Planning an Office Move
A Guide to Successfully Plan Your Office Relocation
An office move provides a rare opportunity: the ability expand crowded quarters, update facilities with new equipment and new technologies, and reorganize your company to better reflect your current workflow and organization. It’s also a ton of work. If approached correctly, right from the start, it doesn’t have to be a daunting, overwhelming experience.
With proper timing, planning, and the right people working with you, many rough spots can be avoided and all the beneficial potential of a move will become reality, making this a positive experience – helping your company and your employees grow.
1. Establish key dates
The best time to start planning your move is as soon as possible. It’s like a large jigsaw puzzle, and the more time you have to put all the pieces together, the better. The time your move requires depends on the size and complexity of your office. A good rule of thumb is:
- Small offices – 3 months
- Medium offices 6-8 months
- Large commercial facilities: 1-2 years
Key dates depend on several things:
- When must you vacate your current space / when does your current lease expire?
- When can you gain access to your new space / when can you sign the lease?
- The start and finish dates of a build-out if needed.
2. Find Your New Space
Some things to consider:
- Depending on the size of your move, bringing in outside experts can be very helpful assisting with considerations such as site surveys, space planning, reviewing your current head-count and facilities, evaluating your technology needs, etc.
- How much space do you need? Determine how much space per person is required, plus common areas such as meeting rooms, break rooms, etc.
- Location – Is the new space accessible for your staff and clients? Consider issues such as parking, access to public transportation, and local amenities.
- Negotiating the lease: are the lease length and terms amenable to your business requirements? Having a qualified lawyer review the lease before signing can prevent being locked into an agreement that is not satisfactory to your business needs and goals.
- Does the office need to be built out? If so, you will need an architect and/or Office Space Planner. This needs to be factored into the schedule as well as the budget.
3. Appoint a Project Manager and Create a Team
- Small projects may require only 1 individual, usually a manager.
- Medium and large projects need one individual to head the team and act as the over-all move coordinator. This person will need the authority to speak for the company, have the organizational skills to handle a complex project, and be able to make decisions, some last minute, that are part of a relocation.
Your team should consist of a representative from each department/area of the business. That person must have the authority to ensure all employees in their area adhere to the plan according to the schedule. They need an in-depth knowledge of their departments and its specific needs. Input from a every area in the organization is important to identify strengths in the current set-up and ways to improve the layout and workflow for both their departments and the new facility as a whole.
The team must meet regularly – at least once a week further out and as time draws near bi-weekly, if not more as needed.
Consult upper level management to get their initial input. Many factors will go into the budget but it’s important to get a base number to work from. As you plan, you will be able to determine what critical needs must be accounted for. It will determine what services and equipment fit within the budget.
After determining what services and costs are must haves, revisit the budget to make sure it is in line with the reality of your move.
Hiring a full-service mover may seem more expensive at first, but by using one vendor for a host of services that are part of a relocation such as project planning, installing modular furniture, packing, and decommissioning your old space, you will experience a more efficient relocation, saving work and money in the long run.
5. Announce the move as early as possible
Provide everyone with as much detail as possible. Important things to include:
- A timetable for the move
- The new office location
- Amenities of the new building and the area in general: food services, gym rooms, parking, public transportation access, etc.
- Building security
- Why the move is happening
- What employees are expected to do at this point. That may be nothing, but it’s important to convey that as well
- Who to contact if they have questions or concerns – preferably a member of the moving team
- How and how-often they will receive information going forward; regular, on-going updates and announcements
It’s important at this point, to create a reliable way to communicate information that employees can count on. They need to be able to ask questions, find FAQ’s, and receive regular updates. It can be via face-to-face meetings, e-mails, internal blogs, intranets, or discussion forums, whatever works best for your organization’s culture.
6. Create a plan within your timeline:
Every office is different so your move plan will include items specific to your organization’s requirements. The timeline includes all the tasks that must be accomplished, when they must be done, and who is responsible for their completion. Plan for a little leeway if possible so unforeseen issues don’t set you back.
