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The Ultimate Office Moving Guide

posted: 22/06/2020

Table of content


Office Removal checklist

1. What Is Office Relocation?

It is the process of moving your place of business from one location to another. Office removals are very complicated, as more people and resources are involved. Every step must be carefully planned. Staff preparation and relocation play a major role in the smooth execution of the removal. On top of that, there are more technical details involved around the relocation of the IT Department and the preparation of the new wiring.

2. How Do You Move a Business?

To relocate without any major issues, you need to spend as much time on planning and organising, as on packing and transporting your inventory. Business moves, especially when we are talking about big corporate offices, can’t be executed without external help. Thus, commercial removals come to the picture. Here is how you organise everything:

  1. You need to appoint one responsible person from your company who will supervise the relocation from your part.
  2. With their help you need to:
    • create an office relocation risk management plan
    • formulate a budget
    • pick a moving company
  3. The moving agency will assign you a personal business coordinator as well. Together with your project manager, these two individuals are essential for the success of the removal.
  4. After you have made the necessary decisions on these topics, you need to start preparing your employees for what is about to happen. Sometimes not everybody will be on board with changing their city or moving abroad, and there might be changes in your staff. You must discuss this with both your HR managers and corporate lawyers.
  5. Remember to also notify your suppliers, clients, government agencies, etc.
  6. Your project manager has to divide the process into smaller ones and appoint a responsible person for each task. They are basically following the maxim “Divide and conquer.”
  7. Make sure the new place is in order, all connections are set and the utilities are paid.
  8. When everything is sorted out it’s time to finally start prepping and packing your inventory and your future office.
  9. With the help of your commercial removal company, you will be able to physically relocate the electronics and furniture.

See our office removals checklist to get an idea of what you need to do.
You can also download it for FREE from here: Office Removal Checklist

3. How to Pick Your Project Manager for the Office Move?

Just like any other project, you need to plan every detail. The most important thing is to find the perfect employee that will be responsible for the move. They have to answer to the following requirements:

  • Needs to be higher in the company hierarchy to take important decisions;
  • Has significant experience in multitasking;
  • A strong motivator that can speak to all and help them in difficult situations;
  • Has a good idea of how your business functions and knows its weak points;
  • Needs to be trustworthy and loyal to the company;
  • Has communication skills and can properly explain their ideas and suggestions;
  • Good with numbers and can create and follow a budget;
  • Organised and used to work under pressure;

You might think this is a lot, but if your company is bigger – has many employees, business partners and clients, you have to play it safe. A lot can go wrong during a removal, and almost always it has nothing to do with the moving company.

4. What Is an Office Relocation Risk Management Plan?

Office Removal Risk Factors

This is a very detailed plan describing different health, safety, management and technical problems that may occur during the relocation and the possible solutions to these potential obstacles. The idea behind it is to minimise both the risk for your employees’ well-being and any financial losses for the business. Bear in mind that you need to provide your staff with a safe work environment. A lot of injuries can happen during removal if you don’t plan every detail. Not to mention work-related incidents can seriously harm your company.

To help you, we have a template you can use to assess the risk for your particular business. Have a briefing and fill in the form with the things you think are most important.

Download your FREE Office Relocation Risk Assessment

As one of London’s top moving companies for almost a decade, we can also share with you a basic office relocation risk management plan. Use it as a guideline when you are working on the template.

5. What Is a Commercial Mover?

This is a moving company that offers business and office removal services. Usually, these movers are experienced and have the necessary gears and professional packing materials to execute an uneventful safe relocation of furniture and electronic devices. Different companies can offer a variety of additional services like storage, unpacking, etc. There are a lot of factors involved in the choosing of the right commercial moving agency.

