In 2017, we moved to a new building. We’d like to use our transition as an example in breaking down our experience with project management & office moves. Our hope is that, by reading this, you can avoid learning some of these lessons the hard way. In this installment of the blog series, we outline how to go about preparing for office relocation: what do you need from your personnel? Your office movers? More importantly, what do they need from you?
Your Responsibilities as Office Relocation Coordinator
One of the most crucial responsibilities inherent to coordinating an office relocation is facilitating communication.
Encourage executives/top management to keep visibility as high as possible and try to update employees regularly – weekly “move status” meetings afford the opportunity to gather employee feedback and avoid ill-drawn conclusions about the fate of a position or the organization. That brings up a key point for emphasis: while you’ve likely made an exhaustive effort to get buy-in from the staff, you won’t be able to make everyone happy. Take it in stride, but definitely not personally.
If you’ve selected a site for your new office, you’ve probably done a fair amount to prepare for your business relocation. Now, it’s time to get your office and all parties involved ready to physically move. This involves employees, assets and the relocation company.
Another key responsibility of the move coordinator is to lead by example and keep everyone relaxed. Answer as many questions as you can, and record the ones you can’t. Reissue all key communications, instructions, and deadlines just before move prep. Make sure there’s a designated recipient of post-move discrepancies, and that everyone knows who that person is. Make an effort to bring your people together and generate excitement about completing the transition. Have a pizza party on move day. Compile a list of restaurants and other attractions local to the new facility. Thank them for their hard work – preparation for business moves is tough, and you’re not the only one having a hard time.
- Move Team & Contacts: Designate members of your move team to handle specific aspects of the office relocation and provide a list to the whole staff of pertinent contacts, internal and external, to field questions during the move.
- Move Schedule: Communicate move dates and packing deadlines as far ahead as possible, and keep employees abreast of changes to the relocation plan. The relocation process is fluid, so you’ll have to find the best way to allay people’s concerns over uncertainty.
- Purging Process: determine what files need to come to the new workspace, consolidate and dispose of excess. Leverage your organization’s digital capability – the more physical material moved, the more billable hours for your movers.
- Packing Protocol:
- Provided with moving containers, clear out desk and collect personal items to be transferred individually or taken home. Pack office contents in moving containers
- Make separate arrangements for the transportation of plants – most office movers consider them too high a liability
- Label furniture, moving containers, IT devices and other items with name, number of items (“1 of 5”), and destination at the new facility
- Leave IT and telecommunications devices, office furniture, artwork and fragile items – these are items best handled by data vendors, furniture installers, and professional movers, respectively
- Office moves don’t need heroes – leave the heavy lifting to office movers. Consolidate your materials, and be conscientious of everyone’s safety by leaving high-traffic areas free of clutter
- Equipment: your office equipment is the real MVP. Designate a move team member to check for adequate insurance coverage, consolidate manuals and warranty info, and coordinate with vendors & your office movers to plan for disconnection, preparation, transportation and installation. Your designated employee should also make provisions at new space for power/cabling.
- Furniture: while you’ve likely figured out what furniture will fill your space, office moves are the ideal time to conduct an inventory of your assets, determine if anything’s needed & order replacement parts. Make sure you’ve vetted your office movers’ installation capabilities – can they handle the wiring of electrified systems furniture? Do they have prior experience with your furniture’s manufacture? It’s hard to know what you need beyond the preparation, disassembly, transportation and installation of your office furniture. That’s why, in the spirit of shameless self-promotion, we encourage looking to the people who handle office furniture all day, every day.
- Information Technology: in today’s fast-paced, data-driven business landscape, less than diligent move preparation in the area of IT can have painful repercussions – lost data & extended downtime causing lost revenue.
- Before anything else, perform a comprehensive backup, determine who you need to involve & how, and formulate a disaster plan for conducting business without your systems
- Be proactive in updating digital location information and having a plan for forwarding communications during inevitable downtime
- Organize, tie off & label equipment cables, power cords, and phone wiring to ease the installation process, and make provisions for cabling/power at new facility ahead of moving offices
Your Office Movers
- Scope of Your Move: first, outline the entire process of your business move. Determine what needs to be managed by vendors (IT & office equipment), what you will delegate internally and expect individual staff members to be responsible for, and what’s left for the office relocation service.
- Finding Office Movers: you know what you’re looking for – time to make a list of prospective office movers. Start with locality, specialty, and references. Create a format for comparison, making sure that you’re comparing “apples to apples” when evaluating.
- Selecting the Right Office Relocation Provider: Once you’ve narrowed your list to a few “best fit” moving companies, get a detailed proposal from the movers. You need a consistent, thorough outline of how prospective office movers will handle your unique needs. What’s covered by the movers’ insurance policy, and what is the procedure for filing claims? What processes do they have for handling IT and fragile items? Will they provide protective floor/wall coverings, moving containers or packing materials?
CALL THE REFERENCES – previous experience is a valuable indicator for quality, and an inexpensive way to save time and money up front. Don’t buy on price alone – relocation companies bill hourly, and scope & pricing creep are common, so a movers’ estimate may actually be a low bid to lure you into an agreement
Once a decision has been made, get your office movers pertinent information on the new facility: master layout and labeling system, accessibility and hours, loading docks and freight elevator, etc. Perform a site walkthrough with representatives from the new facility and moving company, making record of special considerations/hazards/prior damage. Schedule quickly, and as far ahead of the actual move date as possible. It’s gametime. The end is near. Are you ready? Is your team?
Thanks for Reading!
This piece examines major considerations to be made when preparing for your office relocation. Looking for something a little more in-depth? We’ve poured 50+ years collective experience in project management and commercial relocation into one robust resource – click the link below to receive your complete whitepaper for “Surviving the Move”!