How to Plan an Office Move Without Disrupting Your Business

Moving offices requires significant preparation and planning. It can be a stressful, complex and costly process, which needs adequate time to implement. Without a detailed plan, this exciting time for growth in your company could have negative impacts on both staff and business costs.

When it comes to planning an office move without disrupting your business, Karren Skillings, Principle at Skillings Education, offers the following  tips:

“1. A successful relocation is 90% planning and 10% delivery.

“2. Every successful project needs a process plan.

“3. Managing large office moves is challenging.

“4. Clients are always surprised at how much planning is really required to pull off a relocation.

“5. Don’t let anyone understate what you need to know or plan for during this time.”

Paul J. Lange, Owner of www.paullange.com.au, says: “I previously held roles leading network and telecoms teams, including for AEGON Insurance, the largest insurance company in the Netherlands. I’ve also had businesses in disaster recovery and business continuity, including physical facilities as temporary workspaces. Thus means I’ve overseen several office migrations in Europe and Australia.

“No business should suffer disruption due to office moves, irrespective of industry or size of company. What is impacted by size is the amount of time required for planning, and the actual logistics respective of employee communication and engagement. Internet/network and telecoms should be a non-event. Precisely what you need to look out for depends on the size of the company.”

Rob Boirun, CEO of The Reviewster Network, adds: “When we moved our office downtown last year, we approached it if a few phases so that there was zero downtime.

“First, we overlapped 1 month in our office rent so that we had 30 days ‘just in case’ and also to give ample time to get everything moved. The new office location had all the same ‘tech’ in place as the old, including T1 lines, WiFi routers, Cat 5 connections at each desk, telecom lines, etc.. This ensured that what ‘keeps us running’ was in place so that we could move over in waves.

“Starting with the sales team, we then moved over all their equipment: computers, phones, fax, etc.. over a weekend so that on Monday the sales team could pick up exactly where they left off on Friday. This worked great, then we moved the rest of the team over the next weekend. This left of with two weeks of making sure everything was running as normal which gave everyone peace of mind during the transition. Having a good plan in place before is a great way to ensure a successful transition.”

However, Tina Chou, Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Ellyot, says: “I feel that having the right digital architecture in place to combat complex office moves is the first starting point. It’s my POV that if companies start adopting smart-working and using digital tools and platforms that help to manage remote working, office moves will be made easier.”

To begin your new chapter with confidence, take a look at our guide to make sure everything is in place in plenty of time.

Before you choose a new site

When choosing a new location for your business activities, the new site should not only accommodate your growing workforce but also provide the foundations you need for a smooth transition. Some considerations to make before selecting a new site include:

  • Is there sufficient cell service?
  • What sort of connectivity is available? Some services can be unavailable or extremely costly and time consuming to install?

Malcolm Joosse, Director at Hotline IT, understands the important of starting early when planning an office move. He says: “When a client advises us they plan to relocate, we get them to provide us with a shortlist prospective locations. Once they have a shortlist, we carry out a Tech survey of each site and rank them, based on the sites tech readiness. Sometimes this process takes months, as clients are looking at locations that would be costly to provision their requirements in and many sites are unsuitable due to their lack of tech infrastructure.”

This is a sentiment shared by Will, the Founder of Fully Gaming. He says: “Start as soon as possible. The earlier you start trying to plan out the specifics, then the earlier you will start to notice problems. The earlier you notice these problems, the better because you can start to get them sorted nice and quickly so that when it comes to moving day, you have already smoothed out a lot of the road bumps.”

Ryan Jones, Junior Sales & Marketing Associate at ACI Inspired Workspaces, adds: “one of my best tips for before you even start choosing a site is to ensure you have a great office fit-out provider in place. Some of the best office fit-out companies will also offer free space planning and office relocation services, allowing you to choose the best office for your needs even before you start laying out large amounts of money to buy an office building.”

12 – 6 months before the move

When you have chosen the location of your new office, identifying the biggest challenges you will face due to the move is the next step. If you can reduce the complexity of the office move, you reduce the chance of things going wrong. For example:

  • If you have legacy onsite servers, can they be virtualized well ahead of the move date?
  • If you have an On-Premises PBX, why not consider moving to a new VoIP system, which can be bedded in before the move takes place.

Solutions for the above initial findings should be considered carefully before committing, as delays and further problems could be costly for the business.

6 months before the move

If you are moving to a location that needs a total refit, allowing sufficient time for installing cabling and connectivity is vital. If the new building already has other business working from there it is likely that some providers will already have connectivity available. Take a look at the below lead times for connectivity installation to schedule in sufficient time.

  • Ethernet cable installation: 6 – 18 weeks
  • Peer-to-Peer (P2P) network connection: 4 – 16 weeks
  • DSL connectivity: 2 – 3 weeks
  • T1 line – can vary dependent on your provider

Aaron Fisher, CEO of My Infotech Partner, adds: “Depending on the size of your business and the type of internet connection (or if you have other data services in place), it can take 3 months or more to get services activated. Before moving your people and equipment make sure your in house IT or outsourced IT team has confirmed that all 3 services are active at your new location.

“Time and time again I’ve seen it where deadlines are missed and people have moved offices with no phones and no internet, and they’re essentially unable to do business.”

3 months before the move

As you get closer to the move, backing up essential data is recommended to ensure a smooth transition. At this stage, the details of how the move will be implemented will need to be planned and finalized.

When developing the plan for the moving phase, it is important to consider whether it will happen in one effort or over a staged period. You will also need to ensure that you communicate to all staff when the date of the move will take place and get everyone prepared for potential disruption.

Philip Brookes, Founder of Aktiv Digital, says: I recommend that all businesses do at least preliminary investigations at least 3 months before they intend to move, and longer if they are a large organisation or have complex environments. The most frequent surprises come when the business discovers that the new location does not have access to the same quality internet, or that there will be an extended delay having new connections installed, so you want to discover that as early as possible.”

1 month until the move

As the time draws closer, getting teams prepared is essential for a smooth moving day. At this point is also a great idea to get everyone to do some housekeeping, not just for their desk and filing systems, but also their computer. This will help clear out any unnecessary files on the server, so backing up is easier to implement.

2 weeks until the move

With only a few weeks to go, everything should be on schedule for the final move date. It is important to check everything is set up in the new office to provide a smooth transition and backups of all data need to be made over this period to make sure everything is safely stored for access in the new location.

The Moving Man advises: “It is important to let the utility companies know 1 to 2 weeks before you plan to move. Remember to inform them of your scheduled move date when you want to disconnect your internet and phone services, and when you want to start your new services at your new premises. Ensure you clarify with them if there will be any delay or lag time on their end for the reconnections, so you don’t get stuck.”

Big office moves can prove a stressful period for any business, but with effective planning, you’ll reap the rewards of a growing team.