By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
What does it take to relocate an entire office? Covering every little detail of an office move can seem next to impossible, but the right tools will make move management for facility managers and coordinators simple. This move management checklist provides an important overview of the steps you’ll need to consider and the physical logistics you’ll need to oversee in order to execute a smooth move.
Of course, every organization has different needs and different concerns with any office move, but our checklist covers some of the major points of consideration for any enterprise considering a location change. Whether you’re a startup expanding to your own offices for the first time or an established organization in need of a new headquarters, this checklist will help you get a handle on the scope of your move and the many little things that must be taken care of before you can successfully set up shop in a new office.
Preliminary Move Management Steps: Fact-Finding & Decision Making
At the outset, it’s important to lay a good foundation for the move. Facility managers and coordinators, including high-level management should meet and potentially collaborate with some middle managers to answer some basic questions and identify some important concerns.
- Develop a high-level process outline: Start by identifying basic goals and a general timeline. What does your organization need from a new space? Do you want to build a new facility, rent a floor of an existing office building or purchase an abandoned warehouse and customize the interior? What’s the ideal square footage? When should you aim to be completely settled into that new space? Consider everything from upcoming product releases to potential schedule delays due to a high tendency toward inclement weather in a particular season.
- Assemble a winning team: Tap the right people to handle some preliminary fact-finding and keep it close to the vest so unfounded rumors don’t spread through the office like wildfire. Get the right tools on board too—Connect your move management team through SpaceIQ’s move management software and start developing email lists for communication about the move.
- Analyze the shortcomings of your current space: What is it about your office that makes it difficult for employees to get their work done? Whether it’s insufficient access to electrical outlets or an old-school layout that doesn’t offer enough collaborative space, the things that don’t work now should lay the groundwork for a list of features the new space must have.
- Determine staffing goals and needs: Businesses that move into a cushy new space often do so because they plan to rapidly expand in the near future, which means that a lot of new faces may come onboard in the near future. When this is the case, it’s important to strategize which departments need the most attention up front and to ensure that each specialized team has enough space in the new office to accommodate incoming employees.
- Hire a designer: You wouldn’t hire a kindergarten teacher to design your IT infrastructure, so why leave your new office space’s interior design in the hands of a secretary or intern? A designer can help you not only achieve a maximally efficient and comfortable floor plan but also provide insight into durable materials and office upgrades that are standard in the modern workplace. Designers can also help add art and other decorative elements to make the space feel more pleasant and appealing for both employees and visitors, including prospective clients. Space management and office style are both areas that an experienced designer can assist with.
- Is a move really necessary? Space utilization is an underrated point of consideration. A business that’s happy in its current location but feels pressure to expand due to a cramped feeling in the office could end up making a harmful decision if it ends up moving into a more expensive space. If you don’t have any plans to expand your team any time soon but are feeling like sardines in a can, a utilization analysis will make it easier to determine whether a smarter layout could help your organization feel more comfortable in its current home.
Preparatory Steps: Researching & Laying Groundwork
When you’ve decided that you simply need more space or want to relocate to or build an updated environment to host day-to-day business activities, it’s time to get more specific with your planning.
- Assess space layout options: Review real estate options or blueprints and come up with a shortlist of finalist candidates. Add floor plans to SpaceIQ and use its Space Planning functions to mock up different furniture layouts and seating arrangements for approval or critique from department heads and other leadership. Use their feedback to further narrow down options.
- Finalize insurance and provide documentation: Obtain insurance coverage for the new premises. Provide insurance certificate information to landlord or lender if required.
- Research and get bids from movers: Find reputable moving companies with the fleet and staff capacity to handle a move on a scale that’s appropriate for your needs. Submit requests for proposals (RFP) and review bids. Select a mover and review contracts. Set a firm date and make sure all expectations for fees, services, communication needs and other details are mutually agreed upon.
- Day-of logistics at both locations: Obtain parking permits, loading dock access, security clearance and any other permissions necessary to allow movers to park trucks and move throughout the building on the day (or days) of the move in both the old and the new location.
- Vendor management: See which of your current vendor services can be transferred to your new location on the same account. Set a termination date for services that aren’t transferrable and line up new vendors to fill their place in the new location.
