At Two Men and a Truck we have completed many office moves in Johannesburg and Cape Town. We’ve noticed that moving office can be a disruptive time for your business. Companies that don’t plan well for their move are impacted in a number of ways. There is a reduction in productivity as the workflow slows or comes to a complete halt. Brand and reputation can be tarnished by the decrease in the quality of service that your company provides around move time. Sales opportunities are missed and customers lost during the down time of your move.
A well planned office move can reduce or eliminate these risks to your business. A good plan can keep disruption to a minimum, both leading up to the move and after the move. An excellent plan can even make sure work flows through your pipeline even while your move is happening.
Happily, with some planning and forethought, your office move can even be a positive and transformative experience for your business. Here are some ideas for planning a successful business move.
Start with your employees
An often overlooked factor that should be considered is the impact of a move on employees. Stressed and unhappy employees are unproductive and a change of environment is often stressful. Arrange a staff meeting, send out a memo, or otherwise communicate that the company will be moving. It’s important to get staff to buy-in when planning a move and the earlier you can involve them in the process, the better.
Acknowledge that change is challenging
Recognise that moving, like any change of circumstance, can impact employees psychologically and emotionally. An office move is likely to impact an employee’s work experience in ways which are meaningful to them. Their commute to work might change. They might lose their favourite lunch time restaurant or morning coffee shop. The new office might not have the same natural light or view that they had in the old office. All of these seemingly small things can unsettle staff and impact their quality of work so shouldn’t be dismissed. List and acknowledge all the ways in which they will be affected by the move. Invite them to add their concerns to the list. Invite them to voice their feelings as you listen. If appropriate, advise and support them as needed.
Share the bigger picture with employees
Tell staff all about the move as well as the reasons for the move. Outline how the move will affect everyone, both in the short run and the long run. Show employees how the move is necessary and important for the future success of the business. Explain how all this impacts employees directly. Ideally, staff should be excited about the opportunities that this change presents. They should realise that although it’s a painful process in the short run, in the long run everyone at the company will be better off.
Discuss the impact of your move on workflow
Identify the ways in which the move will impact workflow and productivity. Come up with strategies to mitigate the impact on workflow. Include these strategies for each phase of your move plan (see below). You may opt for a complete stop to workflow during the move. Or, an alternative to a hard stop is having designated employees working remotely during the move so that there is minimal interruption and backlog.
Create a plan for your office move
Your move plan should be split into 3 distinct phases: before the move; on move day; and after the move. Each phase needs its own plan. Assign responsibilities and tasks for each phase to employees so that they’re involved in the process.
Here are some things that might be useful for you to add to your move plan:
Before the move
-Assign responsibilities to employees who will assist in overseeing your move
-Declutter and get rid of things you don’t need (see this article)
-Design an office floor plan for the new premises
-Book a professional moving company
-Contact your office printer leasing company who will move your printers
-IT department to prepare to transport company servers
-Reserve the service lift in your office building with building management and arrange for parking for the moving company trucks at both the old and new office locations
-Notify customers, suppliers and service providers of your upcoming move
-Empty the contents of filing cabinets and shelves into boxes (unless the movers are doing this for you)
-Plan workflow contingencies for the few days around move day- who will be answering phones, responding to queries etc
-Office staff pack up their desks and belongings
On move day
-Designated staff direct the hired movers at the old office location
-Office staff move their belongings
-Designated staff at new office location direct the movers as to how to layout the office furniture
-IT team sets up servers and internet connection
-Printer company installs the office printers
After the move
-Employees unpack personal belongings/computers and get set up at their work stations
-Boxes unpacked and contents put onto shelves and into filing cabinets
-Management check how employees are adapting to the new office and ensure productivity is back to normal
An office move is a complex thing. Don’t hurry an office move. A successful move requires preparation and planning. The larger your organisation, the more factors need to be taken into consideration. The process should ideally start 1-3 months before the move date.
At Two Men and a Truck we’ve moved the full spectrum of companies from small start-ups to large corporations both in Johannesburg and Cape Town. We’ve seen first-hand how companies prepare for their move and we’ve presented some of the best tips we’ve learned in this article. If you’d like Two Men and a Truck to assist with your office move you can get started here
Get excited about your move
A business relocation brings many exciting possibilities, whether its company growth, a new environment, or an opportunity for everyone in the company to work together on the project of moving, which can be a very bonding experience. By focusing on the opportunity that the move presents, everyone in the company can get excited about it and a real sense of community can be strengthened within your organisation.