11 July 2019/ Guides

Should you renovate or relocate?

Essential things to consider when deciding whether to refurbish your current workspace or look for a new location

Is your business outgrowing the space it occupies? If so, it may be time to think about a new work environment. One option is to refresh and expand your existing location to accommodate your business’s current and future needs. Alternatively, you could take the plunge and move to a brand-new space.

Whether you're a business owner or a member of a leadership team, having to make this decision is both a blessing and a curse. It likely means your business is doing well, but it also signals potential upheaval and disruption – which applies whether you renovate or relocate.  When you find yourself in this position, here are a few things to consider when evaluating the pros and cons of both options.

 

Understand what you're getting into

 

If you’re exploring a possible renovation, start by doing your homework. Get familiar with applicable building regulations, heritage conservation requirements, the age and infrastructure of your building, as well as expectations of your landlord if you don't own the building. Trends including open-plan layouts, in-house cafés, and other innovative design upgrades may seem attractive, but ensure they fit within your building’s parameters and budget before devoting time and resources.

Do the comparison legwork. Evaluate costs to renovate against a projected cost of relocation. Take different scenarios into account and make a value judgement that balances budgetary concerns, future growth projections, and employee productivity.

The same research-based approach applies to finding new space. In that case, you can rely on advice from an experienced commercial real estate agent, but that's no replacement for your own due diligence.

 

How much disruption is too much?

 

Rather than a big move, renovation may be the best path to take – but this will mean disruption to day-to-day operations. If you decide to refresh your existing space, be aware that the period of disruption is likely to last substantially longer than if you were to relocate. Construction, equipment, noise and inevitable timeline delays could significantly disrupt operations and employee morale. What's more, health and safety issues could arise if not addressed properly. You'll need to weigh the pros and cons of the long-term benefits versus short-term discomfort and potential employee unhappiness.

Keep in mind that an occupied space takes more time to renovate than one that is vacant, as an empty office enables the contractor to tackle multiple tasks at once. Occupied refurbishments require a staged approach so that your day-to-day business operations are not completely disrupted during the process. While relocation also comes with complications, a small business move typically causes inconvenience for perhaps a weekend or two, whereas a renovation can take months.

 

Involve employees in the process

 

Involving employees early in the process builds ownership and excitement. Unless major commute changes are at play – which will need very careful handling – getting employees on-board with your planned move from the start will require less sell-in from the management team. Staff will feel involved in the company’s future plans and start looking forward to it. Conversely, employees about to endure a renovation may have a more difficult time seeing past all the inconveniences that will ensue, so it's wise to form an employee task force. Communication with team leaders helps keep everyone informed and limits surprises. Share regular updates to keep the vision front-of-mind.

Even if your business is not typically open to remote working, now may be a good time to allow for some flexibility. Offer your employees the option to work from home during especially disruptive stages to keep productivity and morale high. Including and accommodating your employees is critical to keep them on side.

 

A new space is a fresh start

 

While not feasible for every organisation, the advantages of relocation are plentiful. A move will reinvigorate your employees, provide an opportunity for refreshing your brand, and furnish your business with public relations and marketing opportunities. Finding an ideal new office has its complications and risks as well. For example, you'll need to negotiate a new lease, nurture a relationship with a new landlord, and perhaps saddle-up to a higher rent for a newer, nicer space. Overall, the decision to move or renovate should be a collaborative one among all stakeholders in your business.

 

About the Author: Rocky Mackintosh
Rocky Mackintosh has been a real estate market leader since 1972. In 1980, he founded Mackintosh, Inc Realtors, a multi-office general brokerage firm. In 1990, he established MacRo, Ltd., a land and commercial real estate development, real estate brokerage, leasing, property management, and real estate consulting services firm he heads today.