Choosing a new office space can be tricky; as you consider how to get the balance between client and employee’s needs, as well as predicting what the future may hold for your business. So, if you’ve identified that an office move may be on the cards, how do you decide what type of space you need, keep your employees and clients informed, and ensure everything runs smoothly?
Our guide will clarify exactly what you should consider when moving offices, what order to do things in - via a handy moving office checklist - and even how to maintain that all important office culture during this time of change.
1) Picking the right office space for your business
2) Planning for a business move
3) Using an office move checklist
4) Creating a new floor plan
5) Final checks before the move
6) Actions to complete following the move
7) Planning for time: how long should a business move last?
8) Maintaining business productivity
9) Retaining office culture
How do I know if I’ve picked the perfect office space?
Asking the right questions is a great place to start! It is very likely that you have all the big questions - What location do we want? What facilities do we need? What are the cost implications of a business move? What size of office do we need? When do we want to make the move? - at the forefront of your mind (and maybe even ticked off already), but there are several additional factors to consider when moving office.
Ask yourself the following questions before you sign on the dotted line - if you can answer each of these points with confidence and conviction, then you’ll be able to encourage your own team, and your clients, to get behind this decision too.
How do you plan for a business move?
So you’ve found the perfect office space - you’re confident that it’s exactly what you need - and you’re now feeling ready to get the wheels in motion. But where to begin?
Before any business move can take place, you need to lay foundations of strong, clear plans.
Here are a few things to consider, or prepare:
- Create a ‘one-pager’ that has all the details about the new office. This will serve as your handy ‘go to’ guide that you can share with key players within the business. This may include key dates (such as current lease termination, preferred move date, new lease signing, new office build-out start and finish and final date for completion of the move.), key contact details at the new office, office dimensions/blueprints (including components such as electrical outlets, storage space, etc.)
- Estimate your relocation budget - get all anticipated costs in one spreadsheet that you can review and update periodically. As part of this, decide if you have the budget to use full service movers or not, if you have budget to re-decorate or buy new furniture etc. Movers.com has a list of potential costs to consider: http://www.movers.com/moving-guides/how-to-budget-your-business-move.html
- Decide and ‘recruit’ (this may be an existing colleague) a primary person in charge of the move. This person will serve as the in-office move coordinator and should be organised, have authority within the business, and be capable of making decisions (without you) when necessary. They should also be 100% onboard with the move, and happy to manage any potential challenge or questions from colleagues.
- Liaise with your move coordinator to decide on an internal project planning team. The move coordinator will be the leader of this team, but the team will represent the wider company and help ensure all bases are covered and nothing is forgotten. Again, this team should be trusted and you should be confident that they’ll be 100% onboard with the move.
- Recruit your internal project planning team, tell them about the plan to move (alongside your move coordinator) and ask them to pull together a list of questions, concerns, or considerations. Work with your move coordinator to answer all of these questions/concerns - and product a handy FAQ guide.
- Let employees know about the move and share the FAQ guide with them. Reassure them that more detail will follow (and specify the timeline if you are able).
- Scope out an initial project plan for your office relocation with your move coordinator and project planning team. This plan should include a list every task that must be taken to complete the move, who will be responsible for each one, and when the task should be completed etc. - see our office relocation plan checklist below. Ensure the move coordinator and project planning team have had full visibility and buy-in of the plan before distributing more widely.
Creating an office move checklist
Every office relocation is different, so you (along with your team) should decide what tasks to include in your own project plan. It is important to make sure every detail is covered and a set timeframe and budget is clearly defined. Take time to build your office relocation project plan and refine or amend the plan throughout the relocation process, as necessary.
- Determine a timeline for hiring movers (if you have decided that this is the best option for you) and outline what you will need them to do and when. You can use https://www.comparemymove.com/office-removals to compare quotes from movers.
HANDY TIP: Some, but not all, movers provide insurance. Check all the T&Cs to make sure you have the right level of cover as accidents do happen.
HANDY TIP: Not all movers will take plants, so you may need to check and make other arrangements for these.
- Determine a timeline for informing employees - considering when updates can be shared etc. and the best way for keeping everyone up to date on progress.
