Does it seem like your business needs to stop when you are moving your office location? After all, without an internet connection or a phone line, you aren’t able to respond to clients or vendors. And with all your computers and files packed up in boxes, your staff are unable to get hold of the information they need. Finally, without a workspace, your employees won’t have anywhere to work.
But what if there are ways to overcome these logistical challenges and to ensure that your business does not need to shut down for the days taken to pack, move, and finally settle into your new office?
Here are four tips to do just that.
#1 Search for different workspace options
Get creative, because there are many different ways to ensure your staff are available even if your office is moving!
For instance, if most of your staff are not going to be useful during the moving process – like if everything is already packed and ready for the movers – consider letting them work remotely at a cafe, or from home during the hours of the move. Video calls or conference calls can be used if meetings or discussions are needed.
Alternatively, look at how you can stagger the move. This is doable if there is an overlap between the handover time of your old office and the takeover at your new space, or if the move is expected to take more than a day. Let some teams or departments move over first, so only some areas of your business are down at any point of time, and there will always be someone around to manage fresh enquires and handle on-going projects.
Also, look into options for renting a co-work space. These spaces are available for a few days to a month, and will enable staff to work in a conducive space with a stable internet connection while the new office is being set-up. If you are concerned about the increased expenses, remember that co-work spaces are great places to network, so the benefits of your staff meeting potential clients might just offset the costs!
No matter which option you choose, it is important to ensure the necessary data is on shared storage spaces like Dropbox or Google Documents so staff can access what they need.
#2 Take action to minimise downtime
Advanced preparation and thorough planning is key to reduce downtime.
Develop a floor plan and go through this with both your staff and the movers. With this floor plan, professional movers will be able to advise you on your moving schedule, and will know exactly where to place different items when they reach your new office. This can smoothen and speed up the process on moving day.
The floor plan is also useful to staff as they can refer to it for their new seating plan, and will have a better idea of where the facilities they need are located, so they can get back into action as fast as possible.
Also, remember to test the facilities in the new office a few days before you move in! Make sure the internet is up, the lights are working, the toilet can flush and the air-con isn’t leaking. Get the small problems solved before you move, because downtime will only increase when daily operations are halted to make space for the repairman.
#3 Remember, better safe than sorry
Moving is difficult, so don’t assume that your staff know how to pack and move. Instead, provide them with a schedule and specific milestones they have to meet. This will encourage them to include packing duties as part of their daily work, so you do not end up at moving day with important items still unpacked.
Also, one of the biggest challenges to moving office is data loss. This is either because information has not been backed up, or because hardware like computers or hard drives are damaged in the process of the move.
Hiring professional movers can alleviate this problem as they will be careful with your fragile belongings and can provide you with packing items like bubble wrap to protect your items from damage. But to be extra safe, remember to back up all your information not once, or twice, but maybe even three times on different platforms. It is also best that backing up of information is done at regular intervals to avoid a mad rush in the days leading up to the move.
Finally, even if you have hired professional movers, it is useful to have a company representative at both your old and new office on moving day. This can help ensure all queries are handled quickly, smoothing the move and cutting your office down time.
#4 Manage expectations of all your stakeholders
Your three main stakeholders are staff, clients and movers.
Ensure staff have ample preparation for the move so they are able to adjust their project schedules and avoid clashes with moving days. You can also help them ease into the move by anticipating questions and problems that might arise, and addressing it with an FAQ or SOP in advance. If resources allow, it can also be helpful to have a designated representative to handle any queries or problems staff have both before and on moving day.
Existing clients also need to be prepared that your team may be unavailable. Give them sufficient notice so they know to not come in with last minute requests. If there are no resources for anyone to be on standby, ensure that notice of your move is given on your website and social media pages. Also, create an auto-reply on your email system, letting people know how the days and times your company will be moving, and how long they should expect to wait before receiving a reply. This will ensure that clients do not feel ignored and are reassured of your company’s commitment to them.
Your movers are here to help you, so keep them in the loop about your plans, let them know in advance when there are changes, ask questions and be willing to take advice. After all, there may be blindspots and potential problems in your planning that they can easily pick out after their years of experience!
Ultimately, moving office can be a challenge and lead to a fair amount of downtime. Adequate lead-time, proper planning and open communication with the affected parties will work wonders in smoothing the process so that business can operate with as little downtime as possible.