Murphy’s Law couldn’t fit any situation more perfectly than corporate relocation. No matter how organized, capable or experienced you think you are, things will go wrong. Here are some tips that may help ensure you are still employed after the dust clears:
1) Establish a realistic schedule: When companies create unrealistic schedules, it’s usually not until they get down to the wire that they realize it’s not going to happen. They then have to go through the trouble of canceling 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 that contribute to the time line, 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 realistic budget: As the average company usually doesn’t move more than every seven years or so, they usually don’t realize 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 workman’s 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 hiring movers.
3) Conduct 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) Hire reputable movers: The biggest problem you usually hear about movers is damage to or misplacement of furniture and equipment. But that isn’t the only precaution you need to take. A company might schedule 10 movers and only five show up. You spend months and thousands of dollars making sure your move goes smoothly, then you don’t even have the manpower to make it happen.
Make sure your requirements are clearly laid out in your contract. How many movers do you need? What kind of recourse is there if the moving company doesn’t provide you with the number of movers agreed upon? Will it provide a dependable supervisor? Does the moving company have adequate insurance for lost or damaged property? These things need to be spelled out in writing.
To be sure you hire an experienced, dependable moving company, check references. Make sure that the company has performed jobs of similar scope and that you hire an office and industrial moving company, and not a residential mover.
5) Ensure site preparation: Make sure your movers do proper site preparation. Carts, dollies and careless movers can damage your new floors and walls. If the space is newly renovated, you must lay masonite on the floors. You should protect walls by putting up wall-to-ceiling plastic. Elevators should be padded; there are hooks on most elevator ceilings that make this possible.
6) Devise a box labeling system: If a box is not labeled 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 label the boxes according to floor, department, and office or cubicle.
7) Space – plan for the 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 inches really make a difference in a space plan, and the remedy is not cheap.
8) Evaluate 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.
9) Avoid elevator woes: On the average, you are going to pay movers approximately $25 per man-hour. If your elevator is too slow, you could pay a fortune in unnecessary labor costs. It is always a good idea to test the timing of the elevator in advance to determine whether it is the most efficient way for you to get your property to your new space.
Also, measure all of your furniture and equipment to make sure it will fit in the elevator. If the elevator is too slow or too small, either use the stairs or hoist items up through a window.
10) Communicate with employees: While most employees have little do with a move, it’s still important that there is proper communication of schedules and procedures. E-mail, 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 an “eight-by-eight 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.