6. How Do You Pick the Right Moving Company?

There are a couple of characteristics all good removal agencies must have:

  • Well-known in their community and branch for their office removals.
  • Experienced in what they are doing. The movers have to have extensive knowledge on how to properly relocate different types of offices and businesses.
  • Having the proper gear and vehicles to execute a commercial relocation. Handling a server or a computer is not the same as wrapping a washing machine. The company you pick has to have specialised packing and loading protocols.
  • Specially trained commercial moving coordinators. They create the link between you and the removal agency and pull the weight of the relocation.
  • An informative website where you can learn about the company and the service it offers.
  • Good internet presence – a Facebook page, a profile on Trustpilot, etc.
  • Customer reviews are written by actual clients, not petty competition.
  • Different insurance options that will guarantee the safety of both your properties and belongings

You can usually determine all of those things after a fast browse of the internet and a call to the company. If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, then it is a duck.

7. What to Know Before Hiring Movers?

Before you contact the office removal company, there are a couple of things you need to have the answer to:

  • What is your moving budget?
  • When and where are you planning to relocate?
  • Have you secured the new place yet and if not when is that going to happen?
  • What are you going to do with your employees for the duration of the relocation process?

There is no point in hiring a moving company if you don’t have a solution in place for all of the listed questions.

8. What Questions Should You Ask a Moving Company?

When booking an office relocation the removal agency will have lots of questions for you. However, you will need to ask them some important ones as well. Here is a list of relevant topics you need to discuss with your moving contractors before you book their services:

  • What kind of insurance do they offer and if it’s insufficient for your needs can they do a tailor-made policy for your business?
  • What is their discretion policy? After all, the movers will be transporting your company’s documentation.
  • What types of vehicles do the removal agency use and how are they going to protect your electronic devices during transit (computers, laptops, servers, etc.)?
  • What are their rates, and are there any discounts or deals you can benefit from?
  • Are there additional moving services they offer and can be of use in your particular case?

Usually, after the initial survey is done, a reputable commercial moving company can easily provide you with that information. They will also tell you how many movers to expect and give you a time estimate of the process.

9. How Much Does It Cost to Relocate an Office?

We are talking about only the actual moving expenses here, and not the additional cost of renting a space, decorating, etc. It is important to note the rates vary from city to city, so these are the average prices for the UK capital.

How much does it cost to move an office? (up to 100m2)£1,000
How much does it cost to move a 1,500-square foot (140m2) office£1,400
How much does it cost to move a 3,000-square foot (280m2) office£2,800
How much does it cost to move a 10,000-square foot (930m2) office£9,300

 

Pricing an office move is a very complex task. There are too many variables which can swing the cost one way or another. Important factors are distance to the loading bay, whether a lift can be used, what is the lift capacity and whether any furniture needs to be dismantled. On top of that, one can get the optional services such as packing, shredding, disposal.
As a rule of thumbs, the average removal costs about £100 per head or working station that needs moving. So a 20 person office will be in the range of £2,000.

9.1 What Are the Additional Moving Costs?

Again here we are talking about additional expenses for the moving services. Depending on what you want to be added to your basic package, be ready to pay for:

  • IT and document crates – Some removals can offer you an option to hire those. Renting plastic containers is both cheaper and eco-friendly.
  • Professional packing including dismantling of furniture and wrapping expensive goods.
  • Storage – Most big moving companies can offer you sweet deals if you combine the relocation with their warehouse services.
  • Extra insurance – This one is a must, especially if you are relocating a big business.

9.2 Services You Shouldn’t Have to Pay for

The terms and conditions of every moving company are different. However, with most reputable UK providers, you shouldn’t worry about the cost of:

  • Site-survey – Usually you can do them in person or online, and for the most part they are free of charge.
  • Receiving a final quote – Again the trustworthy companies will not bill you for this. Quotes are free and with no obligation attached to them.
  • Moving coordinator – The removal agency will assign a professional consultant who will help with all of the details. You are allowed to hire a third party as an independent specialist, but this is quite an uncommon practice in the UK. London companies invest a lot to prepare their consultants, and as a result, these experts are perfectly capable to aid you. Their services are included in the overall price of the relocation, so you don’t have to pay anything extra.

