You guys, moving makes me tired.
Anyone reading this has moved at some point. Moving from one residence to another is a grueling process (in my honest opinion). I should know, I've done it a few times. In the last 18 years, I have moved 9 times, so it's not my first rodeo. I really thought moving an office would be pretty similar.
Nope! Wrong. I couldn't have been more wrong.
While the actual process of moving is the same as residential shifts (packing, loading, & unpacking), there were a lot of other fun little tasks associated with an office move that popped up to get in my way.
I'm going to share with you some of my take-aways from what has been one doozie of a move.
Make a Moving Checklist
Checking a box off of a list gives me a true jolt of happiness. Check! Job well done, me!
Do yourself a favor and make yourself a detailed checklist of all the things you need to do in order to get your move over and done with. You would be surprised how many little things pop up that you need to remember, and without proper documentation, things WILL fall through the cracks.
I had a couple of checklists going. Pre and post-move checklists, accounts to be changed, and of course a checklist of purchases to make.
If you don't use some form of organizational software for major life events, I highly recommend checking out Trello. Trello allowed me to house my checklists, tasks to be done, and documentation all in one spot. It's a glorious tool that allows you to organize your life. Ok, plug over, moving on.
Early Decisions & Reservations
I began looking for movers about 2 months before our actual move. If you want to get the best company for the job on the dates you want, you have to move on them as soon as you made your decisions. I wanted to be sure I got the exact dates I wanted, so I made our reservations early.
I had our internet and alarm installs booked for the day after the move so the office could be up and running within 24 hours of the move. At a digital agency, not having internet for even one day is a huge obstacle.
One thing I missed out on was being able to get new carpeting installed. This was a decision I should have made sooner. The process of quoting and actually doing any remodeling takes a LONG time. I missed the boat on that one. We'll have old carpet for a while, lesson learned.
Create a Work-back Schedule
I love a plan. A plan makes me feel like I have control over situations where there are a lot of variables. I knew that in order to get this move done on time and at a reasonable budget, I would have to have a solid plan with specific dates.
I started with the last day we had to occupy our old office and worked backwards. To give you some idea how long this process took, I started planning in December for a March move.
I used my trusty Google calendar to keep all my install dates and other tasks happening in a timely manner.
I used Trello to keep track of my progress.
Communicate With Your Team
Moving your house makes actually living in it next to impossible. The same could be said for moving a business, but the difference is when moving your business, you have to avoid interrupting the daily flow of your team. Client work still needs to be done. Stranding your team without their resources for an extended period of time isn't an option.
Keep your team in the loop. They need to know when significant move events are happening, like the actual moving day or when there won't be any internet available. Are the lights getting shut off at some point? They'll need to know that.
For this purpose, I used our shared Google Calendar and made a calendar that shared important move events. I invited my team so they knew exactly when things were going down so they could plan accordingly.
Pro-Tips for Moving an Office
I won't lie and say I perfectly executed this move. Looking back, there were things I would have done differently. But, here are a list of miscellaneous pro-tips I came away with that may help during you office move:
- Remember that your new office, if owned by someone else, will require you to change your business insurance to reflect their building. This takes time, and they may not give you the keys until it's done.
- Plan a month of overlap. We had one month where we technically were occupying two spots, but it allowed us to play with the timeline a little and buffered us against any major delays.
- If you want to paint or carpet, make arrangements AS SOON as you have the keys. Once you're in, it's probably not getting done.
- Hire quality movers. The best decision I made was to find a reputable company who made my life on moving day a breeze (thanks All My Sons!).
- Have a space plan. Your movers are going to ask you where things go, you will need answers so you aren't trying to lug a giant L-shaped desk around on your own.
- Try to have a day when you can set up the basics of the office before the staff gets there. Have the wifi up and running, the alarm access ready to go, kitchen stocked and desks ready to occupy. The goal is to have as little company down-time as possible.
- Remember to contact USPS and forward your mail. You don't want those checks from your clients sitting at your old location.
- Let your clients know ahead of time that you will be setting sail to a new destination so they can give you some slack on delays in communication. Send an email or postcard to all of your clients, contractors, and friends of the company letting them know you've moved a couple of weeks before you actually settle in so your mail has time to catch up.
- Plan an office-warming event for your team and your clients. What better way to have fun at work than showing off your new pad to friends of the company.
If you take away one point from this post, I hope it's to give yourself plenty of time.
Don't procrastinate on anything. Once you have your move in date, start working back from that date.
Don't assume everything will go perfectly and happen on time, it probably won't. There are a lot of people involved in moving an office, and although I know you're an efficient planner, you can't expect everyone else to be.
Moving our business was a great learning experience for me. I'm glad it went well, and I'm really glad I don't have to think about it again for another 3 years!
Moved an office before? Share your pro-tips with us!