Space & Move Management

Office move checklist priorities: What should you include?

Patrick Holloway
June 9th, 2022

Creating a comprehensive office move checklist is one of the best ways to ensure a smooth transition in any upcoming moves whether you’re cutting back on floorspace, expanding onto the floor above you, or moving your entire enterprise to a whole new location. 

On average, studies suggest companies relocate every seven years.

Meanwhile, post-pandemic surveys show that 87% of executives are planning to make changes to their corporate real estate strategy. This is in large part to adjust to and benefit from the rise in hybrid work

Of course, any major changes to the workplace has potential risks as well as benefits. These are best mitigated with good move management and planning. Additionally, with a carefully considered agenda to keep everyone on task and on schedule.  

In this article, we explore how to create a customized office move checklist for your organization. We also review specific, essential steps that should be in every move plan. 

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Moving office versus restructuring the office

There’s no doubt the workplace has undergone a major shift. 

More companies are embracing both remote and hybrid working. As a result, more are also looking at whether doing so will allow them to reduce their real estate portfolios. And therefore, their accompanying expenses and carbon footprint. 

In other words, it’s no longer only full-scale business relocations that facility managers (FMs) and workplace leaders have to contend with. Along with office relocation, moving office today can look like reducing your existing space, expanding into a new space within the same building, or accommodating creative new flex room ideas that reimagine the office. 

Switching to any number of flexible seating arrangements many also require a completely new office layout. And therefore what is essentially move management. 

While moving carries risks, a move can be one of the best things you ever do for your business.

Mark Henricks, Entrepreneur

In short, drastically changing your workspace strategy and creating a more modern office floor plan will often require the same amount of careful planning as a major move. Anyone responsible for facilitating the switch to a new office space—whether that involves a change of address or not—will require a good, shared plan, and a good, shared office move checklist. 

Creating an office move checklist

Preparing for an office move or reconfiguration is a multistep process. It typically involves many different team members working together over the course of several months. 

Therefore, preparing for an office move is about good planning and creating good checklists for each stage of the process. 

In other words, while you easily can find generic office move checklists online, the reality is that each move is unique, requiring custom plans and schedules. 

That’s why, assuming they already have a comprehensive facility checklist to draw from, FMs should work with all invested stakeholders (including employees) to create a plan and agenda that ensures a seamless move or reorganization with as little downtime as possible. 

Moving-office-checklist

How to organize an office move?

Ideally, you will have the budget to hire a moving company. This way, movers can take care of your standard moving day itself. 

That said, assuming you want a smooth transition to your new address (or newly revamped office space), there’s a lot to take care of before your actual move date.

At least as far as six months out, whomever is in charge of move management should start making lists. And, of course, checking off key tasks in the process. 

We used OfficeSpace to relocate over 1600 people to our new headquarters. OfficeSpace didn’t just streamline the process from start to finish. It drastically reduced the amount of post-move troubleshooting that’s usually involved with large-scale relocations like these.

Sean Germano, Project Manager, Design & Construction, Dropbox

Specifically, you can think about planning and executing your move in four stages. Each of which will have their own office move checklist to follow. 

Stage #1: Planning the move

A successful move will be one that is easy to manage. And one that also leads to better space utilization in the office. It’s important to include all planning details in your office move checklist.

Ultimately, the goal for any organization will always be to use their office space in the most efficient way possible. That’s why before making any full scale changes to the office, FMs need good workplace analytics and careful headcount planning. This will help them better determine what future space will best serve the organization. 

Armed with this essential data, they can design a new floor plan that can implement or improve whichever work environment type their team is using. All while also improving their occupancy rate at the same time. 

Planning the work environment

For example, suppose a company wants to adopt ABW: activity-based working or switch to an agile work environment. FMs need to find or create a space that builds in multiple office zones to accommodate multiple ways of working. Activity based workspace design can often be complex, and may also warrant at least consulting with an interior designer. This will ensure they’re creating common areas that don’t clash with private workstations 

Or suppose they’re following any of the popular office neighborhood examples (i.e.: team-specific neighborhoods, activity-based, or open seating neighborhoods). FMs will need to adjust their office search accordingly.

