Moving your company can be a complex task. GEOFF WARNER from ABR Relocations draws up a list of what can go wrong, and suggests strategies to prevent problems.
Murphy’s Law couldn’t fit any situation more perfectly than the business of moving.
No matter how organised, capable, or experienced you think you are, things can go wrong.
Here are some tips that may help ensure you are still employed after the dust clears:
1. Establish a sensible schedule
When a company tries to create unrealistic schedules, it’s usually not until they get down to the wire that they realise it’s not going to happen. They then have to go through the trouble of cancelling and rescheduling, which confuses people and causes a big mess due to the sheer number of people who are affected by a move. There are multiple factors or components that contribute to the timeline, including: size of the facility, and the scope of work involved (i.e. new construction vs. tenant improvements, whether or not planning and design of the new facility is complete, and lead times for ordering new equipment).
2. Create a sensible budget
Most people also grossly underestimate the cost of their move. As the average company doesn’t move more than every seven years or so, people usually don’t realise how much it will really cost. Cutting corners in the beginning often leads to costly remedies in the end. For example, sometimes companies decide to save money by having their employees handle the move. In the end, however, the damage from workers compensation issues that arise, not to mention the employee time wasted due to their lack of knowledge of what must be done, greatly outweighs the extra cost of engaging movers.
3. Conduct IT systems testing
Make sure there has been proper testing of systems. Studies have shown that even 100 employees down for half a day can cost a company in excess of $50,000. Many things can go wrong with telecommunication and computer systems; you need to leave yourself plenty of time to thoroughly test your systems so this downtime doesn’t occur.
4. Ensure site preparation
Make sure your removalists do proper site preparation. Computer trolleys, dollies, and careless movers can damage your new floors and walls. If the space is newly renovated, you must protect doors, door jambs and walls prior to any goods entering the building. If you are moving furniture, for instance, you should protect walls by putting up wall protection. Elevators should be padded; there are hooks on most elevator ceilings that make this possible.
5. Devise a box labelling system
If a box is not labelled properly, it could take weeks for it to get to the proper department. Make sure employees are well schooled on their preparation. We often suggest that boxes be numbered: one of 20, two of 20, three of 20, and so on. You should also use a different colour label on the boxes according to floor, or department within the floor.
6. Space plan for the office furniture
Quite often, furniture dimensions are approximated incorrectly, and a room that is laid out with the intention of fitting 15 workstations, for example, fits only 12. A few centimetres really make a difference in a space plan, and the remedy is not cheap.
7. Consider your responsibilities
If you’re the person managing the move for your company, evaluate your current responsibilities to make sure neither the move nor your normal job is getting neglected.
Unless the person designated has a job that does not require 40 hours a week, it is virtually impossible to pull off both. As the move gets closer, the number of hours that need to be devoted to the project increases. Tasks can fall through the cracks or are simply overlooked, resulting in higher costs. Delegating responsibilities before and during the move can prevent problems.
8. Communicate with staff
While most employees have little to do with a move, it’s still important that there be proper communication of schedules and procedures. Email, flyers, and newsletters are good ways to keep employees up to date. When it comes time for the big day, however, the fewer employees involved the better. They may interfere with the move, opening the door for problems.
Employee morale is another potential problem. This is especially true if a company is moving from a space where everyone has private offices to an open-office space.
Employees have a difficult time going from their corner office with a view to a ‘2.4-by-2.4 cube’ without feeling like they have been demoted. Proper communication can help combat this before it becomes a problem. Usually, employees become unhappy if they are not told what is going on with the planning of the move. An informed employee is usually a happy employee.
9. Hire a reputable moving company
While the biggest problem you usually hear about regarding movers is damage to, or misplacement of, furniture, equipment and building’s surfaces, these aren’t the only dangers you need to be aware of.
A moving company might schedule your move and then book additional moving jobs, leaving your move under resourced. You spend months and thousands of dollars making sure your move goes smoothly, then you don’t even have quality manpower or equipment required to make it happen quickly and efficiently.
Make sure the responsibilities of both the moving company and your organisation are clearly laid out in the mover’s proposal.
- Who is responsible for sequential packing and reloading the common filing areas or Compactus Filing systems?
- What will be the start time, duration and finish time for the moving?
- What numbers of movers will be onsite?
- What experience do this crew have?
- How many supervisors will be onsite? What experience do the supervisors have?
- Will the moving company general manager or owner be on site in case there is need for last-minute operational strategy changes?
- How will the moving company protect the buildings from damage?
- Does the mover provide on loan a range of specialist equipment, and packaging that will reduce potential downtime to your business?
- Does the moving company have adequate insurance for lost or damaged property?
The abovementioned items need to be spelled out in writing. To be sure you engage an experienced, dependable moving company, check three recent references (not hand-picked references to make the mover look reputable).
Make sure that the company has performed jobs of similar scope and that you hire an office and industrial moving company (and not residential movers). An experienced office mover knows that the difference between a residential and commercial move is as different as night and day.
Geoff Warner started his first office moving company when he was 22 years old. After selling to a multinational moving company, in 1997 Geoff started his second company, Melbourne-based ABR Relocations. During the past 22 years Warner has learnt and further developed systems and methods that exceed the ‘run of the mill’ standards offered by many other operators in the office removals/moving industry. Now, aged 44, he has the passion and drive required to develop and manage Auckland, Brisbane and Melbourne-based office moving companies. Warner’s current role as director at ABR Relocations includes managing his current operational, administration and marketing teams, while continuing to improve develop systems and methods that will further enhance the present service offered to corporate and government sectors in Australia.