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Moving a business is widely considered one of life's most stressful events for owners and employees.
There's packing and unpacking while your staff carries on with business as usual while your staff carries on with business as usual — the prospect of losing work or documents if you aren't extremely careful, and lost time and productivity.
That's why it's important to prepare carefully and include your staff as much as possible in the process. When a company communicates with its employees about a new location, they are more apt to feel like they are part of the plans — and less likely to be resentful and feel that the move is an imposition.
Here are a few tips to help make the transition as stress-free as possible:
Plan far ahead. Involve your employees in making a list of the pros and cons to help everyone understand the need for the move and what it'll accomplish. Consider seasonal factors that may affect your business and the timing of the move.
The best time to make the move is over a weekend so you have time to install and troubleshoot the technology, and make sure all essential equipment is in place and functioning properly before your next business day. Any downtime would then generally occur over Saturday and Sunday and thus have a minimal effect on clients, customers or vendors.
Consider the expense of the move and whether your employees will actually be involved in physically moving any equipment or documentation. Remember you may have to move a local-area or wireless network, as well as all your company's personal computers and printers. These questions need to be addressed during the earliest planning phases.
Consider upgrades. Relocating is a good opportunity to upgrade equipment. If you are still using CRT monitors, for example, donate them and buy flat-panel screens. Consider the possibility of purchasing new software or improved versions of the software your company currently uses. Upgrading can mean you'll arrive at the new location in better shape than you were. If necessary, use laptop computers as interim machines while your new surroundings are completed or upgraded.
Create move teams. Choose employees to lead teams to manage specific areas involved in the move, such as new office furniture and equipment, electronics and communication, color-coding, plants, decorating, morale, employee relocation if required, and budget. Often several of these responsibilities can be given to one person, but make sure each of these areas is assigned to someone.
It is a good idea to make area managers responsible for their individual budgets, subsequently funneling their expenses through to the budget manager. However you organize your move team, whether it consists of one person or 20, the issues and decisions are similar.
Schedule field trips. If your staff is small enough, take groups of employees to the new site so they have an idea of where they'll be located. You can do these in groups of five or six employees at a time so there's an opportunity for them to ask questions and get a feel for what the new place will be like. Everyone will want to know exactly where they'll be located and how their cubicles will be wired to the Internet and other critical connections.
Take photographs. As the new location is renovated, post pictures of the project on the company intranet and on bulletin boards around the office so that employees can keep track of progress. If the facility has yet to be built, post an architectural rendering instead.
Start a countdown. As the project nears completion, give employees a firm idea of when the move is going to take place. Send e-mails each week to let them know that moving day is coming. Let them know about any delays. This helps employees prepare mentally, physically and professionally for the move. They can begin packing, sorting, finishing up projects and contacting clients in advance.
Anticipate downtime. Moving often involves an element of unpredictability and delays can happen. Notify all the people you do business with, from customers and vendors to accountants and lawyers, warning them of the possibility, however remote, that your business activity may be somewhat limited for a day or two.
With some solid planning and employee involvement, your move is likely to be as painless and productive as possible and you and your employees will be prepared for the unexpected.