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Plan for momentum

Your removal company will have assigned you a Move Manager, who will appreciate another chance to ‘walk the course’ at each property to:

  • Confirm the move specification and undertake a risk assessment at both properties
  • Double check access, parking and entry points
  • Place floor plans at the entry of each floor and room plans at the entry of each room

Most removal companies like to move from the top of a building down to the ground floor but your business priorities might mean this sequence has to be adapted.

Planning meeting

Organise a planning meeting to go over the final details of the move with your suppliers. Although the planning meeting will cover some old ground it will also confirm:

  • Dates, deadlines and timings - including legal possession, power, services, telecommunications
  • Access and parking, police and local authority permissions and permits
  • Floor and desk plans
  • The key personnel at both sites
  • Move day schedule including start/finish times and meal breaks
  • Security arrangements, including keys, door staff, passes, premises protection
  • Insurance for contents and premises
  • Communication arrangements on move day
  • Delivery dates for crates and other move supplies
  • Labelling conventions - colour and position codes to be cross-checked against the new floor plans
  • Health and safety - make sure you have basic first aid materials available and a procedure for all eventualities
  • Maintenance engineers - access to and availability of lifts engineers
  • Access to power in the new premises
  • Equipment leasing

At the planning meeting make note of all actions that are agreed so that all the stakeholders are aware of their responsibilities and contribution to the move.

Labelling conventions

The importance of labelling cannot be over-emphasised. The labelling is the responsibility of every employee and errors at this stage can have consequences at the new premises.

Agree the labelling conventions at your planning meeting:

  • If floor areas are large, or there are a large number of cellular offices, it may be necessary to draw up an individual plan for each room
  • Every item to be moved must be labelled and the room and position numbers on each label must correspond with the floor plan
  • Labels must be placed in the correct position on each item of furniture or equipment
  • The system must tie in with your floor and workspace plans as well as the IT and telephone systems

Packing crates: hints and tips for your staff

  • Empty crates are delivered in stacks of 20 to 25, nested into one another for space economy
  • Crates can be used for the packing of most office items - files/paperwork/books/desk contents. Crates hold approximately 2 feet of filing or the equivalent of a drawer of a fourdrawer filing cabinet
  • Crates should be not be filled over the stacking bars or lid
  • Crates should never be placed on desks
  • Delicate items can be wrapped before placing in the crate
  • Fragile items should be placed in cartons marked ‘Fragile’
  • Take care not to pack crates too heavily - a packed crate should still be capable of being carried by one person with care, and by 2 persons with ease
Things to consider:
  • A precise schedule for move day
  • Lift engineers in attendance or on standby
  • Access and parking, as well as permits
  • Attendance of key staff on move day
  • Keys, passes and security arrangements
  • Communications on move day
  • Insurance
  • Clearing rubbish generated by the move
  • Health and safety
  • Power supplies, catering, rest areas, bathrooms
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Brief staff

Most business moves happen over a weekend to reduce downtime and everyone must understand the timetable for shutting down beforehand. Briefing staff adequately prior to the move is key.

Organise team meetings to discuss and confirm:

  • Arrangements for move day
  • Labelling convention
  • Packing plan and responsibilities
  • De-commissioning and re-commissioning of equipment
  • Move timetable

Storage and disposal

Each department needs to identify unwanted supplies and equipment for storage, disposal or recycling so extend the labelling plan to include these. Once the items have been identified your removal company will arrange disposal. Prepare a list of the items not to be moved so your removal teams have a checklist to refer to on move day.

Clear out

Moving is an opportunity for a clearout, so:

  • Organise a ‘purge day’ in advance and book a skip. Issue large plastic rubbish bags to staff so they can dispose of unwanted files and stationery
  • If you need extra help to move items and clear work areas arrange porterage services with your removal company
  • Lock drawer type filing cabinets and keep the keys
  • Back up all computer files

Packing Up

Packing of individual work stations is usually carried out by employees, though professional packing services of other items is advisable to ensure that health and safety procedures are followed at all times.

