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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: How to avoid horror stories by pre-planning your move

September 22, 2008

If you've ever helped a friend move, you probably have horror stories to tell. About showing up to find not a single item boxed up. About countless cross-town trips in overloaded cars. About stacks and stacks of boxes labeled "Misc." Or about unconnected utilities, lost keys, miscommunications, out-of-service elevators...well, you get the picture.

Those kinds of scenarios might cost you years of good-natured teasing after you're moving into your first apartment, but when the move involves a workplace, the stakes are higher.

Operational productivity, worker morale, tight budgets, your organization's reputation and more could be damaged by a poorly planned move.

The good news is that it can be relatively easy to avoid costly mistakes. By planning ahead, you can make your move a smooth one. Following are 10 things you can do before the moving vans arrive to make sure your move goes well.

Add it up

Create a budget that covers all moving needs and expenses; add 10 percent as a contingency cushion. Use your budget as a guide to the moving process.

Check it off

Make a checklist of everything that must be coordinated to make the move go well: vendors, phones (analog or VoIP), data cabling, audio visual, building construction, security, movers, packing, etc.

Hire it out

Figure out which tasks can be handled internally and which should be outsourced. Remember: While it might seem frugal to have your people do some of the work, you must also factor in any lost productivity that results from diverting your employees away from revenue-producing work. When choosing outside vendors, get referrals and check references.

Get connected

As soon as you establish your move date, contact your dial-tone service provider to schedule stop and start dates for your current and new phone system. This is a good opportunity to consider whether you're happy with your current service. Do you want to shop around for a new provider?

Consider special needs

Determine needs for specialized areas such as conference rooms and training rooms. Don't forget items such as data cabling, white boards and audio visual equipment.

Coordinate

Communicate your move timetable to all of your vendors, making sure they coordinate their work. Remember that some vendors will need to collaborate to get their work done; make sure they are able to connect. Determine who will be in charge of each vendor.

Line it up

Many companies don't realize that they often need to reserve service elevator and loading dock time at both the existing and new locations. Be warned: Some loading docks and elevators can only be scheduled after hours, which means you'll likely need to include after-hour labor costs in your budget.

Communicate

Provide detailed move instructions to employees. Let them know what to expect and when. Appoint someone in your organization to function as point person on the move, answering questions and providing up-to-date information. Allow employees to see the new space in development and participate in space planning if possible.

Mind the details

Don't forget about your common spaces and shared equipment. Did someone pack up the stuff in the break room and conference rooms? What about your copy room -did the supplies get packed? Who will remove artwork and hang it in the new location?

Clean it up

Make sure you get everything out of your old space, and do what's expected of you before you leave.

Are you required to clean the space before turning over the keys? Who will do that? What repairs should you make? What will you do with any furniture or equipment you no longer want? Will you donate it, have an employee garage sale, auction it off or liquidate it? Make sure you have a plan and budget for this.

Every move comes with a few surprises and challenges, but if you follow these simple steps, you'll avoid many of the horror stories that too often mar a move. You'll keep your people focused on your new space and the new opportunities it offers, and you'll see their morale and productivity increase after the move is completed.

On the other hand, bungle the process and, unlike in your college days, it will cost a lot more than a pizza and a six-pack to make amends.



Brown is a principal with Relocation Strategies Inc., an Indianapolis-based move-coordinating company. Views expressed here are the writer's.
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