By Senior Interior Designer Jenna Meyers, IIDA, NCIDQ, LEED AP
There are many factors that prompt a company to begin thinking about whether they should stay in their current space or move. Chief among them is an impending lease expiration; significant changes in staff size; the need to cut costs; or a merger, acquisition, or consolidation.
A common misconception is that it is less costly to renegotiate and renew a lease that includes an allowance for renovations. This is not always the case when you consider the disruption to workflow that an ambitious construction project can cause, along with higher costs when there is no swing space to accommodate staff while their area is being worked on. This scenario would necessitate construction phasing, thus prolonging the project schedule and potentially requiring certain tasks to be performed at night or on a weekend, which means overtime pay. Even if there is swing space in your building or another building, there would be associated rental costs. However, if renovations are limited to simple cosmetic improvements like new carpet and paint, then disruption is relatively minor and short-lived, and staying may be the best option if a company’s current space will meet their needs for the length of a new lease.
Companies considering lease renewal versus a move should strongly consider working with an architect that will test fit their basic program to available space in feasible buildings, including their own. For new and/or small companies anticipating a stable head count, this traditional approach may suffice. But for larger and more established organizations or those with dynamic marketing goals and corresponding growth trajectories, detailed programming at the outset is to their ultimate advantage. Why? Because an accurate, comprehensive program is at the core of every successful facilities decision, particularly when it comes to one that has such critical first- and long-term ramifications associated with cost, productivity, and overall satisfaction.
In partnership with clients whose circumstances have led them to the “stay or go” point, that process involves conducting an in-depth programming exercise that incorporates a range of data, from operational information, spatial interrelationships and adjacencies, and current and projected head counts, to space usage and types, furniture, hybrid work scenarios, and goals surrounding brand, functionality, productivity, company culture, sustainability, and workplace environment, among others. Once the program and vision have been completed, the resulting information can be applied with high confidence to test fits.
We often work closely with brokers and tenant representatives to evaluate the pros and cons of each location and assist with the final building selection. A case in point is Boston Trust Walden, an independent, employee-owned investment management firm. They decided to move after realizing that their office could not accommodate growth. Reevaluating their space usage helped crystalize their objectives, which were to achieve a contemporary, functional space that facilitates individual and collaborative work, accommodates future growth, and manifests their core values. Opting to stay at One Beacon Street, the firm moved to the 34th floor. As an outcome of conscientious programming and collaboration, their new office space, which was expanded by 50%, features a design based on equitable access to natural light, sustainability, and transparency, reflecting key company principles.
With many such examples in our project experience, we can attest that workplace decisions built on a foundation that combines factual data and aspirational criteria are always the most successful.