  • Identify any archive material that can be packed in advance
  • Crates will be delivered several days prior to move day to allow time for packing of working areas
  • Security crates should be supplied for confidential documents, personnel records, accountancy files, tape, discs and sensitive information

Move Day

Move day is about action and requires the execution of a number of interrelated tasks within a tight timescale:

  • Communication: staying in touch is very important so everyone involved in the move should have access to a mobile phone
  • Get a decision! It is important to reach somebody who is authorised to take any decision that needs to be made
  • Security briefing: Remember to brief all your contractors, suppliers and staff about the security arrangements
  • On site security: While the move is taking place it can be useful to have security staff at each door, checking who is entering and leaving the building

Unpacking

Many companies want to make their office move seamless and trouble-free for their employees, so they can hit the ground running when they get back to work. Your removal company will be able to offer post-move assistance, which can include:

  • Unpacking and restoring files and filing systems
  • Having technicians available to sort out any moving or repositioning of desks or equipment
  • Unpacking and storing office supplies
  • Unpacking, stacking and clearing crates to holding areas
  • Crate hire reconciliation to avoid incurring extra charges

Rubbish

Packing and unpacking crates and boxes can produce a lot of rubbish, and the protective packing materials around equipment will also generate large amounts of waste. You may need to make special arrangements to dispose of the rubbish that is generated by your move.

Check and test

Whether it is computers, machinery or telephones you should aim to check and test all the office equipment that has moved with you. Computers, telephones and office equipment should be tested at the earliest opportunity. In addition to getting your IT specialists to check all equipment consider organising an electrician or other specialists to check other equipment and machinery.

The crates

Crates are normally rented and it is easy to lose track of crates after a move, or delay unpacking them, and then find you have incurred substantial extra costs. The charges can be punitive because they are usually calculated on a daily rate.

Count them in, count them out

  • The crate hire agreement will specify a delivery date before moving and a return date afterwards
  • Make sure all your employees understand the return deadline and know that everything must be unpacked before then
  • If all the crates are not available for collection on the assigned day you are likely to be charged for additional collection and uplift costs, as well as the extra days’ rental charges
  • Your project manager should control and manage the crate reconciliation. They will have had to sign a consignment delivery note when the crates were delivered and will need to sign another when the crates are collected

The old site

Conduct a sweep of the old site to check that:

  • All rubbish has been removed
  • Unwanted items have been disposed of (or sent for recycling)
  • Professional cleaning of the premises has been completed
  • Any necessary minor repairs have been made

If you leased your old site, remember to check the obligations you had to your landlord. All leases require tenants to repair all or part of the premises and at the end of the term the landlord will want to check these have been done. There is also likely to be a clause that specifies how the landlord wants the premises to look. You might, for example, be required to repaint areas or replace carpet or flooring when you vacate the property.

Reviewing the move

Debrief

Your removal company and other move contractors will always want feedback from you about their service and how they handled your move. It can be useful to arrange a debrief meeting to review the project.

Costs

Before the move some costs might have been listed as variable, and things might have happened on move day that hadn’t been planned. Check costs against estimates and discuss any issues that might have arisen with your suppliers. You will also want to review the actual costs against the budgets and timescales you set for the move.

Insurance

There will be a time limit for making an insurance claim after your move, which is why it’s so important to check there has been no damage to equipment, supplies or the fabric of your premises.

In the final analysis

Every business move is unique, and everyone at all levels of an organisation will be affected by the change. However small the project, it will require robust planning and preparation to be a success.

If you haven’t got the time or resources to manage key tasks, then employ specialists to help. The cost of doing so will be outweighed by the potential cost and disruption if things go wrong. The priority must be that your move will cause the least possible disruption to your business – your customers, your staff and your bottom line.

Next: Download 30 point move checklist

Avoiding the pitfalls
  • ‘Walk the course’ with your contractors
  • Hold a planning meeting
  • Confirm space plan
  • Agree a timetable for IT and telecoms system backups and shutdown
  • Develop contingency plans
  • Agree the move sequence so it takes account of your business priorities
  • Agree a labelling convention that ties in with IT and telecommunications
  • Consider labelling for items that need to be disposed of or recycled
  • Organise ‘purge days’ to clear unwanted files, papers and desk contents
  • Brief all your employees about the move and their responsibilities