Disclaimer: Some movers in the US charge additionally for all of these services, so be careful when you choose your company. If you are planning to relocate from the States to the UK, it may be more budget-friendly to pick a local agency.

10. How to Formulate a Moving Budget?

This is the hardest part of planning a commercial move. There are so many factors you need to take into consideration. The expenses must be divided into categories. Depending on the type of your business, you can add or remove some. Here are the different types of costs, you can download our template with the full list of expenses and calculate your budget. Fill it in with the ones you feel, are relevant for your particular circumstance and keep track of your money.

Main categories:

  • Occupancy expenses – Еverything you need to do to secure a new place.
  • Taxes and permits
  • Expenses for Specialised Services
  • Renovation expenses
  • HR Expenses
  • Security expenses
  • Marketing expenses
  • Moving expenses
  • Expenses linked to your old office
  • Unexpected expenses – You need to prepare an extra 10 -15% increase in your final budget for any unexpected costs that may occur during the relocation process.

For a detailed breakdown of each category, check out our prefilled template – Office Relocation Budget

NB: For large office spaces, it is easier to divide the expenses by room. Make a different sheet in the calculation file for each area and list all the things you need to do for that particular space. For example, the kitchen needs new appliances, furniture, decoration, etc. This way you can monitor your budget more closely.

10.1 How to Get Additional Funding for Your Business Removal?

Some countries have special programs for developing small or rural areas of their territory. They also give funding to improve some industries. You need to explore these options as there is a chance your local government can cover the majority of your moving expenses.

You can also lower your expenses by reducing some of the taxes you need to pay. For example, if you make your office more environmentally friendly, or you provide work for people from your new location. Explore these options and see how you can change your current business to fit better the local government standards.

10.2 Do You Need to Invest in Additional Moving Insurance?

It all comes down to what you want. Top Removals offers a standard limited insurance package with a basic cover of £40 per item moved. We would strongly recommend getting Open Cover insurance, which can be tailor-made to cover all or particular items for their full replacement value. This is an optional service and an additional fee will be added should the customer decide to use it.

11. How Long Does It Take to Move Offices

The preparations for relocations can take up to a year. Things like finding the perfect office, negotiating prices with the landlords or buying a property, can’t be rushed. However, the actual act of packing, loading, transporting and setting up everything is much faster.

There isn’t an exact formula to calculate the time since it depends on so many factors and variables.

The smaller offices, up to 20 people can be moved within a day. Some more complex projects can require an additional day. The largest are done within 3 to 4 days. Our Top Removals’ teams try to complete the office relocations with minimal disruption. Often these moves happen after working hours or during the weekend. In such cases, we simply arrange more resources – people and vehicles, in order to complete within 2 days the move.

12. When to Announce the Office Move?

You need to inform your employees about the relocation as soon as the decision is made. This way it won’t turn into office gossip and accumulate negativity and stress amongst your staff. Everybody needs to be aware of the upcoming changes from the start, so they will have the opportunity to choose whether they will be moving with the company or looking for a new job. It is especially important if you are relocating to another city.

12.1 How Do You Announce an Office Relocation to Your Employees?

The most effective way that leaves no room for speculations is to just have a big office meeting and make the announcement. Be positive and explain why the office needs to be relocated. The more information you give, the less retaliation you will get. And be certain that some individuals won’t be happy and there will be a lot of bumps in the upcoming weeks or months.

12.2 How to Communicate Properly with Your Staff When Moving the Office?

Try to create a dialogue and discuss all the staff’s concerns regarding the removal. Here are some topics you need to talk about:

  • How will the change affect the work?
  • Are you planning to let go of some of the staff?
  • Are you hiring new recruits?
  • If the relocation is to another city, is the company prepared to pay for the removal costs of its employees?
  • Are there some financial benefits for the workers?
  • What is the time frame?
  • What is expected from each member of the staff?

You can put a box and ask your employees to leave all of their questions inside. It can also be done using an online form. Then have a meeting and discuss each issue in detail. Transparency is very important, especially if your company is on the larger scale.

