I’ve moved my home 12 times, through 3 cities and 2 countries. There are many books and articles and posts about how to best manage moving your life and your kids. I’ve also moved my business twice, and I have found it to be almost as time consuming and disruptive as moving house. Since I unpacked my last box today, the time seems right to share some thoughts on how to survive an office move.
1. Don’t trust the phone company
When calling to move your business line and internet, document everything. Get a case number and employee number. Ask for an emailed confirmation if at all possible. In a month I spoke to the phone company 3 times and received different information on every call. In the end, the technician who came for a site visit transferred services to our not-yet-occupied office – and we had no phone service for 3 days. Perhaps #1 should be “use every stress management technique you have.”
2. Inform your clients
Use voicemail, email, blog, Facebook, Twitter, or other tools to let your customers know about your move. If your business has a storefront, there will be lots of signage and marketing ahead of time to ensure everyone can find you in your new location. For home-based or service businesses, your move will be less visible to your clients. Ask them for patience, and give yourself space to get plugged in, unpacked, and organized.
3. Review & Refresh
Maybe your move is to accommodate business growth or change. Perhaps it to get a better location or rent. Regardless, don’t simply relocate your old set up in your new space. Take this opportunity to reconsider what space your business requires. Talk to a business coach, an organizer, a decorator, or your employees for ideas. An office move should be planned months ahead, and set up a budget to allow for new desks, filing, storage, signage, and decor. At the end of a move, you should be rewarded with a renewed and refreshed space to do business.
During the review and refresh process, look for places to purge. Desk drawers you haven’t opened for awhile. Boxes of records you no longer need. Computer programs you no longer use. Dumping out of date stuff and freeing yourself from junk will go a long way towards feeling that the office move is worth all the effort.
An office move requires the help of many support services, and their screwups are outside of your control. Expect some delays and set backs, and schedule your work accordingly. Happily, my staff was functional the day after the move, so business could carry on. This left me to deal with the thousand other details and followups, but my email box and task list were neglected. My best advice for how to survive an office move is to reschedule meetings and deadlines to allow yourself enough downtime. If that means hiring extra staff or using a VA to manage your business, then build that into your move budget.