I’ve co-ordinated three office moves in one year. No, that’s not because the office I found was so terrible!! I had to move my team into a temporary office and then move us into something permanent. I also had to move our sister company out of their office and into something shiny and new because they were growing so quickly.
I’m not going to lie, that year was one of the most stressful of my life. Not least because I moved house twice in that same year as well. One of the office moves was in the same week as one of my house moves. So I had to keep my cool otherwise it would have all ended up in disaster.
I obviously learned rather a lot in all of those moves. So here are my 5 tips for a successful office move
1. Really Understand Timings
I mean really understand them. Even the things you think will just happen on their own. They won’t. In Central London the lead time for a proper high speed internet connection to be installed is around 19 weeks (at the beginning of 2016). That’s nearly 5 months. And you can’t order the line until you have signed the lease on the new office. So you have to get a temporary solution. Which will also take time. And everyone will complain to you every single day that the internet is slow.
2. Get a Conveyancer
You might think they are expensive (in London they generally charge 10% of the first year’s rent), but I would never attempt an office move without one. The one we used managed to find our temporary office for us. He had connections with the landlord and we got an 18th floor office overlooking Hyde Park for FREE. All we had to pay was the service charge and the building rates. We agreed a fee with our conveyancer because 10% of zero isn’t a lot. There’s no way I would have found that place on my own as it wasn’t being advertised anywhere. We ended up saving the best part of £100k in rent on that office. He found our permanent office for us as well – a sub let from another of his contacts which we got for probably 15% below market rate for two years. So again, he paid for himself.
3. Work out how many crates you need, and then double it
Packing crates in the office is like packing boxes when you move home. You will never have enough. On our first move I ended up taking a PC, two screens, a plant, and a carrier bag of paper to our new office in a taxi.
You will be amazed at how little actually fits into those crates. Once you stick in a desk tray and a pen holder, there’s very little space left for anything else! Don’t let people zip tie their own crates. You can fill in all the little gaps with things like stationery and kitchen supplies. Also, don’t expect that people will tidy out their drawers before they fill their crates. Most people will just tip it all in, dust, gum, coins and all!
4. Feed your Removal People
On moving day, we didn’t finish working until at least midnight. That was starting at 4pm with about 15 professional removal people and IT folk. If you don’t feed them, they will fall asleep on you and you will be there all night. I generally have plenty of biscuits on hand, and when it reaches about 7pm, think about ordering them all a pizza. It’s also good to show them that you appreciate their hard work. Some of them might not be used to working late either so it’s a kind gesture. Keep making them tea and coffee, and make sure you have plenty of bottled water.
5. Draw out Floor Plans
I had about 15 copies of floor plans printed out and I used every single one of them. They weren’t to scale, and they looked terrible. I had basically drawn boxes on PowerPoint and typed in desk numbers and staff names. There were plans for the old office and plans for the new office. That way everyone involved in the move knew who was moving from where and could make sure their PCs and crates were put on the correct desks. I also made a big version and stuck it up on the wall so people could see it as they came in on their first day in the office and could work out where their new desk was. Every time I’ve moved office, the day after moving day has been the first time most staff had seen the new office. So having a visual representation of where they were sitting helped me immensely.
Have you moved office recently? What advice would you offer to someone who has just started the process?