Of course, this assumes that the organization is already using adequate and flexible hybrid workplace technology that accommodates the needs of all workers. If not, FMs can treat the move as an opportunity to research and also adopt cloud-based digital workplace solutions. This will accommodate a variety of work environments. 

Planning workplace technology

Especially if you’ll be adopting a new workplace strategy, you will want to ensure the new workplace is ready from day one. That means that well ahead of the move, you’ll need to determine if you’ll need new desk booking or room booking software. Or if you’ll want to use IoT sensors or a badge system in your new office. 

If you’re going to be using access cards or requiring parking passes, you’ll want to ensure they’re set up well in advance of move-in days. 

And if you are using any form of hybrid working or free addressing strategy, you’ll also likely want to have a Visual Directory in place. Employees can use it to locate whatever people or resources they may need in real time. You should also begin the process of creating a new wayfinding system that will help everyone navigate their new space.

Finally, any time you’re adopting new technology or implementing new workplace strategies, it’s good to elicit as much feedback from the employees themselves as possible. If you’re not already conducting regular employee surveys and focus groups, your move may be a good opportunity to start this invaluable process.  

“If I invest in technology or space, or if I reduce real estate because I don’t think we need as much, all of that is a potential risk with significant costs associated,” says workplace strategist Angie Earlywine, Senior Director in the Total Workplace division of Global Occupier Services at Cushman & Wakefield. “The antidote to figuring out how to reduce risk is in ensuring you’re aligned with employee sentiment.”

Essential checklist items in the planning stage:

  • Determine your budget, and whether or not you need moving insurance
  • Get quotes from various movers 
  • Review your current lease to see if there will be any penalties for breaking it early; this may also be an opportunity to review your lease management system and decide whether it needs an upgrade
  • Pick a moving date
  • Create a contact list of who will need to be notified of your move (clients, vendors, contractors, and service providers)
  • Use workplace data to  create your new ideal workplace, along with whether you’ll need new furniture or equipment
  • Begin the process of selecting and implementing new technology 

Essential tools in the planning stage:

Restacking the workplace works best when you’re able to visualize the new space you want. In the planning stage of any new move or office change, it’s critical to have a high-level view. It’s important that you’re able to experiment with proposed changes and anticipate any potential issues or challenges. 

“All of our offices use Move Manager and Scenarios. Move Manager streamlines every step of the move process—seating assignments, scheduling, and sending communications out to everyone involved. And it’s so helpful to create virtual versions of our floor plans in Scenarios, and play around with a few different options, especially when we’re planning big office reshuffles.”

Bernard Morrissey, Chief Officer for Real Estate and Facilities, K&L Gates

Specifically, anyone planning a move will need the following 2 tools:

  • Stack plan software that allows you to drag and drop teams and departments into various arrangements in your new office
  • Scenario planning software, which helps creates shareable layouts that let you experiment with versions of floor plans before making physical changes 

Stage #2: Communicating about the move

Communication details are an essential element of an office move checklist. Once you’ve set a firm moving date, it’s time to begin the process of sharing the news with all invested parties. This includes letting your current landlord and/or building manager know your plans, of course. In a timely manner, you’ll also want to go through the contact list you started in the planning stage.

Critically, communication also includes bringing all your employees on board and up to speed, along with divvying up key tasks to them. To do this, you’ll likely want to create a moving team to manage certain specific responsibilities. 

You’ll also want to let employees know what their personal responsibilities will be, such as packing and labeling their personal belongings, or removing anything personal from their workstations if the office is moving to a hot desking system. 

Remember that even small changes can be stressful, so be sure to be open and mindful when communicating with staff. You may want to bring HR on board to help smooth out any tensions and answer any questions. 