HANDY TIP: You may want to arrange a monthly or fortnightly update on progress (from your planning team) to the wider business - to help ensure that everyone is in-the-loop. This may be a meeting, or just an email.
- Schedule regular meetings with your contact(s) at the new office - make sure they have full visibility of your moving plan, and are supporting you in providing the access you may need (if feasible) ahead of big day.
HANDY TIP: It is likely that a move will need to be done outside of normal business hours, as most buildings won’t allow moves during office hours. The best time for an office move is typically over the weekend, but it’s best to check! Also ask about any other requirements/restrictions, such as the amount of time you can park at the loading dock, if you are required to protect floors, and if elevators could be/need to be reserved.
- Determine an office layout - considering what currently works well in your existing office, and what you would like to change - ask your team!
HANDY TIP: It is likely that any new office will have more or less storage that you current office. If less, consider if you need any external storage organising too.
- Perform an inventory - determine what furniture/equipment you’re taking with you, what is being thrown away (and how), and what needs to be replaced. We have produced a more detailed overview of how to create an office floor plan, including reviewing your furniture needs, below.
HANDY TIP: You may ask each head of department (or those within your project planning team) to lead on this - giving a budget per department and asking them to confirm what they want etc. could be a nice way to bring any resistant colleagues onboard.
- How will the new office be decorated? and who is doing this (you may have already set aside budget for a decorator or interior designer). If you are using a designer/decorator, be sure to get their timings and factor this into the overall move date.
HANDY TIP: it is very likely that at least one work will need to be done at your current and new offices - such as patching up holes from pictures, fixing any small areas of damage etc. You may wish to hire a handyman for a couple of days, to get everything sorted in one go.
- Determine IT requirements at the new office - outlining what is already set up (and if/how it may need adapting), anything additional that may be required, what the timeframe for planning and execution is - again factoring this into the overall move date (as ideally you want all IT essentials set-up before you move employees in).
HANDY TIP: A lot of serviced offices have pre-determined broadband providers, so find out early on who the provider is, and ask your IT team to ensure the ‘package’ option fits the bill for you.
HANDY TIP: Make sure all required cabling is installed and tested before your IT team arrives to setup equipment.
- Determine a timeframe for auditing all documentation - and purging unnecessary files (moving paper records to digital). You might also consider offsite records storage to free up office space.
- List all marketing collateral that will need updating - including the company website - and map out a timeframe for editing, reprinting etc.
Collate a list of all customers/clients - that will need notifying about the upcoming business move and determine who needs to be called, who could be emailed, who will be ok with just an e-bulletin etc.
What’s the best way to approach a new floor plan?
The key is to completely familiarise yourself with the new office space and its surroundings:
- Measure the dimensions of each room (or ask for a blueprint) and find out if/how all existing and furniture fits in.
- Identify where electrical outlets, storage spaces, and broadband routers/cables are.
- Consider what new furniture or equipment you may require.
- Think about the requirements of your team - you may not want to place a team that requires silence next to reception, or an all-female team miles from the nearest ladies bathroom etc.
- You may also want to fit-out the new office differently – and now is also a good time to refresh your interior style!
As you create a detailed floor plan, include key operational areas, such as meeting rooms, board rooms and kitchens, as well as staff workstations, storage and IT and phone systems.
Microsoft Office has a handy floor plan tool that can be used to help map out what space you have, and how best to use it within a new office. Take a look at it here.
What final checks do you need to do before a business move?
A week before the move…
- Arrange for your moving company to come in and pack up any big/non-essential items.
- Give employees some time before the move to pack their desk items. Ask them take all personal possessions with them.
- Arrange for at least two managers to be present during the entire move, one at the ‘old’ office and one at the ‘new’ office.
- Arrange a walk-around the new office - to check things like broken light bulbs, no leaks, broadband is working etc. Test phones, computers, networks, servers and other electrical equipment - if set up.
- Double-check that every item has been accounted for - if plants can’t be taken by the movers, then make sure there is a plan in place to transport these.
- Finalise any seating plans and let the team know.
- Confirm final plans with clients/vendors - outlining any temporary changes to office hours and any emergency contacts.
