All the Right Moves

Five lessons we learned the hard way about office expansion

Since Hawke’s inception, we’ve been both blessed and burdened with extraordinary growth. What started as a five-person team in 2014 has evolved into an increasingly successful business with a team of over 130 expert marketers who have helped more than 1,500 businesses scale and profit.

While the growth has been great, it’s also come with growing pains. Recently settled into our new, 27,000-square-foot headquarters, we’re finally in a space that will enable and encourage further growth. Getting here hasn’t been easy and the Hawke leadership team, and I learned some valuable lessons in the process. Here are the biggest lessons we learned from building and moving into our brand-new headquarters that we hope will help make your own move seamless.

[To read more of Erik Huberman’s thought leadership click here]

1. FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION

We wanted an office that was custom built for us and being able to design a space that perfectly accommodates the way our company runs has allowed us to perform better. We were able to match the layout of our new office with the way our business works, rather than trying to retrofit an existing space to work the way we want. Creating that new layout gave us the opportunity to figure out what spaces and office functions were missing that our company and employees needed to succeed. Conversely, we were able to see which functions were unnecessary.

In an ideal world, you’ll find a space that can be designed to fit your company’s unique needs. If you’re not able to custom build an office as we were, at least look for buildings with existing layouts that will be conducive to the way you do business.

2. PAY ATTENTION TO HOW DIFFERENT EMPLOYEES SELF-ORGANIZE, BUT PROVIDE GUIDANCE

It was incredibly insightful and interesting to watch the way my employees self-organize: how they use conference rooms and common spaces; how they organize their desks and their days; and how they work most efficiently.

While our new office was still being built, to accommodate for the expansion of our company we had to rent a separate office two blocks away from our original headquarters. We put one of our teams in that new space and let them figure out how they wanted to organize the space, who sat where, and who got what. We thought that the added freedom would increase performance, but we instead realized that our employees needed structure. As a leader, you should take into consideration how people are best organized to accomplish what they need to, but you should also provide guidance and direction.

In our new space, we assigned which teams went into certain spaces, what areas were common spaces across the teams, what spaces were common areas specific to one team, and so forth. Creatives and accountants have different needs in order to be their most productive selves, so we ensured that each team was in a space tailored to their work styles.

It may sound like a small thing, but by simply providing guidance in the designation of space, we’ve already seen an immense ease in our moving and settling-in process.

Moving into a brand-new office space, especially one you’ve built from scratch, can be terrifying and stressful. But it’s also a huge accomplishment and should feel as such

3. LET YOUR EMPLOYEES FEEL HEARD

When figuring out our needs for the new space, we used it as an opportunity to give our employees a chance to voice their frustrations at what they thought could be better within the office. Of course, everyone wants free food and beer on tap. But beyond voicing the obvious desires, we wanted employees to figure out what they were missing in order to be most productive. And then we listened.

Listening to and evaluating their requests was important. Not everything will be feasible, but much of it probably is. We now have kombucha and cold brew on tap. We have a myriad of common spaces, some more public than others, to allow individuals to get away from their desks but still work. We have a recreation room to act as a reprieve from computer screens.

An office move is a great opportunity to find out what is truly lacking in your employees’ work lives. Find out what you can offer to help them be happier and more productive. Everyone will be better for it in the long run.

4. PARTNER UP

Especially in the entrepreneurial community, companies are actually incredibly willing to help each other out so long as there is fair trade-off. We’re lucky enough to have some very kind friends and partners who have helped make our new office even more incredible.

For example, each of our employees has a Varidesk, allowing them to stand and stretch their legs while they work at any time they choose. In return, Varidesk will be using our office as a showroom to clients and visiting us periodically. It’s a win for us both.

Additionally, we went with Openpath to handle all of our building’s open-access control. Our company already had a relationship with them, and we knew we wanted them to handle security matters. Now, not only do we not need to bother giving each employee a key (opening and securing doors is all done via the Openpath app), but the setup process was incredibly easy.

Don’t be afraid to look to friends of your business to help with various aspects of your new office space. Often this can lead to very fruitful partnerships for all parties involved.

5. GET THE NECESSITIES FIRST

Make sure you have your necessities stocked up and ready to go before anything else. Things like toilet paper, paper towels, trash cans, and garbage pickup are all extremely vital to the smooth running of an office. We had to learn the hard way on day one in the new office that we didn’t know what was happening with our trash pickup. It was a mess.

DON’T FORGET TO CELEBRATE

Moving into a brand-new office space, especially one you’ve built from scratch, can be terrifying and stressful. But it’s also a huge accomplishment and should feel as such. Don’t forget to congratulate each other on a job well done.

[For more on Hawke Media’s approach to Digital Agency click here]

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