It’s not uncommon for businesses to relocate their office to a different area. According to a survey of 170 upper-level corporate executives cited by Priceonomics, nearly half of respondents moved their business once in the past decade, and 21 percent had moved their business twice in the past decade.
While businesses move their office for a variety of reasons – to accommodate growth, streamline operations, be closer to their target audience, or their current office lease is expiring – it’s a tedious and often stressful process. Moreover, when poorly executed, it can create a hectic and chaotic working environment that hinders a business’s productivity, resulting in lower profits. This shouldn’t discourage you from attempting to move your office, however. By planning ahead, you can transfer all the equipment, furniture and resources in your current office to a new location while avoiding the headaches that typically come with an office relocation.
Create a Moving Plan
About 10 months to one year before you intend to move, create a moving plan. A moving plan is an invaluable tool for moving an office. This document provides essential information about the move that you and your business’s workers can use to facilitate your office’s relocation.
When creating a moving plan, be sure to include the following information:
- Address of your new office
- Directions to your new office from your current office
- Designated moving coordinator (who’s in charge of overseeing the relocation)
- Moving dates and times
- Expected downtime for business
- Worker responsibilities
- Layout of current office as well as new office
- Reasons for moving
Stockpile Cardboard Boxes
You can never have too many cardboard boxes when moving your office. According to some sources, it takes about 23 boxes to pack a single room. If your office has a half-dozen rooms, that’s 138 boxes. You may need even more boxes if your office has lots of equipment-filled cubicles. To prepare for your office’s upcoming relocation, start stockpiling boxes now.
Most post offices, package courier stores, self-storage stores, office supply stores, and even major household retailers like Walmart and Target sell cardboard boxes. Depending on the size, you can expect to pay anywhere from 50 cents to $5 per box. The good news is that you can claim the cost of boxes, as well as other supplies and services directly used to move your office, as a tax deduction. You’ll still have to pay for the boxes, but this will lower the amount of taxes your business owes for the year in which you purchased them. Just remember to save your receipts for your business’s accounting department.
If you’re trying to save money and want to minimize the cost of moving your office, you may be able to find boxes for free. Grocery stores, for example, typically receive shipments in large boxes, which they break down at the end of the day for recycling. Some grocery stores will gladly give you their boxes, however, so that they don’t have to worry about recycling them. Don’t just call and ask a grocery store if it has any free boxes. Rather, visit the grocery store in person to ask a manager. You’ll have a better shot at scoring free boxes if you ask in person instead of over the phone.
Craigslist is perhaps the place to find free boxes for your office’s relocation. There are typically dozens of listings for free boxes in most major U.S. cities. Whether your business is located on the East Coast, West Coast or somewhere in between, you can probably find free boxes on Craigslist.
Purchase Packing Supplies
Cardboard boxes are important when moving your office, but there are packing supplies you’ll need for this project, including the following:
- Tape (either shipping tape, filament tape or masking tape)
- Bubble wrap
- Foam packing peanuts
- Packing paper
- Plastic wrap
- Box cutters
- Trash bags
- Felt furniture pads
These packing supplies are sold at many of the same stores that sell boxes.
Pack and Label Office Equipment
With boxes and supplies in hand, you can begin packing your office equipment. There’s no secret formula for packing office equipment. Just go through your office and begin placing items in boxes. From files and books to staplers, pencils, artwork and more, everything must be packaged before the moving day.
Be conscious of how much items weigh when packing them into boxes. Boxes, even when made of heavy-duty corrugated cardboard, can only support so much weight. If you stuff a box with more weight than it can handle, the bottom may fall out while you or someone else is carrying it, sending the contents falling to the floor below. The Spruce recommends limiting the weight of moving boxes to 50 pounds, which is a good rule of thumb to follow when packing your office equipment. With that said, check the specifications of your boxes to see if the manufacturer listed a weight limit. Some boxes may have a 50-pound weight limit, whereas others have just a 20- or 30-pound limit.
To protect fragile items from breaking, use both bubble wrap and packing paper. To pack a glass vase, for example, wrap it with one or two layers of bubble wrap and secure the bubble wrap with tape. Next, place the wrapped vase in an appropriately sized box, after which you can fill any remaining space in the box with packing paper.
After filling a box and securing it with tape, use a marker to label the outside. There are different ways to label moving boxes, though the easiest is to simply use the room or area in which the contents belong. A box filled with items from your office’s break room should be labeled as “break room,” while a box filled with items from the conference room should be labeled as “conference room.” For individual cubicles, use a numbering system that corresponds with the layout of your office’s new location.
