A practical -and practically painless- approach to relocating your business

Who among us hasn’t experienced the stress of packing all of our belongings, pulling up stakes and moving from one home to another? Moving to a new home may be exciting, but it’s stressful, too. The organizing, the packing, the living out of boxes for days if not weeks – few of us recall the details of any moving day fondly.

Now imagine being in charge of moving an entire business – with dozens or hundreds of employees. On the one hand, you may be moving to a fabulous new office or a larger space, which will make your life easier in the long run. On the other hand, you’re now faced with the task of packing up an entire office, explaining details of the move to co-workers, coordinating data and telecommunication needs with outside providers, and continuing with business as usual.

A challenge? Absolutely. But office relocation doesn’t have to cause unnecessary disruptions to you, your co-workers or your business. It’s true. After all, the Schroeder Companies have been helping people move since 1948. And what we’ve learned, we’ve shared with all of our clients: preparation is key to streamlined and successful office relocations.

Plan, plan…then plan again!
Once you select your moving contractor, get them involved in the planning process as early as possible. An experienced contractor will be an invaluable source for advice on preliminary steps you can take to make sure your move gets pulled off efficiently and painlessly. And many relocation contractors will be happy to provide you with a Project Manager to help with the planning.

Ideally, one person within your organization should be put in charge of the move. This person will function as the main contact with the moving contractor, as well as all other parties assisting with the move. In larger organizations that person may require some additional help. So it might be worthwhile exploring the creation of a moving committee made up of individuals from each department or area. Individual committee members are then responsible for identifying items to be moved, and they can act as that area’s “go to” person for questions or issues arising from the move.

Getting from here to there.
The proposed layout of your new space is a great place to begin your planning. First identify where everyone will be located. Then determine where the furnishings will go and how they’ll fit. After all, the move really isn’t complete until every last computer monitor is plugged in and every paper clip is in its proper place.

Become familiar with the different methods of moving contents. Available options range from basic boxes, to rolling crates and book carts. Once the size and scope of the move is identified, your moving contractor will help identify which method(s) will work best for your move.

Success is in the details.
If you are moving into a new building that is still under construction, make sure construction work is scheduled for completion before your scheduled move-in date. This may sound obvious, but it is essential to keep your lines of communication open with building contractors. Demand frequent and detailed updates as the build-out is completed.

Be sure to get phone and data needs taken care of up front. Phone and data contractors must have a firm understanding of when your move is taking place. Follow up with them often and secure their assurances (in writing if possible) that they will be there precisely when they’re needed. The last thing you want on the day of your move is to have the phone company tell you they had an emergency and they won’t have a crew to you for a couple of days.

Get organized
Long before moving day arrives, you’ll want to conduct several walks through your facility to identify what is moving and what is getting tossed. Use color-coded moving labels to identify those items that are moving as you walk thru. The reason for doing more than one walk thru is so you don’t miss anything. Start this process early so you can properly configure you new space.

Become thoroughly familiar with the layout of your new building, visit the site as often as you can and try to identify anything that may cause problems the day of your move. Take note of methods of egress and degress, door size, elevators vs. stairs (stairs will require a more labor-intensive move).

Hold meetings with your entire staff. Your moving company should be happy to facilitate these sessions for you. Meetings can be held in small or large groups. And be sure to prepare a handout for each employee with instructions describing how to pack their areas and how to label their area and belongings.

Pack it up!
Before you pack – PURGE! It will feel great to get rid of a lot of the clutter in the back of your closets and file drawers. Plus, you’ll have that much less to unpack when you get to your new location.

Don’t forget about all the odds and ends you will have to move – your kitchen, supply room, wall art, etc. If there are any items that can be packed up prior to the day before your move, do it. It is one less thing you’ll have to think about as the move approaches.

Chances are, with the help of your moving contractor, you have already decided which packing method to use. At Schroeder, we recommend the use of wheeled book carts and moving crates. They’re easy to load and easy to transport. Plus, they accommodate a lot of “stuff” so you can keep all your files in nice, neat order. Some crates even have file bars just like file drawers! Tools like these can make it easy to work with a temporary set up – both immediately prior to and immediately after the move.

Moving day
On the day of your move plan to have your IT personnel and the phone company in your building when all employees are present. Have everyone hook up their phones and computers and test them out before they leave. This way, problems can be addressed immediately and you can avoid unnecessary down time once you arrive at the new location.

Also arrange to have a contact from your firm at both locations to answer questions from the moving contractor and your employees.

And be sure you and your staff get out of the way and let your moving contractor do the job. Too often during a relocation, employees will walk around your new and old location and cause unnecessary delays by getting in the way of the movers.

Don’t allow people to unpack at the new location until the move is complete. This makes it much easier to account for all items included in the move. Then set a deadline for you staff to be unpacked and stick to it. You don’t want to be living out of crates for two weeks (or even up to a couple of months!).

Your moving contractor can provide a few members of its personnel to be present as your staff begins to unpack, you will find them helpful in final furniture placement and removing empty moving equipment from you new location.

Bonus
Use your move as an opportunity to upgrade! If your office has not been remodeled since 1985, it might be a great time to look into new furnishings to make your space more efficient. Your office environment is already going to be disrupted, which is half the battle of a “renovation.” There are all sorts of pricing options available to fit into any budget. A new, updated space is sure to make your new home even more exciting, and in most cases more productive.

The key to a successful move is thorough planning, including how the plan will affect employees both before the move and afterwards. And of course, key to that planning is identifying a moving contractor who understands the details involved in helping a company achieve a successful move – without unnecessary disruption to its business or its employees.