How to perfectly co-ordinate an office move
By Tanem Mehmet
It was a busy start to the year for us with the opening of our new Kentish Town branch & the Greene & Co Head office. The Kentish Town office was a full build and refit project, and was completed in 4 months.
The Goldney Road Head office was an existing space which required a small refit. However, the IT set up required moving our main server and the occupancy of the office involved the relocation of 8 departments from 5 different locations (70 staff):
- Property Management
- HR and Marketing
- New Homes & Investments
- Greene Financial Services
An innovative and proactive approach was required. We used our ‘office moves template’, which has been developed over years and is an essential tool enabling us to successfully deliver previous projects on time and to budget.
The formula we have devised is relatively simple; it’s a excel workbook incorporating 12 tabs covering areas of the move as follows:
- Headline breakdown of costs for key areas. This tab details costs under the headings for; Refurbishment & Fit Out, Insurance & Legal Costs, Telecoms, Alarm Systems, Removal, Furniture, Flooring, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Cooling), H&S, I.T Equipment, Signage, Ongoing building Running Costs
- Breakdown of Approx. Cost; this tab includes a detailed breakdown of the budget or estimated cost for the items under the headings listed above (dependant on the office environment this may list up to 100 items, this is as detailed as up to how many teaspoons you will need for the kitchen)
- Breakdown of Actual Cost; this tab includes a detailed breakdown of actual cost for the items under the headings listed above (dependant on the office environment this may list up to 100 items)
- To & From Tab; this tab details each staff member as well as their equipment, where they are located & where they are moving to; Site Name, Move Date, Staff Name, Location From, Location To, Desk Number, New/Existing Telephone Number, Desk Pedestal, Office Chair, Managers / Meeting Room Chair, P.C Base Unit, Laptop, Keyboard, Monitor, Mouse, Phone
- Car Parking; this tab holds details of staff members parking at both current & new location including vehicle details
- Floorplan; this also includes desk layout & IT infrastructure detail
- Notes & Guidance; this tab lists all workflows for I.T and the project manager to update & work from
- Move Label template; this template is used by staff during packing for the physical move to label their equipment & move crates. This will ensure that nothing is lost and that their equipment is moved from location A to location B without a hitch
- Furniture requirements; this tab is a detailed breakdown of staff members & the office furniture requirements.
- Activity log sheet; this tab details the project plan in a Gantt chart format
Rather than move all 70 staff in one day we took the decision to move each department on a Friday across 6 weeks. We decided to move the Directors last, this allowed for the building to be ‘litmus tested’ as we like to call it before senior management are moved in. This supports project managers to iron out any key issues before their occupancy which naturally, you want to be seamless!
Undertaking moves on a Friday is also key, this enables I.T & project managers to conclude any move issues over the weekend allowing staff a business as usual start on the Monday morning.
The Goldney office I.T move was a tricky one as the main servers were located at the decant site. The move of these servers could not be undertaken until all staff members had moved across. To allow for BAU during the interim period the I.T staff copied over files, this meant staff could continue to work until such time as the main server was to be moved. In some businesses the main server may be located within a data centre in which case the office move would be much simpler from an I.T perspective.
The project planning of an office move is a fundamental part of ensuring its success; this however is not the most challenging aspect. The key areas to ensure success are in communication & buy-in of staff. Change management is integral to that. At Greene & Co we are fortunate to have an in house HR team who we worked closely with to support the change management with staff who would be involved in the move, staff buy in is essential to ensure the success of your move.
The sign off of desk location layout becomes a key aspect of the project early on; this is essentially the first item we insist on signing off with department leads. This is because it tends to be a longer process than one would anticipate. It’s important to have a lead from each department to work with on desk layout, in turn giving them the responsibility of obtaining sign off from their team.
Contractor management requires close attention; at Greene & Co we use the same contractor for all our office fit outs. Our contractor is therefore familiar with our corporate identity, where materials may be sourced from etc., this eliminates any unexpected delays from suppliers as they are familiar with our spec requirements and we are familiar with their lead times. With any contractor, we would strongly advise weekly meetings to assess time lines to enable the project to be completed on time. Always give yourself a 2 week window from when the contractor says they will be completed to the move date announced internally. A 2 week window allows any unexpected delays to be managed.
At Greene & Co we also had an exceptionally strong Marketing team, they are a key function in supporting the roll out of our corporate identity and signage throughout all our office openings.
To over communicate during any office move is essential, from my experience staff tend not to engage until at least a week before they are due to physically move.
Lastly, on the first day of the office occupation, we at Greene & Co ensure the kitchen is stocked with a selection of teas, coffee, milk & biscuits. That staff have a welcome note on their desks as well as a selection of chocolates and a heart shaped potted green cactus plant!
On refection I would say the office move contributed to:
- Collaborative working: Improved internal communications allowing for reduction in emails & lengthy meetings, it’s amazing what may be achieved from a 15min catch up in the open plan foyer!
- Improved client journey, providing visitors with an opportunity to meet in an office space with full A/V & meeting facilities.
- Brand PR opportunity: prospective employees quickly gain an understanding of what it means to work at Greene & Co from our head office environment; the culture & business focus oozes from our head office.
- The Greene Community: company meetings are all held at head office proving staff the opportunity to enjoy the space, evening drinks on the terrace, birthday lunches at the communal table in the foyer & much more!