Partner With the Right Moving Company
Moving everything yourself may sound like a smart way to save money on your office’s relocation, but it’s usually wise to invest in the services of a professional moving company. They have the vans, hand trucks, experience, and workers to move your office in the fastest and most efficient way possible.
When choosing a moving company with which to partner, call and request a quote from at least three different companies. Moving companies typically won’t reveal the exact cost of their service, as unforeseen circumstances and other factors can affect the total price. However, they should provide you with an estimated cost, giving you a better idea of how much you can expect to pay. Some moving companies may send a worker known as an estimator to your office so that he or she can take inventory and determine the amount of work your relocation project requires, while others will provide an estimation based on information you provide over the phone or through their website.
You’ll want to inquire about prospective moving companies’ timeline for moving your office before partnering with one. In other words, how long will it take them to move your office to its new location? Office relocations aren’t easy, nor are they fast. For a small office, a reputable moving company may complete the relocation 10 to 12 hours. For larger offices, it could take two or three days. So, when calling moving companies to request a quote, ask about the timeline.
Only hire a moving company that’s experienced in commercial business relocations. Most moving companies specialize in residential relocations, only performing the occasional commercial relocation. By partnering with a company that’s helped countless other businesses move their office, you’ll experience better results.
Move Computers and IT Equipment Separately
It’s a good idea to move your office’s computers and information technology (IT) equipment separately than the rest of its equipment. According to a survey by USA Today, four out five data center managers say network outages cost their business about $50,000 per hour. Unless your business specializes in IT services, downtime probably won’t cost this much. Nonetheless, it can still restrict your business’s ability to perform its operations in a fast and efficient manner. By moving your office’s computers and IT equipment separately, you’ll be able to get everything up and running more quickly.
If your business has an IT department, consider designating an executive or worker from this department to oversee the relocation of your office’s computers and IT equipment. They can back up essential data, safely pack hardware to protect against moisture damage, secure cables to their respective devices and more. Also, when it’s time to move, this individual can help direct movers on where to place the packaged computers and IT equipment in your new office.
Disassemble Large Furniture
Wouldn’t it be great if you could move all your office furniture without disassembling it? You can probably move most office chairs, file cabinets and other types of small furniture without disassembling them. For larger types of furniture like conference tables and desks, though, this may not be possible.
Get the measurements of all doorways and hallways – at both your office’s current location and its future location – through which you’ll need to move your office furniture. Next, compare these measurements to that of your large office furniture. You may discover that some tables and desks are wider than a doorway or hallway. Therefore, you’ll have to disassemble the furniture before you or anyone else can move it.
Disassembling large office furniture can be a chore. You may have to use screwdrivers, and Allen wrenches, to remove hardware. Most importantly, you’ll need to keep this hardware – and remember where it goes – so that you can reassemble the furniture at your office’s new location.
If you come across large office furniture that’s too old and degraded to safely move without causing damage, consider replacing it with new furniture. It’s easier to order a new conference table and have it shipped to your office’s new location than it is to try and move a heavily worn conference table that’s falling apart.
Change Your Office’s Addresses With the USPS
Don’t forget to change your office’s address with the United States Postal Service (USPS). This ensures that all mail sent to your office’s old address will be forwarded to its new address. To change your office’s address with the USPS, visit this link and follow the on-page instructions. The USPS charges $1 for this service.
Alternatively, you can change your office’s address with the USPS by visiting a local post office. Just ask a postal worker for a Mover’s Guide packet. In this packet is a PS Form 3575, which you can complete and drop off to request an address change.
Regardless of which method you use to change your office’s address with the USPS, make sure the mail forwarding date is the same or close to your moving date. If you specify a mail forwarding date that’s a month prior to your moving date, all your office’s mail will be sent to its new location a month before you move there. And if you specify a forwarding date that’s a month after your moving date, you won’t receive mail at your office’s new location until a month after you’ve moved.
Update Your Business’s Contact Information With New Office Address
In addition to changing your office’s address with the USPS, update your business’s contact information to reflect this new address. The USPS will still forward all mail sent to your office’s old address to its new address. However, if a prospective customer or client sees your office’s old address listed somewhere and tries to visit it, they won’t be able to find your business.
Any digital or print media featuring your business’s contact information must be updated with your office’s new address. This includes your business’s website, social media profiles, email signatures, online directory listings, business cards, and branded stationary.
Moving your office can undoubtedly disrupt your business’s office. At the very least, it will divert time, money and resources away from your business’s primary operations. However, moving can have a positive long-term impact on your business, providing you and your business’s workers with a more productive environment.
President at Office Chairs Unlimited – I have been in the furniture industry for over 20 years, and I’m an expert (just ask me) on all things furniture. I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.