Two key points: don’t rush through the process and get plenty of input from your team. These will ensure no details are left out, downtime is kept to a minimum, and staying on time and within budget is easier. Doing these will guarantee the move proceeds much more smoothly.
Here are some time-relevant things to consider:
- Assign tasks to members of the move team. It is critical that each team member knows what tasks they are responsible for and their completion date. Weekly meetings will ensure these tasks are proceeding on time and will allow the team to address issues and refine the plan as needed.
- Begin to research movers. Meet with several companies, have them provide quotes, and check their references. Consider a full-service mover. They will streamline the process by handling many of the details for you and minimize the number of vendors involved. A full-service mover will provide you with a project manager who will be valuable partner throughout the process and will ensure an easy move where no detail is left to chance.
- Decide on the office mover that best meets your needs and your budget. It is never too early to get on their schedule. Since a full-service mover helps you manage the overall process, the earlier they come on board, the sooner you can benefit from their expertise and help.
- Depending on the requirements of your lease, inform your current building managers of your plans. Consult with them to work out details and requirements on the timing of your move, use of loading docks, etc.
- Create a list of all your customers. They will need to receive your new address and contact information.
- IT and telecommunications infrastructure: the head of your IT department is the logical person responsible for this task and should be a team member:
» Estimate your current use, future needs, and what exists or needs to be added to the new location.
» Assess your current technologies and evaluate upgrades to newest standards
» Inventory all your current technology: identify what will move with you and what will be replaced with updated equipment.
» If a new cabling infrastructure need to be installed, obtain quotes, select the vendor, and arrange for the work to be completed in time to perform testing a week or two prior to the move date.
» Contact phone and data service providers and arrange for the start of service at your new location and end of service at the old. Many providers require notice 90 days in advance.
Full-service movers offer disconnect-reconnect services ,for desktop technology. Consider using these services as the extreme demands to the IT department can be overwhelming.
- Inventory all existing furniture, create a detailed list of what will move, what will be replaced, and any new furniture needed.
- Create a list of all personnel making the move. Include positions that will be filled in order to create an accurate head count and space allocation.
- Purchase any new furniture, and technology equipment. Anything that is not needed prior to the relocation should be delivered the day after.
- Order updated business cards, stationary, marketing materials, etc.
- Announce the move to your customers, clients, and other business contacts. These announcements can be used as a PR campaign to reconnect with past customers and remind current ones of your services and/or products. Utilize both email and regular mail. Create a notification on your website.
- Begin regular meetings with your employees to update them on the overall progress and let them know what their responsibilities will be: packing their individual offices, filling out planning forms for the placement of their furniture, computers, phones, etc.
- Find organizations who sell used equipment and furniture or donate items that will not be making the move.
- Obtain necessary insurance. Make sure your current policy sufficiently covers the move in your old space and the new. Get insurance documentation from your movers. Many building managers require proof of this prior to the move.
- Transfer your utilities. Make sure there is an overlap to account for post-move issues at the old site and the new location is available for any pre-move work.
- Create a list of businesses, vendors, etc. who need to be informed of your move: post office, IRS, banks, vendors, etc.
- Review existing paper files: archive, digitize, or destroy as needed. Store digitized information to the cloud if you can for safe keeping.
- Re-announce the move to your customers, clients, and other business contacts. This bears repeating.
- Inform those on the list of businesses, and vendors you created last month of your move and provide them with your new address.
- Reserve dock and/or elevators with your building managers. Make sure you have any parking or moving permits needed.
- Create a move contact list. This includes all team members, moving company contacts, building management representatives at the old and new sites, IT personnel, and service providers. Give every team member has a copy.
- Make a moving information packet for your employees. This should include:
» Moving instructions that outline their responsibilities in detail
» Detailed time-frames for carrying those out
» A final schedule of the moving week
» Estimated network outages
» A layout of the new facility and the color coding/numbering plan for the move
» Forms where they can indicate the layout of their new office, etc.
