Office moves are a hassle. There’s just no way around it. Even if you're moving up to bigger and better things, the process of picking up your entire firm and placing it back down somewhere new is incredibly complex and stressful--and that's before money even enters the picture.
Having served the DC law firm community for almost 25 years, you can imagine that we at Optimal have gotten a lot of questions regarding the steps and costs involved in office move projects. These are important questions to ask, and ones we're always happy to discuss.
Since there are so many factors that play into the overall cost of a move, we’ll break the process down bit by bit to give you a sense of where you’ll fall in the spectrum of pricing.
What affects the scope of a law firm’s move project?
The four main factors that affect the scope of your project are:
1. The size of your law firm. How many workstations will you need to disassemble and reassemble? How many desks will need to be properly arranged and cabled? How many servers do you need to transport?
2. The state of your new space. Does it already have the infrastructure in place to support your network and your desired office layout, including Internet and cabling? Will you need to build out a server room? Is the conference room going to be properly configured to have all of the capabilities you’ll need to conduct meetings?
3. How much of the move you’re outsourcing. Will your IT team need to follow you from site to site to physically move your equipment, or can staff members do that? Do you have someone in-house who could set up your workstations?
4. Your existing equipment. Are you simply transplanting equipment, or will you also need to purchase new hardware? (Note: We don’t recommend combining large-scale upgrade projects with move projects unless absolutely necessary, since doing so can make it difficult to isolate the source of issues that arise.)
Ultimately, the more moving pieces involved in your project, the more labor will be required to get the job done right, and the more you’ll need to invest.
What is the single most effective way to keep your costs down?
Plan, plan, and plan some more. Plan far in advance, and plan every single detail down to what side your attorneys and staff will want their monitors on at their new desks (seriously).
Internet Service Providers typically need a minimum of 90 days to transplant your connection from one place to another. All of your contractors (IT, electrical, cabling, moving, general) need advanced notice to schedule their necessary resources, and should all be involved from the start of the project to allow for proper coordination and collaboration (i.e., who is doing what?).
What is the average price range for law firm office moves?
Without any hardware upgrades or last-minute coordination, the average IT portion of an office move will cost a 50-person law firm from $7,500 to $12,500. You’ll need to separately engage other companies to take care of cabling and Internet—your IT team will likely have partners or recommended firms to offer, but generally don’t do this work themselves.
If you wait too long, be prepared to rack up a mess of charges for expedited shipping, for after-hours/weekend labor rates, and for re-doing rushed jobs down the road. We, for example, have seen a simple cabling job cost a client of ours almost $40,000 because the process was sped up to a painful degree. (This is not to mention the cost of moving the rest of their IT infrastructure, and the headache of the whole ordeal.)
Beyond increasing your costs exponentially, the bigger risk here is for hiccups to lead to downtime when your team enters your new space; while you might be able to afford some higher rates, you certainly cannot afford for all of your attorneys to be twiddling their thumbs because they are unable to work properly.
But there is good news: while there are many factors in play with office moves, you don’t have to go it alone–your IT provider will be able to look at your systems and give you a customized labor and cost estimate ahead of time, along with a detailed implementation plan.
Office moves may not be a fun experience, but with the right partners, both your costs and your stress levels can be kept to a minimum.