Moving your office without a checklist is asking for trouble. Instead of planning as you go — which is really not planning at all — create a checklist that will help you stay within budget and on deadline.
The best way to avoid moving pitfalls is to be prepared. The list is likely to change over time, and that's OK. The goal is to have before you a blueprint that you can refer to again and again. Here's a model to work with. You checklist may look slightly different depending on the size and type of office you're moving:
- Create a moving task force. You don't have to shoulder the entire burden of a move. Indeed, that could be an impossible task and, therefore, a guaranteed failure. Establish a task force consisting of key employees who can offer assistance and guidance during the entire moving process.
- Meet with a space planner and/or interior designer. Trying to fit everything into a new space with little or no expertise is asking for trouble. Make sure you enlist the help of professionals.
- Take inventory and toss what you don't need. Moving can be an excellent time to clean house. As you're taking inventory (do this so that you can make sure everything has arrived safely following the move), consider getting rid of extraneous equipment, papers, and other items that the office has amassed.
- Interview moving companies. It's never too early to begin collecting information about moving companies and then following up with interviews. Be sure to thoroughly check references, too.
- Meet with communications staff. Knowing how the phone system and computer facilities will operate at the new location is a must. It's incumbent on you to make sure that service will not be interrupted. The best way to ensure minimal disruption is to meet with communications staff on a regular basis.
- Contact appropriate utilities. You'll need to contact your local utility companies for various services like phone, electricity, and water. Provide them with stop and start dates and schedule any necessary appointments that will require your presence.
- Take care of the details. Remember to make changes to office stationery and alert your customers that the company is moving with change-of-address cards. This is an excellent opportunity to remind your customers that the company is always looking for ways to improve and this move is just one example of the firm's commitment to excellence. Let your vendors know about the relocation as well.
- Provide employees with orientation. Meet with employees before, during, and after the move to explain how any new functions such as the security and phone systems work. Also, offer guidelines for any new procedures that will be put in place as a result of the move.
- Arrange for new services. You want the transition to occur as smoothly as possible, so try to make move-in day easy and stress-free. Make sure, for example, that ample parking is available for your company's employees. Order new keys, too, so that people can actually get inside!
- Meet with movers to review plans. Stay in close touch with your movers as move-in day approaches. Make sure you set aside enough time to actually sit down to review and confirm furniture and floor plans. Waiting until move-in day will frustrate the movers, your colleagues, and you.
- Conduct a walk-through. On move-in day (or before) walk through the new space with staff to indicate new work areas. Make them feel welcomed and respond to any questions they may have.
- Plan a party and celebrate. Don't forget to reward yourself and other employees with a move-in party. Celebrate the success of the move and congratulate everyone on his or her contribution.
When moving your office, advance planning, clear communication, and a willingness to live with a little chaos go a long way. Read Ten Tips on Painless Office Moves for some helpful advice. Be sure to also check out Tips on Expanding or Relocating Your Office Space.