When your company needs to move from one office complex to another, it doesn’t matter whether you move a few blocks or across the country. The process stays the same and, in this article, we’ll explain the process of moving a business. In some ways, it bears close similarity to moving from one home to another, but in other ways, such as information technology requirements, it differs.
Make a Plan
As soon as you realize or learn that you will need to move offices, start planning the move. Ideally, provide your company with four to six months of planning time, so you can address each step in detail. Create two floorplan maps, one of your current layout, and one of the new office space. Set deadlines for each task, so every department knows what’s expected of them and when.
Designate a moving manager within your business, someone who will remain in charge of every aspect of the project. Provide this individual with the authority to make and execute decisions and the proper resources to do so. Having a single point person who can answer all questions and make unilateral decisions speeds up the process and makes things easier for all employees.
Set the Moving Budget
Unless your business makes this move as a part of its growth plan, you might find it a surprise. When setting a budget, because this line item probably doesn’t appear in your typical operating budget, consider using part of your discretionary fund. If you make a local move, contact the most experienced commercial movers for estimates to find the local moving company you will hire. Getting these estimates can provide the ballpark for the packing, transportation, and unpacking of your business equipment, files, etc.
For long distance moving, consult Angi or a similar service to identify appropriate commercial movers that handle the size and type of move your company needs to make. Some moving firms only handle local moves, some tackle regional ones, and others specialize in coast-to-coast moves. Avoid sites like Thumbtack because they’re geared toward local semi-professional tradespeople and residential work.
Consider other moving line items, too. You’ll need to hire a local office cleaning service to deep clean your current offices after you move everything out of them, then someone to clean the new offices to prepare them for your entry. Use the same company for local moves, but you’ll need two different firms for a long-distance move.
Rid your office of old equipment that no longer works before moving. This may require paying a disposal fee to the local dump or to the movers. Moving time provides an ideal opportunity to replace outdated equipment, too. Bundle it with the outdated equipment going to the dump, and budget for new equipment, too.
Budget for locksmith services, new office furniture, blinds, and curtains, etc. It rarely happens that the new office offers the precise measurements of the old one, so in all likelihood, your business will need to buy new interior design items. Consider how much of your discretionary funds you can devote to these items, but also understand that your new space needs to provide a professional environment that welcomes your staff and clients.
Every company differs, so consider your office processes and procedures, plus manufacturing needs, if any. Make a list of staff who have their own office, and consider the number of cubicles needed, if your office uses those in its configuration. If you use cubicles, add a line item for office cubicle installation. Go through the office in such a manner, creating a list of special items like the cubicles that require a professional to break them down, then reassemble them in the new space.
Include the IT Team
Meet with your IT team early in the process because they will need to identify new providers for the Internet, servers, etc. if you move long distance. This department will also require early access to the new offices, so they can install infrastructure, such as phone drops, smart outlets, LAN connection points, the server room, etc. The IT team will also need to manually back up each local machine or show employees how to do so, then disassemble every computer system, pack them, then reassemble them at the new location. Have them order the equipment that will replace what you send to the disposal site, then have the replacement equipment shipped directly to your new office space.
Communicate News of the Move to Employees
Share the news of your impending move as soon as possible with your employees. This gets them on board and excited about the new space, and it builds trust. Avoid springing the move on them because that will create chaos and hurt your business. Share the details of the new location with them as soon as you receive them, including:
- New address
- Updated phone and fax numbers
- New building rules or security changes
- Packing rules
- Moving related deadlines.
Make each employee part of the process by having each person create a personal moving plan for their desk or office. This empowers each employee by making them a part of the larger process and ensuring that the person who knows the most about their workstation writes the task list for moving.
Inventory Current Office Items
Create a comprehensive inventory of office equipment, furnishings, window treatments, etc. This step can come before you dispose of unneeded items, so it helps identify them, or it can come after you’ve gotten rid of what you do not need. Have each individual create an inventory of their office or workstation, then have each department head check it. As a final step, have the moving manager review all inventory lists and create a master list.
Schedule Moving Days
Relocation takes time, so close your office to clients for packing day, transportation time, and unpacking day. Ideally, you only need to close on a Friday and Monday to carry out the move, because long-distance moving companies transport items on the weekends, too. Schedule project deadlines and client meetings appropriately, so you can easily adjust to the new surroundings before needing to do typical day-to-day work.
