Managing an Office Relocation

Friday, June 15, 2012

The task of relocating an office can be overwhelming. If you are in charge, you face the challenges of planning and orchestrating the move, as well as communicating schedules, responsibilities and other pertinent information to the staff, all while minimizing disruptions to workflow. Critical to your success? Thoughtful planning.

Here are some important tips from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety to help you pull off this monumental feat:

Develop a timeline. As you think about all of the issues you need to address, map them out onto a schedule. Share this schedule with the staff, and keep everyone apprised of changes or adjustments as you go. In a perfect world, you will be able to schedule the move around a “slow time” in your business cycle.

Plan for your new space. As you envision your business in its new location, think about whether your existing furniture and equipment will continue to serve your needs or if it’s time to order different or additional pieces. It doesn’t make sense to move items that will not be useful in the new space. Consider donating unwanted items to charity.

At the new office, plan which offices will serve which functions, decide if walls or cubicles are preferable and determine the number and placement of electrical outlets, phone lines and computer connections. Review your emergency response and security policies to ensure they will be appropriate in the new facility. Inspect the entire space, paying particular attention to ventilation and accessibility.

Assign tasks to individuals. Employees should assume responsibility for preparing their own offices for the move by organizing their files and reference materials for packing, and taking their personal belongings home until after the move is complete. You might also want to assign certain individuals tasks related to cleaning up common areas within the office.

Address the physical hazards of moving. Take precautions to prevent slips, trips and falls due to randomly placed furniture, boxes and moving equipment, and keep corridors and hallways as free from clutter as possible. Also be aware that the use of certain cleaners and the displacement of dust may cause allergic reactions in some employees. 

To give you a more detailed look at the challenge you’re embarking upon, Highland Moving & Storage Ltd. offers this timeline checklist:

4 - 6 Months Out

  • Set your budget and the moving date.
  • Meet with the building manager.
  • Communicate plans to the staff.
  • Select contractors.
  • Obtain permits.
  • Order new phone and fax numbers.

2 - 4 Months Out

  • Hire movers.
  • Order new location signage.
  • Hire and schedule cleaning service.
  • Order Internet access and phone service.
  • Evaluate server room needs.
  • Design office space and layout.
  • Order needed furniture and equipment .

1 - 2 Months Out

  • Assign employees to new offices.
  • Have a clean-up/disposal day (or days).
  • Notify customers and service providers of address change.
  • Insure the new space.
  • Address new security system needs.
  • Order keys and access cards.
  • Order cheques and update financial information.

1 Month Out

  • Order utilities.
  • Update your Web site.
  • Order business cards and letterhead.
  • Reserve elevators and loading docks. 

2 Weeks Out

  • Tag and inventory furniture, computers and wall items.
  • Install phone system and assign numbers or extensions.
  • Share floor plan and review schedule with mover.
  • Update security systems.

1 Week Out

  • Pack common areas, desks and personal spaces.
  • Back up computers.
  • Distribute keys and security cards.
  • Label items with new location.
  • Assign staff to help direct movers.
  • Arrange catering for moving day.

Moving Day

  • Review floor plan.
  • Post signs to direct movers.
  • Establish a lost-and-found system.
  • Protect moving paths.
  • Clean out old office.