Central to a business’s decision to relocate or refurbish office premises is identifying future needs. Tracey Cook examines how businesses can approach this task to ensure new premises match up to their business model.
WHETHER it’s an expansion, downsizing, a merger or a change in corporate structure, there’s a lot involved when a business decides to relocate.
According to Interiors Australia associate Murray Simcock, a business plan is vital to any organisation looking to relocate.
“Primarily before someone looks at property they should get their business plan in order,” he said.
Mr Simcock told WA Business News consideration first should be given to the business case, then the financial case and then potential properties could be looked at.
“You start by evaluating the business case then look at property that meets that business model,” he said.
As a rule of thumb to help businesses identify their future needs, Mr Simcock looks at four main areas – the people employed, the function they perform, the technology needed and the area required.
“They need to look at what they’ve got, what they would like it to be and what to allow for,” he said.
Mr Simcock said it was important to examine an organisation’s business model closely because that enabled the firm to marry up to the right building, one that would yield the greatest efficiency and enable it to operate to an optimum.
“Buildings may be efficient for one company and not for another, that’s when we come in to make sure that the building is the most appropriate,” he said.
“Good design makes good business.”
For many businesses a relocation or refurbishment occurs after five to 10 years of having the same fit-out and location. During this time, interior design styles, technology and the structure of the organisation may have changed.
Smith Madden design manager Jan Wright said it was an opportunity for businesses to look at what worked for them, what didn’t and what might be changing.
Ms Wright said clients needed to think beyond the “here and the now” to ensure the space secured gave the greatest efficiency and allowed for growth and contraction.
With today’s greater emphasis on the business bottom line, past office features are being done away with or converted in the trade off for greater space efficiency.
“Is everyone in the office all the time or do we need hot desking? Does everyone need a desk or would a kitchen bar type room where people can go and work suit?,” Ms Wright said.
Businesses should look at their conference rooms and boardrooms, and whether they sat unused for days at a time, she said.
Many businesses were converting their boardrooms into multiuse areas that could be used as quiet rooms or used as a library, or doing away with boardrooms altogether and screening off areas when a boardroom was desired.
“We’re looking at creating something that is more functional than an empty, well turned-out room,” Ms Wright said.
National accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers’ relocation of its State headquarters from BankWest Tower to QV1 involved moving 250 people and wielding an innovative approach to enhance the efficiency and flexibility of its work space.
Perth managing partner Andrew Edwards said that, after 12 years in BankWest Tower, the office fit-out had become a little dated and the firm’s capability to rearrange its space had become limited.
When considering relocation the firm looked for a premium building in keeping with its client list.
Also vital were a range of amenities to attract and retain staff and high level of information technology availability.
Likening a new office space to a clean sheet of paper, Mr Edwards said the relocation gave PricewaterhouseCoopers the opportunity to look at the internal parts of the organisation and to improve its use of space.
In shifting to QV1 Pricewater-houseCoopers managed to reduce its space requirements by about 1000sq m.
The firm has implemented hot desking and a work station hoteling system that allows staff to log in at any location.
Also audit staff, who spend the majority of their time out of the office, have not been allocated a dedicated work space, yielding further space efficiencies.
“Within three floors we’ve allowed for growth – growth in absolute terms but also growth in the mix of seniority as senior staff get offices,” Mr Edwards said.
He said most predictions of an organisation’s future needs turned out to be wrong, by the degree of error depended on the planning involved.
“Plan well ahead, consider carefully what you want to do and think outside the square in terms of design,” Mr Edwards said.