If there will be new technology or systems in place in the new (or newly revamped) office, then make sure employees are given adequate training or orientation ahead of time. 

It can also be helpful to set up a Slack channel or use email or the company Intranet to keep employees continually up to speed, as well as to provide them a space to raise potential issues or concerns.  

Finally, it’s important to note that security in building automation systems (BAS) is incredibly important. Although that is typically managed by your building, not your IT department. 

For this reason, you should also communicate with your property manager to determine if you’ll need to take extra steps to bring in an outside consultant to keep your BAS secure going forward. 

Essential checklist items in the communication stage:

Communicate with:

  • Current and future landlords and property managers regarding key issues
  • Employees and address their concerns
  • Clients, vendors, contractors, and other invested parties and ensure they have your new contact information; begin the process of canceling or moving any relevant subscriptions or services

It’s also important to set up a task force that will handle main moving tasks.

Stage #3: Prepping the move

There’s lots of moving parts to the moving process. And each company will have their own needs and requirements when it comes to preparing for the move. This may be where many companies start with their office move checklist, but at this stage, they should’ve already been halfway through!   

That’s why, when it comes to the logistics of the move itself, you need good collaboration in the workplace between IT, HR, and FM teams. They should be working side-by-side with the moving team to ensure everything runs smoothly. Together, they can create a custom moving checklist that should be shared with everyone.

How should you prepare?

Make sure that you arrange for utility transfers and installations, that the internet and wifi will be ready to go, and that you take care of the basics like getting a new phone number and business cards, and contacting the post office to change your mailing address. It’s also a good idea to check and see if your wayfinding signage and systems will be sufficient. 

You’ll need to decide what office furniture, supplies, and equipment you want to bring with, as well as how it will need to be packed. It’s also often helpful to order cleaning services for after you’ve moved out. Most leases require you to leave your old office in good condition. 

Also make sure that employees have a detailed guide that explains the entire process, plus what they can expect in their new office location—right down to what parking will be available. 

“We sent out a lot of email and Slack communications before the move. Employees are aware of the “/find” Slack integration as well as using the Visual Directory, both of which were really helpful after the move when everyone was figuring out the new seat assignments.”

Andrea Diieso, Workplace Experience Manager at Rapid7

Ultimately, while getting ready for the move, the guiding principle should be that you don’t want to leave anything to chance, or to the last minute. Do a walkthrough of your new space before moving in. Continually check in with employees to see how they’re doing. And ensure that you have all the moving supplies, security requirements, and technology in place before moving day. 

Stage #4: Making the move and settling in

Last but not least, you’re finally ready to move in!

Assuming you’ve done all the preparatory work, move-in day should be relatively straightforward. For example, that’s how Rapid7 seamlessly relocated 600 employees in just 2 days. 

“By the time the move happened, the Scenario was entirely filled out so the merging process was simple and painless,” says Andrea Diieso, Rapid7’s Workplace Experience Manager.

Once you’ve given everyone time to unpack, be sure to check in again, and to do so regularly after the first few weeks of the new arrangements. 

And remember that even with the best planning, there’s bound to be some hiccups or some lessons learned—and the best way to catch and address them is to consult with the people who are actually using the office. 

Of course, there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ office—only a flexible one that you continually improve. 

That’s why to get the most out of your move, you want to ensure you’re using space management software that helps you understand and ultimately maximize how the office is being used—now and well into the future. 

Moving-office-checklist

What is the best way to prepare for an office move? 

The best way to prepare for an office move is to follow the three basic elements of space management: space planning, careful implementation, and space tracking. 

In other words, an office move isn’t a ‘one-and-done’ process. It’s about making a careful plan and checklist, so that when it comes to moving day, you’re able to implement all your changes seamlessly. Then, you can keep tracking and using the same office analytics that you used to inform your move. This will inform how you’re using the office going forward. 

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Photos: kate_sept2004, FatCamera, sturti