How to Prepare for an Office Move
Moving an entire office like a pro is possible, all with the right planning, execution, and celebration strategy. No matter how big or small your team or space is, an office move should include these seven elements in order to to be successful:
- Communications plan
- Team analysis
- Logistical plan
- Feedback strategy
Our team moved into a new building last fall and recently expanded our office space even further. We had plenty of learning experiences throughout the process and we’re here to share our tips with you.
I was a little nervous as I had just joined the team three weeks prior to the move, and wasn’t sure what to expect or how the dynamics were going to be. Thankfully, the team was extremely helpful and we were able to get through the move an hour earlier than originally planned which left more time for our celebratory lunch!
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."–Helen Keller
An office move has many moving parts (literally). Creating a task force saves time, brings new ideas to the table, and helps with breaking the project into smaller, more manageable chunks.
A task force could be an internal team or include external partners like realtors, designers, and movers. Either way, you’ll want representation (or feedback) from all departments, someone who has experience with moving, someone with an eye for design, and someone who can help plan the logistics of the move.
Creating a task force is one of the first steps that should be taken when you know there’s a move in the future.
2. Communications Plan
A thoughtful communications plan is key in any sort of major change in the workplace. An average full-time employee spends 2,040 hours working a year, and a change in their environment could greatly affect their performance.
Radical Candor is a communication strategy we use at Bonusly. It’s a guiding star to care deeply and challenge each other directly in an effort to better the team as a whole. Radical Candor helps your team throughout an office move to focus on the task at hand and let all voices be heard.
A communications plan should have the following:
- Intent - why are you moving?
- Audience - who are you trying to reach and why?
- Goals - what do you want to accomplish?
- Logistics - what’s the timeline, new office plan, what needs to be done, and by who?
- Invitation for feedback - how can we improve this plan?
- Celebration - once the move is complete, how will you celebrate the hard work?
You’ll need to consider which medium to use to communicate the plan. Is it during an all-hands meeting, a Slack channel, an email, or something else? What time/day will it be announced? Who will be the point person for questions? How will you communicate it with external stakeholders?
Communication is essential for team buy-in. Frequent, open communication will help ease any concerns related to the move and create better opportunities for feedback.
3. Team Analysis
A team analysis will look different depending on the size of the team, space, whether it’s a satellite office or headquarters, and the number of departments.
A member of the task force and/or department leads should talk with their teams about their wants and needs for a workspace, and any other factors that could affect their work. This could be in a survey, face to face conversation, group conversation, or whichever method works best for your team.
In Bonusly’s case, we split our headquarters into two office spaces within our building. After looking at the current team size, projected growth, and collaboration between the departments, we decided marketing, product, and customer success would share the larger space, and sales and general administration would share the other space.
Transparency and feedback throughout the team will ensure team members feel heard and comfortable with the outcome of the move.
- External help like movers, cleaners, interior designers (or use volunteers from the team)
- Supplies (tape, boxes, dolly, roller carts, bubble wrap, cleaning, etc.)
- Furniture/equipment (couches, desks, rugs, decoration, shelves, curtains, etc.)
- Food (snacks if using volunteers, a celebratory meal, drinks, etc.)
To help you get started, here's our very own Office Move Budget Template!
5. Logistical Plan
Creating a timeline with logistics for each step will make the moving process smoother, help the team stay on budget, and provide a realistic idea of what to expect. The following factors should be included:
- Day-of plan
A timeline includes expectations on when packing will start and when the team will be moved into the new space, with milestones for tasks throughout the process. This timeline should be shared with the entire team. Another aspect to consider is when the actual move will happen. Is it during the weekend or weekday, end of day or morning, will you close the business for the day or will the team need to work remotely? Do you need to notify other tenants of the building?
Take a tour of your new space to check the dimensions, outlets, HVAC vents, lighting, and any other physical features that will affect your design and team layout. If there’s a kitchen, check if there’s anything that needs to be bought or donated. This will help inform the design of the space.
Our team realized there were only outlets on one side of the room two days out from our move. This created a bit of panic on the team and nearly put a halt on the entire schedule. Thankfully, some innovative team members figured out a way to safely utilize extension cords and power strips so each team’s pod would have power just in time to stick to our original schedule.
Office design can improve productivity and purpose at work. Your office should reflect personalities, work styles, and goals for each space. This article covers the ins and outs of designing office space to maximize productivity and help team members feel a sense of purpose.
As for mapping out the new office spaces, we used a Mural Board with dimensions, standing/seated desks, conference rooms, and other furniture like couches so the team could easily visualize what was to come and execute the plan on the day-of.
Ensure hard-copy files with any sensitive employee or business information are hand-delivered by your people ops team or assign someone on the task force to take ownership of the files. By doing so, you’ll prevent loss or misplacement of those sensitive files.
Keys, security systems, parking passes should be collected from the previous office and set up for the new office space.
Laptops, drives, and any other tech or company data should be backed up and locked in a secure location during the move.
SnackNation suggests starting the packing process early and categorizing items by level of importance/usage. For example, you'll want to treat the office air purifier differently than holiday decorations that you only bring out once a year. You can also share an example of a packing list for employees and provide boxes/packing supplies to make this process smoother for all.
This is also an excellent time to evaluate current inventory, tidy up, and donate items that are no longer needed.
Be sure to clearly communicate when items need to be packed or cleared off desks by, and provide support for those who are unable to help move.
Hiring a moving truck/crew could save your team a lot of time and effort, but can get expensive quickly. Surveying your team to see who would be willing/able to help will be key in the planning and budgeting process. Rallying a team together to help move can be a great team bonding activity (as long as it’s volunteer-based). Teammates can get to know more about each other during this process and share some memories that will last a lifetime.
You should also evaluate whether you’ll need to hire a cleanup crew for the space you’re moving out of or if anyone is willing to do it themselves.
Some may not have an eye for design on the team or have a real estate background, so be prepared to do some research if you do not have those resources on your team.
A day-of plan needs to be communicated clearly and most likely, multiple times. By this point, you should know who is willing to help, what day/time it’s happening, and have a solid game plan for the design. Remember to include details like:
- Who will provide a fun playlist/speaker for move music
- Who will print out the new layout and display it for the team
- Where will recycling or donations need to go
- What food/drink will be provided for helpers
- Will there be teams dedicated to moving specific categories of items
Creating a checklist will help ensure nothing is forgotten and give a sense of accomplishment for those involved.
Once everything is said and done, it’s time to celebrate the great work that went into such a big process. Consider sending a bonus to each team member involved, or it could be a team meal, game day, thank you letter from the CEO, or another reward.
Employee recognition is a crucial part of organizational culture––and an office move most definitely calls for a celebration of each team member.
7. Feedback Strategy
Last but not least, providing a platform for employee feedback will be crucial in creating the most effective workspace for your team. After moving in, there may be changes that weren’t obvious at the beginning for improving collaboration or design or employee comfort levels, and inviting feedback will help bring those solutions to life. The feedback could be collected in the form of a survey, small groups, Mural Board, or 1:1s with direct reports. Whichever method, collecting the feedback will help everyone feel heard and appreciated. Check out these tips for giving constructive feedback if you’re struggling to provide feedback on a situation.
An office move is an exciting milestone for your organization. With proper planning, open communication and a positive attitude, you will help set your team up for success throughout the entire process.
Remember to praise team members during all of the steps. These little wins will help boost enthusiasm and motivation for the project.
Feel free to change any of the steps to best fit your organizational needs and desires. If you have any questions, please reach out. Best of luck with your move!