If your business is expanding, you’ll likely be planning an office relocation.
You’re in good company.
There is a high demand for office space in Canadian cities like Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary. And despite increased investments in commercial construction, downtown vacancies are low. Rates are falling in suburban areas as well.*
Commercial moves are on the rise, yet too few businesses have a documented relocation strategy in place.
Many of our new clients tell us their previous moving experience was marred by confusion, resulting in added expense, misdirected or lost items, and undue stress.
So how can your office avoid these same moving problems?
To start, your relocation project needs strategic direction.
Here’s what an effective office relocation strategy should include:
A Task Force
A team dedicated to your office relocation is a moving task force. It’s comprised of external partners like realtors, property managers, designers, and office movers. Internal members from facility management, human resources and finance will bring complementary skills together to work as one cohesive group. The number of people you can dedicate to office relocation activities will depend on the size of your team and the scope of your move. You may consider adding members-at-large from other departments. At a minimum, you should consult with every department to evaluate their needs. This way you'll be sure to represent the interests of your entire organization.
Timelines help you manage time and other resources more effectively by bringing visibility to each stage of the moving process. They also encourage a realistic view of the total time it will take to complete your move. Your team will see where they’re headed - both short and long term - by viewing complex projects in small, manageable parts along a timeline. When planning a timeline for your project, consider your operational needs. Plan to move during your least busy time of year. If that’s not possible, you can reduce disruption to your workflow in other ways. Systematize the packing process and be prepared. It’s never to early to start planning once an office relocation is confirmed.
Moving milestones are key steps in the moving process that mark your accomplishments and signal when the next phase is underway. Punctuate your timeline with milestones to keep your office relocation on track. This is necessary for multiphase moving where you’ll need a detailed plan to cover the life cycle of the project. But smaller moves can also benefit from using milestones to mark their progress. Sample milestones include: booking movers, finalizing the design of your new space, completing construction, successfully moving a department, IT setup, and anything else that will define your overall schedule.
Answers to Key Questions
Your office relocation strategy should answer every important question about your move. Specify who and what will move at each stage according to your overall business objectives and relocation schedule. Hint: Questions that must be answered in advance involve anything with numbers. For example: how many employees are moving, how many moving boxes are needed, how much inventory is being moved versus how much is going into storage, what is the budget? Dates and deadlines.
Support For Employees
To reduce stress associated with moving offices, department managers should meet with their employees to determine their needs - and be as proactive in supporting them as possible. Employees who have families, for example, will have a different set of concerns than young-singles or near-retirees. Everyone’s concerns deserve equal time and attention. Provide opportunities for staff to ask questions and get more information. Bring move managers in to answer practical questions about moving day. Depending on the scale of your move, you many also choose to provide staff relocation packages.
A Communications Plan
Engage everyone from staff and partners to clients and the general public, so they feel personally invested in - and excited about - your relocation. Developing a communications plan in advance will allow management to prepare professional, thorough communications. This will ensure everyone understands their roles, responsibilities and accountabilities in a timely manner without overwhelming them. We recommend you communicate an office move with a variety of tools to keep people engaged. They can be as simple as regular status meetings and email updates or more robust tools like project management software. Make sure everyone knows the plan for moving day, where they should be, when they are moving, and how they will gain access to the new building. Exchange contact names and number with your moving team so decision-makers can be reached during the move.
A Design Plan
Conduct several walk-throughs to assess the new office with space planners and designers. Review your current assets - from technology to furniture. Then, decide what will move from your current office, what must be purchased, and where it’s all going to go in the new location. The floor plan and layout are key parts of an effective office relocation. Review these documents with your movers and make sure they have a copy on moving day so that everything is delivered and installed where it needs to be.
Checklists help you prepare and execute your move flawlessly. We can’t emphasize enough, the importance of this simple but powerful tool as part of a successful strategy. Checklists are useful for accomplishing tasks in nearly every aspect of your office relocation including: communications, packing, decommissioning, setting up a new office, vetting movers, ordering supplies, moving day to-do’s ... and more.
When it comes to office relocation, focus on action-oriented goals. Be specific about what you want to achieve during your move - and tie this into bigger picture business goals wherever possible. This will help situate a relocation in the broader context of your business success. For example, if one of your company goals is to improve customer service, your relocation strategy should reflect this. Setting up the new customer service department would take priority in the move. If improving your business image is on the agenda, a related goal might be to complete a branded design before moving in. Consult with all departments to evaluate their needs. Then set departmental moving goals accordingly.
Determine how you’ll measure the success of your move before it happens. Methods for evaluating business performance, communication, costs, and employee satisfaction should all factor into your assessment. You should also plan to assess external partners. They love getting feedback. Documented processes and results are the keys to improving moves that can save your company money now and in the future.
If you need help strategizing your next move, call in the pros. We are strategic planners and office moving experts. Our professional move managers will work with your team to turn strategic ideas into relocation reality.
Source: CoStar 2018 Mid-Year Commercial Real Estate Update and Statistics Canada