When it comes to pulling off a successful, stress-free office move, detailed planning is the name of the game. From creating a realistic timeline to getting your team on board to locking down vendors, there are countless moving parts to consider. When you are juggling all of these tasks on top of a packed schedule preparing for an office move can feel overwhelming.
This is precisely why Managed by Q put together this comprehensive guide to planning your office move. We've left no stone unturned, covering everything you need to know about making your next office move as straightforward and easy as possible.
Here, we've distilled this information into an easy-to-digest list of valuable takeaways, peppered with advice from some in-the-know experts. If you've got an office move on the horizon, this is what you need to know.
Get real about your office move timeline
The sooner you can start planning, the better. In an ideal world, you'll have six months to confirm your new space, identify vendors, and lay the foundation for a well-organized office move. But real-life plans, as we all know, tend to be far more precarious; leases fall through, renovations run over time, and the office manager is usually the one coming up with a last-minute Plan B.
"I'd say a month to a month-and-a-half is a solid amount of time for a move, but you have to dedicate a lot to it," says Jamie Gray, Global Office Operations Manager at Hired. Gray currently manages 12 offices worldwide and has facilitated somewhere between 15 to 20 commercial moves.
You'll want to create a tentative timeline for securing a reliable moving company (more on that in a bit), packing up your existing office, moving in, getting settled, and communicating the plans to your team. Before your head starts spinning, keep in mind that "tentative" is the operative word here. Timelines and details will evolve; Gray's best advice is to lean into the chaos and roll with the changes as much as you can.
Find the right moving company
The last place you want to cut corners is with the moving company. Do your research and connect with more than one company to compare prices and services. Gray usually gets three quotes from a variety of commercial moving companies.
"Really take inventory of everything you have, listing every single piece of furniture, all your kitchen equipment, and anything else you have," says Alessandro Ciari, Director of Communications for Movers, Not Shakers!, an eco-friendly moving company that specializes in office moves. "This is what's really going to help you get the most accurate quote."
If possible, scheduling a walkthrough of your new space is also a good idea. Reach out to the building management company beforehand regarding any important details. For example, will they let you move in on a weekday? If not, accessing the loading dock on a night or weekend may increase your expenses.
Open the lines of communication
Open and active communication is the best way to stave off mid-move surprises. To start the new relationship off on the right foot, Gray likes to set up a meeting with the new landlord soon after signing the lease.
"It's a great way to get a full information download from them and orient yourself with the building," she says. "I also like to ask where other tenants go wrong and have bothered them so that we don't make the same mistakes or fall into patterns they don't like."
From there, bring your team into the fold so that everyone's on the same page. Relay things like the new address, local transit, the date of the move, if you need volunteers, and any major changes to expect at the new space. The main objective is to brief everyone on the office move timeline, especially when it comes to deadlines for cleaning out personal workspaces. Just make sure the ink is dry on the lease before spilling the beans, which will minimize any potential confusion down the line.
"I recommend setting up a weekly or even twice-a-week office move check-ins with all your key stakeholders, from IT to the design team, to make sure everyone's feeling good about the timeline and being flexible if need be," adds Gray.
Reach out to vendors
This one's a biggie. Start off by listing out every vendor you currently use, along with their contact information and price. This includes internet service providers, along with whoever handles your power, water, trash, gas, key cards, security alarms and so on. Will they be able to follow you to the new space? Are there any new services you need to lock down in your new building? These are details you'll want to get organized as soon as possible.
"About 50 percent of the time, we're able to keep our same vendors," says Gray. "The thing that can catch some vendors is that bigger buildings require a Certificate of Insurance (COI), and different buildings have different dollar amounts they need covered through that."
Hired's last building in San Francisco had a $5 million COI. As a result, they lost a handful of vendors simply because they couldn't meet the COI requirements for the building. If that's the case, Gray says that the building manager can usually recommend vendors to fill in the gaps or you can work with Managed by Q to identify vendors that meet your needs. That said, it's a good idea to confirm COI details with your property management company no later than two weeks before the move.
"It's really important to go through a couple points of administration with the building as soon as possible, from acquiring Certificates of Insurance to reserving elevator slot times," adds Ciari.
Insurance aside, one of the most important vendors to lock down is an Internet provider. According to Gray, it takes a lot of commercial buildings 90 days to get it up and running. "It's not a flip of the switch, as one would expect."
In the end, it's one of many moving parts in a big-picture office move. As the old saying goes, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. In that spirit, break your to-do list down into a realistic timeline, then tackle it bit by bit and use the Office Moves Made Easy overview and checklist from Managed by Q to guide you.
Photography by Julia Robbs and Melissa Morgan Walbridge