Inform clients, contractors, vendors, etc. well in advance of the move. Convey your new contact information as soon as possible. Order your new envelopes, letterhead, mailing labels, and business cards a few weeks in advance of the physical move. Update your website with the new contact information on the morning of the day the movers pick up your office items.
Pack the Office
Have employees pack their own space a little bit at a time, at least a week in advance of the move. Each person should pack their own personal items and move them. The licensed moving company your business hires should only move the business’ property. Mark each box with the new office number and a content description, so each box goes to the correct room when the movers take it inside.
Everything should be packed properly and ready to go the day before the movers arrive. Have the moving manager conduct a review of the entire office if reasonable. With a large-scale, corporate move, have each department head conduct a review of the packing process, and then report their results to the moving manager. Each department head should address employees or managers who have not finished packing by the day before the movers arrive.
Schedule Early Access Needs
Many individuals will need to access your company’s new location before you move into it. The list of these moving partners includes your own IT staff, the deep cleaning crew with which you contract, and any interior designers you hire to create a professional office environment. If your company will move into its own building, consider hiring pressure cleaning contractors, also called pressure washers, to clean the exterior of the building. The new location’s curb appeal matters just as much as the interior of the offices in creating a professional environment.
Turn on the Utilities
Carefully plan your utility changeover. In a local move, you will only need to amend your service address, but you will need to ensure that your current office maintains electricity, water, etc. until you finish moving out, and the deep cleaning crew finishes its work. In a long-distance move, have the utilities turned on in time for the early access contractors to do their work, especially your IT staff. Have someone physically check the new offices before the contractors arrive, so you don’t pay for their time when they can’t do their work.
Hold a Smooth Moving Day
Although you won’t meet with clients or submit projects on moving day, every employee needs to show up to monitor the loading of their workstation or office. Once their area goes into the moving van, they can head over to the new office if it’s a local move. If you’re making a long-distance move, consider letting each individual clock out after their area gets loaded, so they can begin their own travels, or finish packing their home.
Once you’ve chosen movers, schedule the moving process with them as far in advance as possible. Inform them of any impending deadlines that cannot be rescheduled and require a fixed arrival date on their part. While residential movers don’t typically schedule hard, fixed deadlines for delivery, professional commercial movers do.
Coordinate Travel Plans
In cases of long-distance moves, even though every individual will handle their own personal move, each should provide the dates they will leave the current city and their arrival date in the new location. Everyone should arrive at the new location by the scheduled move-in day and time. That ensures that each employee shows up to work at the start of the business day on the move-in day to take possession of the boxes and equipment that belong to their workstation or office. The moving manager should create a master list of everyone’s departure and arrival times and dates.
The big day arrives, and you meet the movers at the door of your new offices. Excitement builds as the movers enter with furniture and the first few labeled boxes of files and equipment. Make placing the right furniture and boxes in the correct offices simpler by printing a large copy of the floorplan map with each room number clearly marked and hanging it in the front reception area. As soon as they enter, they’ll see the office number on the map that corresponds to the box’s number.
Although IT will have installed outlets and phone drops ahead of time, they’ll need to set up each computer system. They’ll need to remain flexible as to which office they set up, according to which boxes the movers bring in first. Typically, the first items brought in consist of those last packed into the moving van. If you need a specific unpacking order, so you can set up critical systems and high-priority offices first, you’ll need to ensure that you have the movers packing those offices last when you leave the old offices.
Unpack and Organize
Enjoy your casual Monday in the office with everyone unpacking their boxes and settling into their new digs. Plan ahead to make things easier for your staff by taking care of the necessities for them, such as ensuring that the cleaning staff sets up the bathrooms ahead of the move-in day. Knowing that there’s plenty of toilet paper, soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, and hand lotion will go a long way toward making everyone’s first day feel more comfortable.
Serve breakfast and lunch at the office. Consider bagels, cream cheese, and lox with coffee and tea for breakfast. These delicious items also provide tasty snacks when staff need a mid-morning break or something to munch on while they unpack. Have a local caterer or restaurant provide a buffet lunch with options for meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans, and those who must eat a sugar-free or gluten-free diet.
Opening the Office and Celebrating
It might seem daunting to move from one office to another, but creating a plan for it and sticking to it makes it easier. Following this plan should provide your company with a relatively peaceful, uneventful first day of regular business. You’ll provide a professional environment for your staff, clients, and vendors. Host a celebration at the end of the first week at your new offices to treat your staff to a well-deserved welcome to their new company headquarters.