- Set up forward of any mail.
What do you need to do after a business move?
The week following the move…
- Check your old office when it’s empty to make sure nothing has been left behind, and any damage/marks have been repaired.
- Put up a sign at the old office (if you are allowed) that outlines you have moved, and provides your new premises detail
- If you have come from a serviced office with a manned reception and office manager, it is polite to say thank you with a card.
- Re-review your original plan and checklist to make sure nothing has been missed - little things like a change of address in email signatures, can be easy to forget!
- Provide your team with a day-to-day FAQ sheet such as Wifi passwords,bathroom directions, details of nearest amenities, names of cleaners/office managers etc.
- Create a help/support email address (or make someone available to answer all immediate staff enquiries) to ensure that any issues can be raised and dealt with efficiently - proactively ask your team for feedback!
- Organise a walk-around the new office for the team (you may do this by department, or in small mixed groups)
- Arrange for the collection of empty boxes and crates, and report any damages to the removal company.
- Drop in and say hello to your new neighbours - provide them with a bit of background about what you do, and ask for the same in return.
- Organise a drop-in party or lunch/refreshments and invite both your team and nearest neighbours to attend.
- Let clients know that you’re ‘in’ - invite key clients to drop by - reassure them that it is ‘business as usual’.
How much time should you allow to pack up, move, and get back up and running?
This might depend on whether you are moving to a serviced office or into your own conventional office space. A move to serviced space requires much less time to plan as there are no long leases to negotiate and the space itself is already fitted out. Therefore most moves are planned 1 to 3 months in advance, some larger ones may take up to 6 months.
Business relocations to leased office space are often planned much longer in advance, anything from six months to in advance, and larger moves which ccan require up to two years of planning. It’s hard to say exactly how much time you will need to allow, but your new office space provider should be able to advise you on a feasible move date depending on your business size etc. Do be cautious and allow a ‘buffer’ (this may be just a few days if you’re a small business, up to a month or two for a bigger business). In some cases bigger businesses will take Swing Space when timings between the two don’t work out as planned and they need to take emergency office space for a period of time.
If you are organised, you should be able to complete transition of all essential items/equipment, staff etc. in just a couple of days (even if not everything is 100% set-up). Minimising non-productive hours and thus impact on clients and revenue is key, as well as keeping your existing employees feeling happy and informed.
How can you ensure that business productivity doesn’t drop off during an office move?
Maintaining productivity during an office move can be difficult because moving it is naturally going to be pretty disruptive. Every business wants an office move to run as smoothly as possible, but it is rare to get through this process without something needing extra time or attention.
Here are four considerations, to keep productivity high during an office move:
- Starting to pack non-essential items early on, and devising a detailed floor plan of where everything will go in the new office (identifying areas of improvement in your current office set-up and any potential problems with your new office) helps ensures that these key tasks aren’t left to the last-minute.
- Bringing in external experts to pick up jobs you can’t easily do, is important, as it’ll minimise risk and ensure your employees aren’t spending their time doing work that doesn’t actually contribute to the bottom line.
- Keeping everyone informed (internally and externally) and ensuring actions are clearly assigned and timeframe clear, will keep any pre-move anxiety at bay.
- Ensuring that you and your team arrive in an organised office will save a huge amount of unnecessary stress and help ensure they can hit the ground running - which in turn will creative a positive ‘vibe’ so people settle in more quickly.
How do you retain your office culture in a new office?
Company culture is important for any business, especially during times of change or transition like an office move. When relocating your office, focus on the needs of your employees to help promote the culture in your new space - getting your team bought into the office move in advance (and during) will help to ensure your office culture is sustained.
Consider implementing the following:
- FAQ sheets with key details that you can hand out
- A feedback box or help/support email address (or internal POC) for any new questions
- Fortnightly email or face-to-face updates
- A new bulletin board for any quick updates
- Maps of the new area inc transport links
- A welcome lunch/party at the new building
- Looking into organising discounts for your employees with any new, local businesses
- A free hour in the first week to explore the local area
Whenever, and wherever you move - we wish you the best of luck!
If you’re considering an office move, but would like to discuss your options with us, please get in touch here.