A commercial interior design firm works to help companies find a space that’s an effective setting for their operational and aesthetic needs, and tailors its services to best suit specific client goals. For example, one client may be relocating because of growth, another wants to reflect its rebranding throughout a new office, and another is downsizing operations and needs a cost-effective relocation solution. Design firms help clients such as these achieve their goals while saving them money, time and hassle along the way.

Smart Business spoke with Sam McWilliams, managing partner at SMC Consulting, LLC, to learn more about effective office relocation and design.

What are some ways to ensure a space suits a company’s needs?

A designer uses programming to learn about a company and its needs. He or she will spend a day at your office talking with management and employees to understand what is and isn’t working, then develop a space plan that will maximize efficiencies and increase productivity.

Another aspect of programming is learning about the company’s desired image and work to reflect that in its office look and design. Companies can effectively market themselves by injecting their brand image into their physical space. This can be achieved by using logo colors within the space or by finding ways to highlight the company’s products and services through imagery and design. If your space welcomes the public, then it should remain consistent with your brand promise and image.

How can a design firm help during relocation or construction?

A professional designer can help you get the most out of your rentable square footage by doing ‘test-fits’ in several buildings. This will help determine which building gives you the most usable square footage while comparing rentable cost per square foot rates.

Once a site is chosen, third-party oversight becomes an extremely valuable service to clients. Having a project manager represent you on a construction or relocation project ensures quality, cost control and that schedules are kept.

Weekly project update meetings will keep you informed and assured that the project is running smoothly. Project managers will keep control of the schedule, providing sufficient time for long-lead items and ensuring all the elements are in place and tasks are completed when they should be.

What needs to be done with the former location upon leaving?

First, know when your current lease termination date is and plan accordingly to avoid penalties. The more lead-time you have, the better project costs and schedules are controlled.

Next, avoid unexpected costs by reading and understanding the termination requirements in the lease. Some leases require that the building be restored to its original condition, which may require demolition, construction, data cable removal, etc. Some leases only require a cleaning after all assets have been removed. A relocation manager can provide assistance in the building closeout process.

What are ways a company can minimize the impact of a move on employees?

Companies should provide perks when relocating farther from ‘home’ because the risk of losing good talent is possible. Offset additional travel costs by offering free or reduced parking fees, public transportation discounts, or institute a flextime or a compressed workweek schedule. You can also identify area day care facilities and other personal services that are important to your employees before you announce the new location.

How can companies minimize operational interruptions when relocating?

Relocation managers take the hassle out of a physical move, whether it’s a multi-phase move, consolidating multiple offices into one or a single-phase move over a weekend.  Let them get you from point A to point B with little or no downtime.

Choose a design firm that can build an in-house team of designers, furniture planners, project managers and relocation experts. Firms that provide one point of contact, with all the resources at hand, makes the entire process seamless, which enables clients to focus on their core business.

Sam McWilliams is a managing partner at SMC Consulting, LLC. Reach her at (724) 728-8625 or sam@smcconsulting.net.

Insights Facilities is brought to you by SMC Consulting, LLC

Published in Pittsburgh

Relocation can be a challenge, but careful planning can be the difference between a move that’s difficult and one that’s smooth.

“When managing an office move, a move consultant’s objective is to minimize disruption in the workplace and quickly return the office to a normal workflow,” says Patricia Meyers, marketing manager at SMC Consulting, LLC.

 “No two moves are exactly the same. However, there are basic activities that need to take place to ensure an effortless transition,” she says.

Smart Business spoke with Meyers about how to effectively manage a move from one office to another.

What does a move management consultant do?

Whether you are moving an entire office, co-locating a cross-functional group or just reorganizing an office, a move management consultant can provide the appropriate plan and execution. An effective move management consultant will streamline the move process to ensure a successful relocation with minimal organizational disruptions, relieving the burden of coordination and implementation of the move while saving the customer time and money.

Move consultants simply enjoy the challenge of putting puzzles together. A move, like a puzzle, requires a process in order to execute the plan. You look at the whole picture — or in the case of a move, the old and new floor plans — then look at each small piece to find out where and how each needs placed to complete the picture.

What unique services can a move management consultant provide?

Experienced move consultants prioritize and manage a move by creating detailed plans and timelines for each of its phases, then communicate that plan to the customer and all associated vendors. Coordination, communication and scheduling all pre- and post-move activities will ensure a successful move.

