It’s claimed that moving house is behind only divorce and bereavement in terms of stress. Well, now imagine that dozens – or even hundreds – of people are moving house at once. That gives an idea of the magnitude that awaits when preparing an office move. Thankfully, with appropriate planning, any difficulties can be minimised – or even outright eradicated.
An office move will always be a sizable undertaking, but it can also be an exciting occasion. As well as the buzz of a new location, it’s a great chance to shed anything unnecessary. If you’ve always dreamed of a paper-free office, relocation is the ideal opportunity to achieve this.
Throughout this guide, we’ll offer guidance to office managers, operation directors and business owners that are planning a move – along with a helpful checklist to ensure that nothing slips through the net. In the meantime, read on to learn how to plan the perfect office move.
Find a new office location
First thing’s first. If you’re thinking about moving your office location, you’ll need a new destination in mind. Many factors will play into choosing an office location, so do not rush this choice.
The main thing to consider is how much disruption the move will impose on your team. For example, if your current workplace has a free car park, aim to replicate this in the new location. Employees will understandably be annoyed at the idea of paying substantial fees to pay-and-display.
Equally, think about your employees that rely upon public transport to get to and from work. If they need to catch a bus home, choosing a location that has limited or no service after 5pm will cause no end of trouble.
Review the expenses
Once you have found a new location, crunch some numbers and ensure that your business can sustain the expenses involved.
Rent and utility expenses are the primary ongoing concerns, but do not overlook the initial costs involved in an office fit-out. Find the best way to finance these steps without risking your revenue streams.
Announce your office move
Once the decision is made – though ideally not before an iron-clad contract is in place, lest somebody involved in the process changes their mind – announce the impending move to your team.
It’s an open secret that many employees dislike change. Announcing an office move, and all the disruption that comes with it, will likely lead to at least some grumbling. If you make the announcement early, though, employees will have plenty of time to adjust their expectations accordingly.
If employees decide they do not want to be part of the move, it’s also better to inform them in plenty of time. You’ll have enough on your hands during the physical relocation. A raft of resignations amid the project will just add to your workload.
Pull together a moving task force
Office moves typically fall exclusively within the remit of an office manager, operations director, or other senior administrative team members. This approach makes sense, as people in such roles often have experience in office relocations – and the organisational skills to make the process as smooth as possible.
One person can only do so much though. The burden of an office move can grow overwhelming for one employee. It’s advisable to pull together a committee of team members to drive the project. Ideally, these will be volunteers. As a business leader, you may need to step in if nobody raises their hand!
The benefits of the committee approach are two-fold. Firstly, as discussed, it reduces the risk of one person handling the entire move. Even the most reliable and agreeable admin staff get sick or have family emergencies – what will you do if the only person managing the project cannot attend work?
Equally, a committee means that your employees will feel actively involved in the decision-making process. Your team will consider their voices heard and their wishes for the new office respected. This will, in turn, reduce any sense of disgruntlement associated with the relocation.
Plan a new office layout
Take a look at how much space your new office offers and how much furniture you’ll need to fit in. These logistics may dictate how you arrange your new working environment. Alternatively, see if your new landlords will pre-arrange desks. Some property owners will offer this service to attract commercial tenants.
You can also involve your moving committee here to consider where to place employees. Inviting an open forum can complicate things. You may find that Jane does not want to sit next to Peter because he has a loud telephone voice, Peter does not want to sit next to Mary because she has a personal heater that he finds too hot, and Mary does not want to sit next to John because he never takes his turn to make tea for everybody. Office politics will always pose an issue!
On the other hand, inviting feedback from the ‘shop floor’ can also benefit your business. Happy employees are more efficient and likelier to show loyalty to your company. As a result, there could be sizable gains made by considering the wishes of your team members when assigning desks and seating in a new location.
Conduct a full audit of your existing office
Take a walk around your office, and at every turn ask yourself a simple question – “does this need to come with us?”
Some things will be essential. Unless they are part of the building rental agreement, you’ll likely need to move any furnishings. Computers, landline telephones and anything similar will also need to come with you. If it’s not critical to the running of your business though, think twice about packing something.
Dispose of anything unnecessary
The next step is very straightforward. If something does not need to come with you to your new office, trash, archive, recycle or shred it. Remember, this move is a chance to unburden your office of clutter. A substantial clear-out will feel liberating.
You’ll likely need to keep some paperwork, especially anything pertaining to finance. Encourage your team to be ruthless though. Printouts of old emails, several drafts of work before a client signed it off, materials are replicated and stored digitally … these are not going to enhance the running of your business in a new location.
Arrange movers and cleaners
It’s unlikely that you’re going to want to physically move the furniture from one office to another by yourself. Equally, you’ll need to leave your location spick-and-span. Unless you like the idea of pushing a hoover around and polishing every available surface, hire professional cleaners and moving teams ASAP.
Pack up the existing office and back up digital files
Encourage your team to pack their desks and belongings, ideally before the last day of trading in your old office. Insist that cleaners will throw away anything not housed in a box to ensure that people take the time to pack up appropriately! Have these boxes labelled with the employee’s name to be distributed in the new office.
Your final act in an existing office is to prevent any IT drama when you move. Bring in a specialist and ensure that all digital files and documents are backed up, whether to an external hard drive or a reliable cloud service. This way, your team will be able to get up and running again ASAP in their new surroundings.
Prepare the new office
Finally, set up the new office for use ahead of the first day. That means ensuring that all furniture is in place according to the seating plan you devised in step 4, internet connections are live, and landline telephone extensions connect to the appropriate desk. Employees can unpack their possessions – this is why labelling each box by name is so important.
This can be a lot of work, so consider bringing in external support for this task. Give serious consideration to a full, professional office fit-out, as this will benefit your business greatly. Embarking on a full fit-out will provide your new office with a clear and distinct identity, bringing an immediate and comforting familiarity to employees. Imperial are proficient and experienced in office fit-outs, so feel free to seek help and support in this critical time. We can provide your business with ideas and suggestions for a layout that enhances and encourages productivity.
If you follow these steps, you’ll be ready for your new office – and to enjoy a smooth transition from your existing workplace to this new locale. Download and complete the checklist below to make your move as straightforward as possible. Imperial will always be ready to hear from you if you need our assistance.