Moving your business from one office to another is rarely a fun process. Between cleaning up the old space, redesigning the new space and making sure every employee has a smooth transition, the experience is generally time consuming and stressful. Since National Business Furniture recently moved offices in May 2016, we interviewed some of the key players who were tasked with executing the move to find out what they thought about the process and to share their advice. These are the lessons they learned from their experience.
When it comes to a big move, timing is everything. Make sure you’re prepared for the worst case scenario, and start your planning as early as possible to prevent the worst from occurring. For the big NBF move, we hired a moving company that had served us well in the past, but they did not schedule a large enough moving crew on the days we hired them for, which pushed our overall timeframe out dangerously into the weekend, leaving us unsure if we’d be able to open up shop again the following Monday. The lesson learned here is that your contract with your moving company should include a minimum crew size and a minimum number of moving trucks to ensure it can all get done within the timeframe you expect. You should also try to avoid moving on the last day of the month because moving crews are often overbooked at that time.
In addition to working out every detail of the timing of your move, make sure you’ve budgeted correctly as well. Movers, designers and architects can sometimes charge hidden fees or upsell services at the last minute, so over-budgeting will ensure you have a cushion in case extra costs are incurred.
NBF General Manager Rick Wachowiak went so far as to say, “If I could do it again, I would have assigned a project manager to the move at almost a full-time status. I would have had the project manager meet with all key individuals early on to discuss the scope of the move and to agree on the budget and timeframe. Having a go-to person to reach out to when problems arise is the best way to reduce stress and prevent things from going south during a move. It is a huge undertaking, so allow more time and budget than you initially think you’ll need.”
Enforce Hard Deadlines
When moving large pieces of furniture and equipment in large quantities, deadlines need to be made and they need to be enforced by any means necessary. Not only should you give employees deadlines for cleaning out their desks at the old building and setting up their spaces at the new building, but you should also give deadlines to everyone involved in any part of the process. Old building managers, new building managers, architects, movers, interior designers and even the smallest players should be notified of when their work must be done by.
In regard to the need for deadlines, NBF President Kent Anderson said, “I wish I would have included a hard and fast deadline in the contract with our architects that included a penalty for being late.”
Keeping deadlines for every step of the move will ensure everything happens in order and on time, which is sure to reduce stress immensely.
There’s something to be said for staying organized. Before anything is moved from your old office to your new one, make sure it is carefully labeled with a color coded tag so that the moving company will know exactly where to put it and how to handle it. Many moving companies use this tactic as part of their services, but you can help by ensuring that everything is in its proper place and ready to go before the movers show up.
Once everything is moved into your new building, make sure you have the manpower to get it all set up. For most businesses, this will require proper communication with your movers, interior designers, IT department and employees, all of whom will play crucial roles in unpacking equipment and supplies.
Never Make Assumptions
When it comes to planning the layout in your new office, never assume your existing furniture will fit into the space the way you picture it in your head. Send someone to the new office to obtain the exact measurements of each individual space. Then measure your existing furniture and note the dimensions of any new furniture you’ll have coming in to ensure it will fit into the space the way you want it to.
NBF Vice President of Multi-Channel Marketing Dean Stier learned the hard way that one must never assume everything will work out as planned. “As with any large-scale project, there will be surprises you didn’t account for. One issue I had was that our building’s CAD drawings were off just a few inches on one particular wall. That made one of my office build-outs not fit as planned. We were able to correct it fairly easily, but it was a good lesson in not making assumptions. Also, I pushed the boundaries a bit on the timing of ordering all the furniture. We got it in time, but a bit too close for comfort!”
At NBF, we offer complimentary space planning services to our customers to streamline this process. When you work with a company’s in-house space planner, the designers will already have superior knowledge of the products they’re mapping out for you, meaning they’ll have the tools and the experience needed to create a functional space for your business.
Another key component to organizing your move well will be to ensure that your furniture and equipment will make it out of your old building and into your new building painlessly. Vice President of Merchandising Randy Farah dealt with this particular issue first hand.
“Make sure all spaces are measured before you finalize the moving agreement. Our elevator was not large enough for some things which really delayed moving the largest pieces of furniture,” Farah said.
Unfortunately, the movers we hired damaged elevators in our old building and damaged some of our furniture in their effort to move everything quickly with limited manpower. By double checking measurements of furniture, elevators and stairwells, you can get a better idea for whether or not your furniture will be able to fit through the door. A little more work taking measurements at the beginning of the process will save a lot more work at the end.
Consider Employee Opinions
A move to a new office is the perfect time to make big changes to the way the physical space looks and operates. Be sure to get employee input before making any hasty decisions about your furniture and layout choices. It’s important to get your employees involved early on to learn what they need to feel great at work. Once you have enough input, you can create options that best suit each type of employee. But without a doubt, having space planners like NBF’s team makes a world of difference in ensuring your space will work out right.
Anderson gives his personal advice on the matter, saying, “Consider engaging a change management guru to help with the transition. Also, if moving from a very desirable address to a less desirable one, spend generously on the facility to compensate for that negative. We have also learned how an impressive office space and common areas can help recruit new employees – another reason to not scrimp on the project.”
You’ll know about the upcoming move well before it happens, so take the time to reach out to your employees for their input as early as possible. They’ll be thankful that you value their opinions, and you’ll reap the benefits of happier employees down the road. Give employees some say as to what their space will look like and what the furniture will be comprised of, but don’t get too bogged down with countless requests for changes.
Have your own tips for moving to a new office? Share them in the comments below!