12.3 How to Make Your Employees Part of the Moving Process?

After all the initial questions have been answered, it’s time to lighten up the mood in the office. Create a survey and ask each member of your staff about their opinion on the new place. They can actually give you valuable insights about existing problems at the moment that can be avoided once you relocate.

12.4 Company and Employee Rights

Before you take any further steps with the relocation, you have to be sure your staff is on board. There may be individuals who want to leave the company, and this is normal. Make sure the documentation is properly prepared. The UK government’s site has a section specifically for such occasions. Check out the Employer relocation page and familiarise yourself with the legal requirements.

13. How Do You Tell Your Customers You Are Moving?

After you announce the big news to your staff, you have to properly inform your clients. There are a couple of ways you can do this. It is up to you and your marketing team to choose the best options.

  • Send an email announcement;
  • Put the news on your website;
  • Organise a formal cocktail;
  • Post about the relocation on your social media;
  • Include a short announcement on the template of your invoices;
  • Put a press release on your local newspaper or radio station;
  • Consider TV ads;
  • Send gift baskets and include a card informing them about the changes;

14. Who to Inform When Relocating Your Office?

Your staff and customers are not the only persons of interest when it comes to office removals. There are a number of agencies you need to notify:
Government agencies:

Utilities:

  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Gas
  • Royal Mail
  • Phone company (for landlines)
  • Internet
  • Server Hosting Company

Other important people and organisations:

  • Bank
  • Credit consultants
  • Insurance company
  • Marketing and PR agencies
  • SEO company
  • Security company
  • Accountant
  • Solicitor
  • Investors
  • Board members
  • Office suppliers
  • Produce suppliers

15. How to Organise the Packing of Your Office?

office plan colour codingThere are 2 very popular methods to organise your removal with the common goal of knowing which box came from which department.

The first one is the colour coding technique. The idea is you use different coloured labels to mark each crate and carton to indicate where it came from and where the movers should put it. Look at the image below, you can see the different areas and departments. According to our London experts, this is one of the most effective and time-saving methods. You can apply it to both large working spaces and one-man offices.

The other popular technique to organise the packing of your business is by using numbers. For example, the head manager’s office will be wrapped up and labelled not with a red mark but with an index starting with 1. So all of their crates will be numbered 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc. The kitchen area won’t be in light blue but will be marked as 5. So everything there will be labelled 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, etc. Altho it may sound appealing this method can be quite confusing for bigger workplaces.

15.1 What Packing Materials to Use for Your Office Removal?

Due to the specifics of the business relocation, you need to purchase professional materials to protect properly your assets. Here is a list of what you need:

  • IT crates – They are specially designed to hold computer equipment. The lid seals completely and protects the electronics from the outside weather conditions. A good option is to hire those types of containers since, after the move, you will have no use of them.
  • File moving boxes – These cartons have a label where you can write what is inside and which department it came from. File boxes come handy if you own a large paper archive that needs to be relocated.
  • Regular cardboard boxes — They come in three sizes-small, medium and large, and are perfect for packing individual workspaces.
  • Plastic wrap – Known as “cling wrap” or “stretch wrap”, it is used to bind together and tightly tie different items. You can also secure your boxes with it. However, this material is primarily used to wrap furniture and keep it from scratching and damaging during the relocation.
  • Bubble wrap – It comes in many different bubble sizes and is the perfect padding. The bubbles provide a soft cushion to your items and absorb shockwaves when the box is accidentally dropped or hit.
  • Packing paper – This material has many uses both as padding and as a wrapper. You can put some wrinkled paper in your moving boxes to preserve the items inside from breaking. It can also be used for covering books or binders before you place them in the cartons.
  • Plastic sheets – Ideal for protecting large pieces of furniture during the relocation. They can be laid on the floor to preserve the wooden boards from scratches and dirt.
  • Packing tape – Don’t overlook the importance of strong tape. It is necessary to seal all the boxes, so they won’t accidentally rip open during the removal. If the carton is on the heavier scale, make sure to use tape to reinforce its edges and bottom. There is a large variety of sizes and colours, and you can even purchase labelled ones that say “fragile”, “caution”, etc.