Move management consultants might also be known as change managers. Change is not always viewed in a positive manner. Making the transition from an old, secure office space to a new, unfamiliar one is sometimes difficult and stressful for employees. The move management consultants will communicate on a regular basis to keep everyone informed as to progress and expectations. Employees who feel they are informed tend to embrace change, making the move less agonizing.

What do companies need to plan for when relocating?

There are many components to consider when relocating. Expect to have a solid and well thought-out plan of attack, and a move consultant who can execute that plan. Coordination and planning of movers, furniture, computers, phones, employee communication, office supplies and even the vending is critical to success.

As companies decide how they’ll execute a move, they should also consider:

  • Consultant’s time vs. employees’ time — Put the move in the consultant’s hands leaving time for your employees to handle the day-to-day business.
  • Experience — Productive processes and no loss of time.
  • Programming — Collaborating with all involved to assemble the puzzle.
  • Strategic planning — Making sure all parts fit together and knowing how to execute.
  • Execution — Implementing the strategic plan and managing every detail to ensure a successful move.
  • Attention to detail — Taking inventory of existing equipment, disposing of old and unused equipment, satisfying lease close out requirements.

A move consultant will help your company achieve cost savings by providing you with one point of contact who can reduce risk, time, cost and employee downtime. Ultimately, you want your employees to leave their old office on Friday and enter their new office on Monday ready to begin work with minimal disruption.

Patricia Meyers is a marketing manager at SMC Consulting, LLC. Reach her at (724) 728-8625 or pat@smcconsulting.net.

Insights Facilities is brought to you by SMC Consulting, LLC

Published in Pittsburgh

So the construction of your new office is nearly done and you’re getting ready to move in. Have you considered how you’ll populate your space with furniture, what type it will be and where you’ll purchase it?

“Practicality and well-being should be considered first when selecting office furniture,” says Kelly Colamarino, interior designer at SMC Consulting, LLC. “We all want our offices to look cool, but aesthetics should be accompanied by functionality. Choosing the right furniture for your office will increase productivity, employee satisfaction and company profits.”

Smart Business spoke with Colamarino about selecting furniture for your office space — from comfort and aesthetics to styles and finishes, and even where to go for the best prices and service.

What’s involved in the furniture selection process?

The first step in selecting furniture for your office is to hire a design firm to do programming on your current employees’ needs. Programming includes evaluating your existing furniture to find out what is working and what isn’t. It also involves assessing the way your employees and company groups work — whether they need an open, collaborative space to work together or closed spaces for privacy. This will help determine what type of furniture will work best in your office.

The next step is to select a furniture style. A design firm can help to decide if traditional, modern or transitional furniture is best for your office. The firm also will make sure to select finishes that relate well to the atmosphere and functionality of your office. Careful selection of fabrics and finishes will enhance office functionality.

Make sure to keep your future needs in mind while going through the furniture selection process. If your company is projecting growth in the next few years, it might be smart to look into systems furniture that can be easily reconfigured and added to, which will accommodate additional workspaces.

What comes after choosing furniture?

Now that you’ve selected your office furniture, you need to decide where to make your purchases.

There are many furniture stores that sell practical office furniture but do not offer the same benefits as purchasing through a dealership. A design firm can provide expert advice and guidance to help you select a furniture vendor, offering an objective opinion when it comes to vendor selection, and negotiating on your behalf. Your designer will review each vendor’s bid and help you understand the content of each, reading between the lines to provide insight.

Designers at the firm will help you find furniture that is within your budget. However, it is important to hold value over price. With furniture, like most purchases, you get what you pay for. Buying an inexpensive chair might help your immediate budget, but in the long run you must think about the costs of repairs and replacements of cheap chairs. Rather, it’s often better to pay a little extra upfront for something that will last longer.

What are the benefits of hiring a design firm to help furnish an office?

Hiring a design firm establishes a long-term relationship with the firm as well as the dealer. A good design firm will ensure that the dealer will be there for your company long after the point of sale.

After you’ve made your purchase, client support is necessary for any problems that may arise with your furniture. The firm will be there to help with any issues that may arise through the furniture purchasing process. It will work with the dealer to give you warranty information, as well as replacements for damaged or defective purchases. The firm also will keep your furniture selections on file, making it easy for the firm to contact the dealer to purchase additional furniture as needed.

Selecting office furniture is an important process every company should go through wisely. Working with a design firm through the process can ensure a functional and aesthetically pleasing office.

Kelly Colamarino is an interior designer at SMC Consulting, LLC. Reach her at (724) 987-7784 or kelly@smcconsulting.net.

Insights Facilities is brought to you by SMC Consulting, LLC

Published in Pittsburgh