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Is relocating one of the most stressful jobs for facilities managers?

Finding a property, dealing with solicitors, negotiating costs, securing the deal and managing the logistics of moving can be a very challenging and time consuming experience. In fact, research from EstatesDirect.com shows buying or selling a house is more stressful than being made redundant, getting divorced or going bankrupt.

When it comes to business, the relocation process is not dissimilar – it can be stressful. According to research from E.ON SME owners and managers say that moving premises is the second most stressful task they have to deal with. In fact, the potential hassles involved have caused more than three quarters of business owners and managers to delay moving, meaning they stay in often cramped, dilapidated, expensive or inefficient buildings.

Jane Streat, Head of Client Services at Lexington Reception Services caught up with Jane Orr, Facilities Co-ordinator at Hammerson, to find out more about how Hammerson has used relocation as a catalyst to transform the business.

Hammerson, Europe’s leading owner-manager and developer of retail property, recently relocated to new offices. Its new brand proposition is now showcased at its new headquarters in Kings Place, King’s Cross. The new 24,000 sq ft office on the sixth floor of Kings Place, has seen Hammerson become part of a vibrant central London hub, which has rapidly become a sought after spot for a range of international businesses, including fashion retailers and media companies.

The new office…

The working environment has been completely transformed. Hammerson’s working environment is now an open plan office, where people hot desk and are encouraged to work flexibly. The natural light, use of colour, plants and office layout creates a much more welcoming environment and positive energy.

The new location, in King’s Cross, enable the business to tick the ‘one-floor’ box allowing them to introduce a more contemporary, modern, agile working environment encouraging a more collaborative working style. The office incorporates quiet zones, huddle spaces, telephone rooms, and a stand-up meeting area, as well a landscaped terrace.

The new office supports Hammerson’s new brand proposition and shift to become a purely retail-focussed property specialist. The location and design is much more representative of the clients it serves – the new space includes a large retail showcase area, which is positioned in the heart of the office, and enables the team to showcase its work and ideas to its stakeholders.

The location: why Kings Place?

Accessibility and cost were both important considerations when choosing the location. King’s Cross ticked a lot of the boxes the team had placed on their wish list.

Jane Orr said, “King’s Cross has become an energetic, vibrant hub with travel options for both national and European locations. With offices in Paris and partners all over the UK it made sense to be placed in a location that offered centrality.”

Successful move: involving your partners

Hammerson decided to take the opportunity to review all of their facilities when they embarked on the relocation project. Jane Orr said, “We involved our employees and our external partners – this was key to the successful relocation and helped ensure we got the design right. Regular and open communication was also a key factor.”

The Lexington Reception team are now extremely visible. They were almost hidden away in the previous building but they are now positioned right at the very heart of the office so everyone who walks into the office or takes a toilet break passes the front desk. Erika Spalding, Front of House Manager says, “Being so visible enables the reception team to interact more with employees and deliver a more memorable experience. This gives us the power to directly impact the mood and smooth running of the building.”

Hammerson also used the office move as an opportunity to refresh their catering offering. Jane Orr says, “We worked closely with Lexington Catering to revamp the proposition. We knew that it may take a little time for our employees to get used to because we formerly offered a three course lunch which was heavily subsidised. But Lexington worked with us to develop an offer that meets our needs – they know our employees well enough to understand we needed to offer more than the basic café we originally requested. They worked hard to create a new offering, within the budget, that continues to offers considerable choice and quality and compete with the offering on the high street.”

It’s all in the planning…

In a move like this forward planning and flexibility are vital. But the single most important consideration for any organisation relocating is its people.

Hammerson created a communications initiative, called “Be”, to make sure that everyone was kept up-to-date with the project and felt a part of the journey:

  • Be in the know
  • Be aware
  • Be informed

This served as an incredibly effective platform, supporting employees in the move from a personal and professional perspective. A steering committee and a working group were also formed, both overseen by a relocation specialist who was contracted into the business to manage the move from start to finish.

The steering committee consisted of a representative from every department across the business and the working group was made up of IT, Facilities, Corporate Communications and HR. These groups ensured all stakeholders, particularly all employees, had a say and contributed in some way to the design of the new office.

Sustainability: an additional challenge…

In addition to making sure the office represented the businesses focus on retail and created a more collaborative working environment, the team wanted to achieve a SKA Gold Rating – demonstrating it’s a sustainable fit-out – which they have recently been awarded. This was no easy feat and involved a lot of planning and creativity to understand exactly what they could take with them from their previous office and how they could use it (everything from the legs from tables to plants).

This also presented a number of challenges with regards to staff placement because they were taking old furniture with them. In the lead up to the relocation the business encouraged staff to work from home and other Hammerson offices including shopping centres so that they could move the furniture and facilities to the new offices.

Jane Orr said, “It has been 18 months full of challenges and excitement! Forward planning and flexibility have been key to the success of the move. Whilst there are a few things we need to improve, overall we were delighted with how the project went and I truly believe that the businesses focus on retail has been strengthened by the new office.”