- Inventory management: Take stock of your current furniture, equipment and other supplies, all the way down to the art on the walls. Does any of that stuff belong to your current landlord? Is any of it incompatible with your new office layout concept? Will you need to put anything in storage between move-out and move-in? Take stock of everything, make inventory lists and set specific timelines for new furniture purchases.
- Draft and refine a move list: Create a move list draft and have it reviewed to be sure nothing’s falling between the cracks. Make sure everything the movers need is detailed on the list and that all the details the moving company needs is outlined in a way that’s acceptable.
Employee Preparation: Keeping Your Team in the Loop & Ready to Work
Whether you’ve kept your team in the dark throughout the whole process or they’ve been involved from the start, some of the important tasks you have to contend with in the run-up to the move deal directly with employee communication.
- Announcing the move: Conventional wisdom on when to officially announce the move varies, but if you work in a young startup or another organization with a small workforce, it may be difficult or impossible to keep the change a secret. Some organizations choose to wait until a month before the moving date to make the announcement in order to reduce the impact on the team. If the move involves a dramatic change in location to another city or state; however, you’ll want to make the announcement early enough to allow the employees making the move with you to arrange a new living situation, get their kids enrolled in schools and have their own belongings moved.
- Office layout: Again, your approach to this may vary based on both the size and the culture of your organization, but it’s generally a good idea to show employees some images of the new space as part of the official announcement. This can both get the excitement going and allow individual departments to start discussing seating preferences.
- Seat assignments: Use SpaceIQ to circulate seating charts and finalize seat assignments. Note that seat assignments can be fraught and it’s certainly a good idea to let department heads or managers take a look at departmental location layouts before the rest of the office starts worrying about whether they’ll be sitting too close to the bathroom or not. Giving individual employees the chance to request a new seat assignment is a good idea as well, though you may not want to let this process continue indefinitely. If your organization is going to assign seats rather than allow employees to seat themselves, departments to work it out on their own or follow an open seating plan, release the assignments with specific instructions for requesting a change and a deadline for both requests and seating chart freezes. This way, each person will have to take responsibility for their assignment according to a specific schedule.
- Move instructions: Employees should also be supplied with move instructions, including when to turn in security badges for your current premises, when to clear out their desks and how to get onboard in the new office.
- IT planning: Who will handle logistics such as continuous server operation? Will the IT department need early access to the new office to set up networks and equipment? Make sure there’s a specific plan in place that all applicable employees are aware of and OK with well before moving day.
- Rules and protocol: Does your new building have a parking attendant with an itchy tow-trigger finger? Are guests expected to sign in at security in the building and again at the reception in your office? Provide your team with a list of both internal and external rules and protocol in the new building. Even if it’s fairly similar or even identical to the rules of your old office, now’s a great time to provide a refresher.
- Transportation and accessibility: Aside from parking rules and other details that can be covered in an official protocol and policy meeting or email, your team may appreciate getting details on ideal transportation options for the new location, particularly if it’s situated in a completely new area.
- Packing and unpacking: Who’s going to pack up all your confidential files and expensive tech equipment? Are movers going to take boxes of employees’ desk contents along with other items? Make it clear to your team whether you expect them to participate in packing and whether they should plan to move their personal belongings themselves. You should also know who will be unpacking and setting up all that packed stuff once movers unload their trucks at your new office space. Employees should be clear on this as well.
Completing the Move: Watch Your Planning Play Out, But Stay Engaged
- Confirm essential office relocation details: Touch base with both your movers and your employees to confirm basic details of the move. Confirm the final move-out date, including the time by which everything must be removed from the old office and the start date in the new office.
- Take inventory before and after: Even the most honest movers in the world will likely end up misplacing or breaking something at some point in their career. Cross-reference your inventory with your move list before the move and afterward so you can keep track of everything involved in the move, from lamps and boxes of reference books to 3D printers and boxes of server cables.
- Do a pre- and post-move walkthrough: Take a walk through the new office before movers arrive and take another walk through the old office after the movers have left. Check for anything that’s out of order or whether there are things that either should or shouldn’t be there that aren’t.