» Tags for boxes and equipment
» Bubble wrap sleeves and electrostatic bagging for computers, phones, etc.
- Begin packing stored items such as archived files and common area items.
- Distribute final copies of the floor plan to the move team, the movers, and any service providers that need them. Post copies in prominent locations at the new site.
- Reconfirm the move date with all vendors involved. Provide the movers with all building rules (hours, elevator access, dock locations, parking locations and regulations, protection required for floors and walls, etc).
- Meet with your employees to go over packing guidelines and labeling. Disseminate the information packet. A full-service mover will have a representative at this meeting to give guidance, instruction, and answer questions.
- Obtain keys for all team members and other involved parties.
- Confirm build-out and all tech installation and cabling will be completed in time.
- Review the schedule with your mover. If you are using a full-service mover, go over the scheduling for each service you are using.
- Order boxes and crates.
- Complete modular furniture installation at the new site.
- The move team should walk through both the old and new site to clarify any last-minute details and instructions, and ensure everything is ready at the new space for the move-in.
- Hand out keys and/or access cards to all employees.
- Deliver boxes and crates to each employee so they may begin packing.
- Tag all furniture, equipment, and boxes/crates with their color code destination tags. Your mover will provide you with the color-coded tags and guide you and your team in their proper placement.
- Disconnect and clean all appliances (refrigerators, microwaves, etc).
- Test all office connectivity functions and address any issues.
- Post signage in both locations to indicate proper directions and important information.
- Assign a different team member to be at both ends on the move day to coordinate and handle things as they arise. Be clear that these are the only employees that should be on-site during the move. Too many unnecessary individuals are a security and safety risk and will slow down the progress of the move.
2 days prior:
- Hold a final employee meeting to review the process and go over any last-minute details and answer questions. Impress upon them the need to adhere to the schedule.
- Make final changes of address on the website and other on-line media as required (employee email signatures, directory listings, Google accounts, etc)
The day before:
- All employees must finish packing their offices, remove their personal items, and dispose of any trash. Large bins should be provided to accommodate this.
- Coordinators should walk through their assigned sections to ensure all common areas and offices are packed, everything is labeled correctly and ready for the move.
Day of the move
- The designated coordinators should be present at both sites prior to the arrival of the movers to ensure the movers and any other service providers have access to both sites. They should remain at both locations for the entire move.
- The coordinator at the old site should meet the movers and review schedules and last-minute details, and hand off any sets of keys they may need. Coordinators at both sites should point out any places where special protection of the building is required.
- Do a walk through with your mover after the move at both the old and the new location:
» At the old location – ensure nothing has been left behind and no new issues have arisen.
» At the new location – make sure everything has been delivered, placed properly, and assembled if needed.
- Make a list of any issues that need attending (punch list). Address as many as possible that day.
Day after the move
- Address any remaining issues on the list (punch list) from yesterday’s final walk through
- Decommissioning the old space:
» Remove cabling
» Repair damage to walls and carpets
» Clean space, paint walls if needed
» Do a final walk-through with the building manager
» Remove signage and move it to the new space if it will be re-used
A full service moving company offers decommissioning services. Provide them with a list of the tasks needed to return your old space back to the condition outlined in the lease. This saves you time and allows everyone to focus on the new.
- After decommissioning is complete, return keys, parking passes, security badges, etc. to the old building manager.
- Make sure a crew from the moving company is on-site to help with any small settling in tasks such minor adjustments to furniture, hanging art and white boards, removal of boxes etc.
- Hold a meeting with employees to review any information and protocols of the new building; parking, evening & weekend access if needed, emergency evacuation procedures, etc.
- Have a welcome celebration at this meeting! It is a great way for everyone to settle into the new space!
Headquartered in Massachusetts, Sterling serves all New England: New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, and Vermont
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