No business ever relocated successfully without a lot of careful thought and planning on the FM’s part. The role you play is crucial, because not only are you moving the company’s people and assets, you’re also responsible for maintaining the business’s operation throughout the move. To accomplish all of this, there are a few things you’ll need to manage the move and keep your sanity intact.
When you’re moving your office, the timing and execution are key—especially when it comes to keeping business going during the move. Some companies may choose to move during the weekends; others during off-hours and still others may do a combination of both. Regardless of how you choose to approach it, though, it’s important that you have a strategy so that the workflow isn’t disrupted.
How will the business operate during the move? Will certain employees work from home? Will you arrange a space where they can set up shop temporarily? How do client interactions figure into the equation? If you foresee a delay in business occurring on the day of the move, be sure to send an email to clients listing the dates that the company will have limited availability.
Moving can be a long and drawn-out process, so it’s important to keep the timing of your move in mind. So if there’s a certain time of year where you see less business than usual, that could be a good time to move. Plan to relocate during that time period to minimize interruptions to your work. If moving during a workday isn’t ideal, see if it’s possible to move after normal business hours, or plan to move during a weekend.
Packing up at the very last minute is a good way to insure a high-stress move. Encourage staff to pack up their non-essential items first—reference materials, office supplies, decorations, etc.—and clean out their desk areas several weeks ahead of the move. They should do this when they have some downtime, long before the move actually takes place. That way, you can avoid a situation where hours are lost on sorting, packing and throwing away items all in one go.
Since you’ll be moving in stages, it’s useful to update your team on the latest situation every few months or even weeks, depending on how soon you’re relocating. Early on, for example, you may want to discuss the reasons for the move, the projected timeline for moving and discuss whatever issues they’re facing in the current building. Later, when you reach the point where you have specific options in mind, show them the buildings you’re considering, discuss the pros and cons of each and ask for their feedback. These check-ins can be a valuable source of information throughout the move.
On the day(s) of the move, someone should be on site to let vendors into the building, answer questions from the move team and task forces and coordinate the day’s activities. The move coordinator should be well-informed about the building’s layout, the scheduled tasks for the day and who should be moving in where.
If you will be moving during a work day, tell your clients so that they know you won’t be available. Set up an email responder explaining what dates you’ll be out of the office. If you have a work cell, include it in the message so they can use it if something urgent comes up. If you won’t be retaining your old phone number, provide your new number and extension in this email, and also include the building’s new mailing address.
Sometimes, even the best-laid plans may go awry. For example, IT consulting firm Integrated Technology Systems wrote on its blog about a hiccup in their relocation when their Internet installation service was accidentally cancelled. They had their engineers work remotely, while office staff used their cell phones and 4G hotspots. Just in case a similar problem pops up, you may want to have a contingency plan of your own. For example, if the move-in is delayed by several days, you may want to have a list of coworking spaces where staff can operate in the meantime.
If you have the resources to keep the move organized, you’ll be able to keep track of what’s where without missing a beat in your work. Using OfficeSpace software, Young & Rubicam was able to move their 1,800-person office into the new building over a span of four weekends. Our software makes it easy to keep your assets in order by letting you quickly look over maps of your building.
Once all the furniture and people are settled in the new building, orient your coworkers to the new building with welcome packets. These should include information on any new procedures, like parking in designated areas, or unfamiliar features, like key-card machines for clocking in and out of the building.
OfficeSpace can help in both the early and the late stages of relocation. When you’ve chosen the new building, our software will help you choose the best layout for each floor. When you’re in the process of moving everyone in, the Visual Directory™ can also help with wayfinding when half of the team is in the old building and the other half is in the new one. Using our floormaps, workers can find exactly whom or what they’re looking for within minutes.