How to Relocate Offices
By Hanah Thibeault
In my last blog, I discussed how we’d outgrown our Halifax office and made a decision to move. The idea made me excited but also incredibly nervous. To be honest, I had never taken part in such a large-scale project before. I find moving houses intimidating, so you can imagine how I felt about moving an entire office. I also had very skewed expectations of how long the process would take.
Set Realistic Expectations
We started the process in August 2018 and I was 100% confident that we would be in our new office by November 1 that year. Man, was I wrong. However, I quickly learned two lessons that would prove invaluable throughout the process. Lesson one, find an expert and trust them. Lesson two, there will be compromises.
Hire an Expert to Help You
The first step in planning a move to a bigger office seems obvious – find a bigger office to move into. When I’m in the market for a new apartment, the first thing I do is check the local listings to see what’s of interest and then I contact the landlord to set up a viewing. I tried to apply this same logic when it came to finding a new office.
I did a lot of googling and searched multiple real estate postings for available commercial spaces, but I wasn’t turning up any real leads. I soon realized I was going about this the wrong way and it needed to be treated less like trying to rent an apartment and more like trying to buy a house. I needed an expert in commercial real estate to do the leg work for me. After contacting multiple agencies, I found an amazing broker – Ashley Urquhart of Turner Drake & Partners Ltd.
Ashley had stellar advice from the get-go and apparently finding a bigger office isn’t the first step to take. Once she told me this, it seemed so obvious and so basic. The real first step is deciding what kind of office you want.
Think of the Big Picture and the End Result
The culture at Content Bloom is very important to us and we needed to ensure we maintained that. We needed an office space that would be conducive to our fun, open, and collaborative work style. I needed to reevaluate our requirements list. By this point, our only requirement was to acquire more space, but additional space wasn’t necessarily going to give us the best office. I needed to stop focusing on the bare minimum and instead start thinking about what our ideal office [as a whole] would look like.
Evaluate Your Company Values and Set Requirements
I did some informal polling – what did everyone like about the current office and what did they wish we had. It confirmed a lot of things I already knew; we liked the feel of open workspaces, but needed more rooms for meetings, calls, and quiet time. The polls also helped me discover new things that I hadn’t even thought about.
The team wanted casual workspaces; places where they could get work done without being stuck sitting at their desk all day. They wanted a bigger kitchen for amped-up social events, lots of windows to benefit from natural sunlight, and they wanted to ensure we still had access to outdoor nature spots for much-needed brain breaks.
Get Feedback and Don’t Accept Defeat
I took all of this feedback to Ashley, along with our square footage requirement, budget, and location request. To her credit, she didn’t laugh in my face, but she did explain that the commercial market in Halifax is tight and we might not get everything on the list, though it wouldn’t be for lack of trying. Ashley made some calls, used her connections, and found a few solid leads for us and so, we embarked on viewing after viewing.
I started to feel like Goldilocks – this one is too expensive, this one is too small, this one is in the wrong location. Overall, none of them felt quite right. I started to question if our perfect space existed and wondered if I was being too picky.
With our current lease set to expire in two months, the pressure was on and we had to make some decisions. I still had hope that the perfect office was out there, even though that hope was slowly fading. It was around then, that I received an email from Ashley, informing me that there were two newly available spaces. Both options seemed promising, so we went to check them out.
Know When to Compromise
I once believed that love, at first sight, didn’t exist, but I no longer agree. The first building we visited was a brand-new space – it didn’t have walls, doors, or anything beyond a concrete structure, but I knew immediately that it was just right. Unfortunately, not everyone agreed with me.
The second space we visited was perfect in different ways and it was the one my search team partner loved. Neither space checked every box on the list, but both were too incredible to pass over. A compromise would have to be made, but what were we willing to compromise on? Price? Location? Space?
In the end, we presented both options to the Halifax office and let them decide. After much debate and very early discussions of which colors to paint the walls, a decision was finally made. We were going to take the space still under construction and build our office from the floor up. I thought finding the space was hard, but I had no idea what was coming next. From the walls to the doors, to the carpets and the ceilings, we were going to design and customize our very own office, one that would be perfect for us.
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