Office Move Tips: 6 Things We Learnt During our Move

Posted on September 14, 2016

Planahead

Vocus’ business model is built around our ability to move quickly. As a high-growth company, our success is powered by fast, informed decision making. When it came to packing up our three Perth offices to move to our new Northbridge HQ in March this year, there were countless decisions to be made. 

It definitely wasn’t our first office move as a business, but we still learnt some valuable lessons along the way. More precisely, we discovered 5 key things that are CRITICAL to a successful move. Read on as our IT Operations Manager, Jamie Gray, shares some insight in to our relocation, and the key things to consider throughout your move.


1. Don’t Rely on your Moving Company to Reconnect Your PCs

Many moving companies offer additional services such as disassembling and reassembling your computers. This may seem like an efficient way to manage costs and resources – but we’d advise against it.

This mistake left us with over 50% of our PCs yet to be assembled, with no contingency or additional staff on hand to assist with setup. This was an unnecessary headache and the only way around it was for our project team to input a huge amount of overtime. It’s a mistake we will never repeat.

Our first piece of advice is to assess the size of your IT team against your staff head count. Be realistic about how many machines each IT staff member can assemble on the day.  If they’re going to need extra assistance, there are two options:

Reach out within your team: Don’t be afraid to reach out to your wider team for help. With detailed instructions and processes in place, a small team of additional helpers can reduce pressure and strain on your IT staff on move day. This will also ensure computers are setup by people familiar with the business and equipment.

Professional IT Services: If you’re managing a large move in a short period of time, we recommend hiring professional IT services to assist with install. Professional contractors can help setup quickly and efficiently, especially when working to a detailed floorplan and schedule.


2. Stage the Move to Eliminate Downtime

If your business is like ours, with absolutely no room for downtime, we advise against moving all departments across during the one day.

In our case, we moved our teams in stages to ensure service to our clients wasn’t impacted. In a typical business, this might mean moving corporate services such as admin and HR over at the same time, followed by operational staff on a separate day.

This does mean staff will be working from two different locations for a short period during the move. However, it also means you are able to scale the move based on the size of your teams and minimise the risk of critical departments becoming non-operational throughout the process. 


3. Don’t Forget User-Acceptance Testing

Before move day, we recommend sending one or two ‘captains’ from each department within the business to test the space. These pilot users will be responsible for assessing their area of the office and reporting any issues before the move.  This process will also allow you to verify that the premises are health and safety complaint before the rest of the team arrives.

During user-acceptance testing, we found a few areas with too much sunlight and reflection on monitors and desks in the space. From an IT perspective, this allowed us to quickly implement measures so the space would be useable and comfortable for staff.

This type of hurdle can’t be predicted until you have proper access to the space – so we recommend setting time aside in your project plan in the weeks prior to test, test, and test again.


4. Don’t Make it More Complex Than it Needs to Be

Moving office is a big task. It requires a huge amount of planning, coordination, project management and communication. Our advice is not to make it any more complex than it already is.

However, if you’re looking at making extensive changes to departments, processes or systems, our advice is to schedule rollout either before, or after the move. This is a really crucial point that many businesses fail to recognise.

In our case, we ignored this one altogether and shifted offices during our acquisition and merger with Amcom. While it ended up fine for us, we think there’s a valid lesson hidden in there: avoid shaking everything up, all at once.

Though if like us, you’re adamant on pushing the boundaries of what is possible during a move, at least ensure you have a solid change management strategy in place – which leads us to our next point…


5. Create a Change Management Plan

Whether intentional or not, your office move will have an impact on your business’ patterns and team culture. These changes can be difficult to predict and understand, so it’s important to try to evaluate the potential fallouts and have a clear strategy in place to manage them.

Work with your HR team to understand the potential impacts on departments and staff within your business. A move can really disrupt existing modes of operation – right down to smaller details such as how and where departments meet and interact, especially if teams are moving to separate floors or spaces in the office.

On a personal level, changes to an individual’s work patterns and environment can often lead to a feeling of hesitancy and uncertainty. Employees tend to be more positive about a move when they are regularly communicated with, feel involved, and have an avenue to express their concerns about the change.

Speak with all stakeholders in the business before creating your plan. If executed correctly, your change management strategy can reshape the move from being a daunting adjustment for your team, to a noticeable boost in staff engagement and happiness.


6. Nail your Communications Strategy

This final point is a fairly obvious one: an effective communications strategy is crucial to the success of your move.
Once your project plan is in place and your move dates are confirmed, begin thinking about how you will communicate with staff throughout the process.


You’ll need to consider the project plan in its entirety, noting the key times when comms are required. You’ll also need to determine which mediums will be used to get your message across.

Your communications will allow you to counter any resistance, and show staff that the move is going to be an exciting and positive step for them and the business.

Our HR team at Vocus looked after the communications strategy for our relocation, and it was done exceptionally well. Staff were reached via a range of mediums, including email, our intranet, Yammer, team briefings, as well as HR physically walking around and reminding teams of crucial points.


Here's a Bonus Tip - Celebrate the Small Wins Along the Way

Through careful planning, our moves have highly successful, and a positive transition for our business and team. But, no matter how well it’s planned, an office move is a huge endeavour that requires careful planning and consistent communication. This is an exciting time for your business – take note of the lessons learned along the way, but remember to celebrate the small wins as well.


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