space. However, open-plan offices aren’t always the best solution: they can be noisy and distracting, providing little privacy for important phone calls or confidential discussions. These days, the idea of the flexible office – a workplace with a variety of spaces, including open-plan areas, private meeting rooms, and two-person booths – is gaining more traction. If your employee input has shown a need for a wider variety of work spaces, this could be the solution for you: you’ll just need to work out how much of your square footage should be dedicated to each type of space.
Setting the tone
Finally, it’s time to think about aesthetics. The appearance of your workplace is especially important if you often have clients round to visit, but even if the only people who will ever see the inside of your office are the ones who work there, there are still some important factors to consider. Although plain, white walls might seem modern, they’re also pretty anonymous: visual elements should reflect what’s special about your company. If you want your employees to feel more engaged, then, an easy step is to paint the walls a different colour – just make sure you don’t go for something too distracting. If your space and budget allow, you can go further with decor, furniture, and even special features that really reflect your company culture. Just make sure that these are brand-appropriate: while custom neon signage and motivational messages might suit a tech startup, they would probably raise a few eyebrows at a prestigious law firm.