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Need to know

You can’t manage a business move on your own and apart from needing all your staff to pull together to get things done, you will need their help with specific tasks at particular times.

Having said this, people generally don’t like change, so how you communicate with your staff, clients and suppliers will be critical (see Chapter 5). It is important not to allow rumours about a move to start before you are ready to make an announcement they may needlessly unsettle your staff.

In the early planning stages and before your plans are finalised, you should only involve other people when it is essential to do so.

Your team

At the appropriate time you will need to appoint a team of key staff members. This team should be familiar to your business and have a good understanding of all the issues and tasks to be tackled across all the departments. Initially this should be a small team of a few senior managers to scope the project.

Project Manager

Appoint an internal project manager as soon as you can. They will be responsible for:

  • Co-ordinating all the plans and arrangements
  • Overseeing the move timetable
  • Identifying potential problems or bottlenecks
  • Keeping track of expenditure

Project Team

A project team should support the project manager and take responsibility for specific aspects of the move. Guard against the team becoming too large and unwieldy but you do need to make sure all the key departments in your organisation are represented.

Project Team Members could include representatives from:

  • IT
  • Finance
  • Human resources
  • Facilities management
  • Marketing
  • Operations

The Chair will usually be a senior manager but not the project manager.

Team tasks

The role of the project team is to discuss and agree:

  • The move timetable
  • Responsibilities
  • Reporting procedures
  • Deadlines and target dates

The success of the team is essential to the smooth management of the project. Their full buy-in to the move is critical.

Identifying the scope of the move

Having identified the new premises and potential move time frame you must get an accurate assessment of what has to be moved and managed so you can finalise the budget and project timetable, and appoint the contractors and suppliers you will need.

IT and telecommunications

Consider your IT and telecommunications systems at the first opportunity. These are crucial to the running of your business and the configuration of your systems are likely to determine the floor plans in your new premises. They will also be a key priority to get up-and-running on the move day (See Chapter 4).

Asset survey

Each department needs to complete a full asset review of equipment and furniture. Everything should be catalogued with:

  • Details of the make and model
  • Age
  • Condition
  • Dimensions
  • Asset numbers

In due course the lists will be reviewed to agree what is to be taken to the new premises, what will be left behind and what needs to be purchased.

Every item of furniture or equipment that is going to be moved must be measured carefully and a note made of all the dimensions. This will not only help you with your planning but will assist your removal company as well.

Office equipment

Office equipment such as; photocopiers, faxes, mailing and vending machines may well be leased. If you have existing leased equipment, discuss the move with the leasing company. It may be written in to your leasing agreement that the leasing company can only move the equipment. Make arrangements either for new machinery in the new office, or for the leasing company to supervise or transport the machines to your new office.

Stationery and marketing materials

Each department should make a list of all the stationery and marketing materials that will need to be changed.

  • The list should include documents and materials on the computer system as well as the items you will need to reprint.
  • Are these necessary and/or cost effective?
  • Do they fit with your corporate identity?
  • If you haven’t got a marketing team to co-ordinate this exercise, assign someone on your project team to take responsibility.

Get a move plan

Choose a removals company that specialises in business moves and can offer specialist advisers. It’s good to have help at hand quickly if you identify a problem.

A specialist removal company will be aware of the potential pitfalls, and will alert you to the risks. You may have your own specialists in-house, but bear in mind they might never have been involved in a business move and may not know just how complex the project may become.

For example, your IT department will have the responsibility of maintaining and running your existing systems and networks in the run-up to your move. During the planning phase they will also need to work with space planners and designers to plan the new IT infrastructure, test the wiring plans and configurations against the proposed floor plans, organise the decommissioning and reconnection, installation and testing of all the equipment, as well as manage the back-up and security of your company’s data and applications through the move. A specialist adviser could help with some or all of these tasks.

If you are ready for quotes, request a quote for your business move today.

Top tip
  • If you are having new furniture you could ask your supplier to build a new workstation in your existing offices so people can see what it will look like and how the space will work.
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Space and workplace planning

You may take the opportunity to introduce new ways of working at your new premises – for example, changing to open plan offices, ‘hot desking’, or moving individual departments to achieve work efficiencies. You might have the budget to buy and install new office furniture, or choose to use a combination of old and new furniture.

Recognise the constraint

Your IT, telecommunications or electrical requirements, will affect workspace layouts. For instance it may not be possible to organise team desks in circular pods if the floor boxes for wiring are arranged in a linear configuration. In this case you will either have to change your floor plans or pay for the floor boxes to be moved. Make sure you identify what you can and can’t do as soon as possible.

Furniture and floor plans

Many office furniture suppliers offer a free planning service and this can be useful, especially if you’re going to buy everything new. If you intend to retain existing furniture it might be cost-effective to employ an independent space planner who will be objective about incorporating the items you want to take with you and who will work with you to optimise the benefit of existing office furniture. Don’t forget to supply your planner with the measurements of all the items you will be taking with you.

Get buy-in

When managers have agreed the plan, communicate it to your staff. You should have a mechanism to listen to staff feedback but don’t allow staff to decide where people will sit. Throughout this process your managers should be working hard to get their teams to buy-in to the new plans.

Case study

A financial services company based in London wanted its staff to feel more involved with the office relocation. The management allowed its staff to choose an element of the workspace, the colour of their new chairs. A small selection of colour swatches were issued and each department chose a colour scheme.

Choosing a removal company

  • Prepare a preliminary inventory
  • Prepare a preliminary move specification
  • Research a shortlist – ask business contacts for recommendations
  • Choose at least three removal companies to quote – one of these should be local or at least have a local office for cost comparisons
  • Check shortlisted companies are registered members of British Association of Removers’ Commercial Moving Group (www.bar.co.uk)
  • Investigate the company’s quality accreditations to understand their approach to quality
  • Ask shortlisted companies to tender for your move against the inventory and specification
  • Give each company a chance to visit your current premises to scope the project
  • Check terms and conditions, insurance and indemnity and health and safety procedures
  • Ask for and check at least 3 local references
  • Investigate whether you require an off or on site project manager
  • Ask to meet the move manager who will be responsible for your move. Involve your project team in these meetings
  • Ask your chosen supplier back to ‘walk the course’ at each site and attend a move planning meeting with your project team

Next: Moving your IT

Things to consider: top tips for planning your move
  • Allow enough time to plan and appoint your project manager and project team early
  • Agree tasks, responsibilities and reporting procedures
  • Agree the move timetable, deadlines and target dates
  • Analyse the needs of each department and work with a space planner to plan the new space
  • Communicate the plan to your employees
  • Review and rationalise filing, storage, stationery and marketing materials
  • Manage staff input to control workplace politics
  • Select and appoint your removal company at least three months prior to your move to get some advice and guidance and to understand the costs of the project
  • Recognise and understand the resources you will need – appoint specialist advisers as and when you need to
  • Ensure your relocation specialist provides a detailed move plan with allocation of resources within the quotation