Office relocation planning

How to Plan for an Office Move

It’s difficult enough to keep business productivity high in your office on a normal day. But what about when you’re trying to move your office from one location to another?

During an office move, stress levels shoot up for the whole staff. They’re trying to get work done amid distractions and potentially a lot of confusion. And company leaders have even more to worry about: the move can threaten a business’ bottom line in several ways.

Moving fees are expensive on their own, but lost productivity from an ill-planned move can lead to missed deadlines and damaged client relationships. And if you don’t plan properly, move-related disruptions could continue to haunt your company for months. Just a few examples: Delayed deliveries and invoices because they were sent to the wrong address, misplaced office property (physical and intellectual), and disgruntled team members who don’t have the tools they need in their new offices.

Assuming you’ve already found the perfect space for your new business, it’s time to nail down the logistics of how to get your company moved in — as smoothly as possible.

Designate a Point Person

The first thing to do when starting to plan the moving process is determining who’s going to be in charge.

Moving requires a years-long commitment and plenty of big-picture thinking about the company’s long-term goals. An office move also ties into the company’s brand image and has a big impact on budgets and productivity levels. So, it makes sense that company leaders want to be intimately involved with the moving process.

However, moving can become a big distraction, and leaders need to keep their hands on the steering wheel of the company to keep productivity levels high. They need a designated move point person, just like they’d have with any other high-stakes business project, who can meet with them regularly to brief them on progress, ask them for approval on some of the bigger questions, and keep things moving along on schedule.

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Some companies choose to assign the “moving manager” job to an internal staffer, such as an administrator or a project manager. Some even seek out office move experts, sometimes called “change managers,” to play this role. The keys are that they are responsible, detail-oriented, able to take initiative, and have the ability to prioritize this project over the rest of their other workload.

The company point person can then assemble a team of their own to carry out the rest of the move. The team might include a moving company, a real estate broker, design consultants, and reps from the IT and HR departments.

Assess Employee Needs and Wants

Part of what makes moves so stressful for employees is that they’re often kept out of the loop.

As change manager Angie Lee writes in this column, you can get proactive with combating the negative feelings and apprehension surrounding the move by getting employees involved as early as possible.

Staff should be surveyed and interviewed about their office needs, including “mobility, work style, workplace support, workplace needs, storage and technology.” Employees may have special requests for things like noise level, privacy level, meeting space, or proximity to other people or departments.

Office relocation planning

The move manager should have a deep understanding of what each employee wants and needs in their new workspace so that expectations can be managed.

Morale and productivity will certainly suffer if your employees haven’t bought into the move. There are many ways they can get disillusioned: They may feel that their new space doesn’t reflect their status in the company, or doesn’t allow them to do their jobs well, or is somehow a downgrade from their old office.

If you can get ahead of these feelings as much as possible, you can minimize disruption to morale.

Make a Master Plan

The move manager needs to have a master plan that can easily be shared with company leaders and the rest of the staff. This plan should make it easy to see when tasks need to be completed, who is responsible for completing each one, and other project updates.

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It may help to use a project management tool that your staff already uses internally so it’s even easier for everyone to collaborate and stay informed. You can start with a template like this or this, which get detailed about exactly which tasks are important.

Logistical needs for office moves will vary based on the size of the company, the number of in-office employees, and what type of office the company is moving into. Smaller companies might simply move into a new turnkey office rental, for example, while big corporations might construct an entire building.

But after your initial employee research is finished, the master plan will probably include some combination of the following tasks:

  • Create / review the move budget
  • Create a communications plan to keep employees informed regularly
  • Create an inventory of furniture and equipment (including hardware and software)
  • Find a moving company
  • Consult with potential interior designers / architects
  • Notify vendors, clients and other partners about the impending move and new address
  • Create and finalize a new seating plan for the office
  • Finalize the move-day schedule
  • Order boxes and moving supplies
  • Order new company stationary / business cards / brochures / marketing materials if necessary
  • Make sure the office is move-in ready (internet working, mailing address forwarding set up)
  • Make sure everything is running (electricity, internet, etc.) at the new office space well before move-in day
  • Stock coffee / snacks refreshments in the new office prior to moving day
  • Change official mailing address
  • Create a moving day timeline with the help of your moving company
  • Give employees instructions on how and when to access the new office, including how and where to park
  • Designate responsibility for moving specific physical items (for example, when will employees clean out their desks? Will they transport their own computers?)
  • Redirect phone numbers
  • Collect old keys and issue new ones
  • Update the company website, online maps listings (such as Google Maps), company email signatures, and anywhere else the old address appears
  • Check the old office for left-behind items and make sure it’s completely cleaned out
  • Create “welcome packages” for employees at their new desks and add touches to make moving day a positive experience

Office moves aren’t simple, and they’re rarely cheap. But done right, they’re still a great investment. The time and energy spent moving to a better office location can pay off in better productivity, more energy, and better recruiting and retention. An office move may also serve as a catalyst for other cultural changes you’ve been wanting to make. There’s nothing like completely shaking up an office environment to get everyone thinking in a new way.

Office moves aren’t simple, and they’re rarely cheap. But done right, they’re a great investment. #receptionistapp Click To Tweet

Interested in further reading on how you can make your office a great place to work? Check out these articles:

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