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Relocating your office is a fraught exercise. Invariably, there are numerous pieces of bulky furniture, electronics and signage to move in addition to the long list of small items to catalogue, pack and shift.

There is also the thorny challenge of managing your team over a compacted timeframe. It’s not feasible to shut down a business for two weeks to move offices. Most companies will, therefore, attempt to complete their move within a few days at most. Without meticulous planning, this can result in either complete mayhem or schedule blowouts that cost the business dearly in lost productivity. If you want to avoid your business relocation descending into chaos, then follow these essential tips to get it right:

Do Location Research

It’s crucial to choose a location that best fits your organisation’s needs. Frequently, businesses change locations because their current premises are growing too small for their burgeoning numbers. While a new office may provide increased workspace and improved employee morale, there are also external factors to consider:

  • Transport Access: Ensure that your new home is located close to public transport facilities and major arterial roads. This will reduce the chances of your employees being regularly late to work and eliminate the long travel hours that lead to worker burnout and dissatisfaction.
  • Surrounding Amenities: For better or worse, the majority of an employee’s day is spent in the office. There are all kinds of tasks and chores that employees need to do during their lunch hour, from borrowing books at the library to dropping clothes at the dry cleaners, visiting the bank, or buying a new pair of shoes. Additionally, nearby coffee shops or dining options offer workers convenience and flexibility. Make sure that your location doesn’t isolate your workers from the essential cogs of daily life.
  • Parking: If your new digs do not have dedicated parking space, it’s vital to scope out the street parking situation. Insufficient parking availability can cause employees added stress and require them to interrupt their work multiple times per day to feed the meter or move spaces.
  • Safety: Moving to an unsafe area can expose team members to threats to their vehicles, property and person. Female staff, in particular, may struggle if they feel unsafe walking to and from their cars in the evenings after work. A well-lit, secure location in a safe neighbourhood is always a preferred option.

Work Out Your Budget

Carefully evaluate your budget to decide what you are prepared to pay in rental, maintenance, utilities and other costs, and scout several locations before signing a lease. If you’re purchasing a commercial property for owner occupancy, you will need to factor in council rates and other expenses as well. A well-chosen site will ensure that the new business location doesn’t swallow all your company profits.

Conversely, those choosing to rent a commercial property should carefully evaluate their prospective landlord. If discussing and negotiating a lease is turning into a painful experience, it’s a fair bet that they will be at least as equally high-maintenance once you’re settled in.

Find the Best Moving Company

Moving is an expensive proposition, so it can be tempting to cut corners. However, many cheap removalists are also unreliable, unprofessional and sometimes unscrupulous. Narrow down a search to four or five professional commercial removalists, check out their online reviews, and see if they provide a free consultation. Beware of companies that offer only free estimates online. These are notoriously inaccurate and often indicate a lack of transparency.

It’s always a wise idea to utilise your own professional networks or social media to obtain recommendations of trustworthy companies. This will allow you to learn from the experiences of your peers and avoid potentially costly mistakes.

It goes without saying that any moving company should be licensed and insured.

Put Address Change Orders in Place

All your clients, vendors and service providers will have become familiar with your previous location nearly by instinct and need to be told about your impending move, as well as reminded once you’re settled in. Placing a “Please note that my mailing address has moved to…” line at the bottom of emails and on any hard mail will prevent a lot of lost mail and unnecessary stress. Order any letterheads, return labels, business cards, and envelopes well in advance of the move. Arrange mail to be redirected for at least a year and notify anyone who is still sending to the previous address to update their records.

Make Sure It Fits

Perhaps you are downsizing, not expanding. In that case, hard choices need to be made about what comes with you, and what goes. Drawing up a list of what you are taking with you will make the settling in period much smoother and allow your employees to settle into their new location without wasting time.

The same principle applies to your employees’ workspace. Unless you’re subscribing to the recent hotdesking trend and your employees are still grouped by department, it helps to draw up a floor-plan of who will go where before the move actually takes place. We’re territorial creatures, so dividing up space for each department will avoid unnecessary workplace angst or conflict in the post-move period.

Assign Responsibility

Moving is a massive project that requires intricate organisation. Appoint someone – hopefully with experience in relocations – to manage the whole process. That done, select a team to operate under their direction. Approaching the move from a project management perspective will simplify the process, vests authority and responsibility in your staff, and allows them to use their professional skills to benefit the company in another way.

Follow this process and your relocation will be an exemplar of office organisation, rather than the butt of a joke at the end-of-year party.