Disclaimer: Do not use DIY methods and materials to prep your business relocation, as there may be problems with your insurance if something happens. You won’t be able to get compensation due to inadequate packing from your part.

16. How to Pack and Move Your Paper Archives?

It is pretty easy to prep your archives for a relocation. You already have a storing system in place, so you just have to follow it when putting them in the file boxes. Bear in mind:

  • Don’t make the containers too heavy and reinforce their bottoms with tape.
  • Wrap the boxes in plastic if you are worried about water damage during the move.
  • Label each carton, so you know what is inside.
  • Get yourself some plastic crates for the bigger binders.

The actual loading, transportation and unloading will be handled by your moving company. If everything is properly labelled and the movers know what the crates contain they will arrange them accordingly in the truck.
After you arrive at the new office, you can easily put the archives into place – just follow the previous order of organisation.

17. How to Pack and Move IT?

This is a delicate job that involves a team of specialists. All of your company info is on those servers and laptops and a strict procedure must be followed. In order to complete the task in hand, you need to create a team who will be responsible for all IT questions. Include in the team the following professionals:

  • The moving project manager from your company;
  • The head of your IT department;
  • Your head technician;
  • The moving coordinator from your removal company;
  • Third-party experts – they can be consultants from the company that host your servers or external IT specialist;

When this is done follow these steps to ensure the job will be done properly:

1. Make a backup to all of your files
Copy not only the documents but also all of your employees’ accounts. Everything must be replicated either to the cloud or a special server configured for that purpose only.

2. Take lots of pictures
If you have a server room, you need to take pictures of all cable connections. At the end of the day, you have to have a gallery containing images of the cabling of your servers, routers, DVR, NVR, switches and basically, everything that blinks, beeps and works in that room. This will save you a lot of headaches once you relocate.

3. Label everything
Every cable must be marked. You need to know which two devices it links and where exactly to plug it in.

4. Packing
Use a different IT crate for each device in the server room. Pack it with its cables, nuts, bolts, rack, etc. Do the same for your employees’ computers. Label every machine with the name of its holder and wrap it up with its peripheral components – keyboard, mouse, headset, etc. Consider booking a professional packing service for this step to ensure everything is done properly.

5. Transporting and storage
The IT Department is the first that needs to be relocated. That said usually the machines wouldn’t have to stay in storage for long. Don’t worry about it, the IT crates will provide sufficient protection to your equipment.

6. Setting up the IT system
When the cabling is done and all underfloor boxes are mounted in their proper spots, it’s time to move in the servers and PC’s responsible for the operating of the internal office network.

7. Tests
This is the most important step of the relocation of the IT department, as your systems administrators and technicians need to make sure everything from the cabling to the actual machines is working properly. Do not skip the tests. It will be harder to fix anything when the office space is filled with furniture.

8. Final arrangement
If everything goes smoothly, you can contact your moving company and let them know it’s time to bring the furniture. Once the desks are arranged, your sys admins can connect the employee computers to the network.

18. How to Pack and Move the Kitchen and Leisure Areas of Your Office?

Here it gets a little tricky because you not only have plates, mugs and silverware but also a fridge, a microwave, etc. From the beginning, you need to decide whether you are moving the kitchen appliances or you are going to replace them with new ones. If you pick the first option, some important steps need to be taken:

  • Empty the fridge and freezer from all food products and unplug them from the power.
  • Defrost the freezer if needed.
  • Clean the in and outsides of all kitchen appliances, this includes your coffee maker and water dispenser.
  • If there is a dishwasher in your office kitchen, you might want to call a handyman to unplug it correctly to avoid flooding the place.
  • After all the appliances are dry and clean, your movers can come and pack them accordingly.

Do not attempt to carry any of the heavy machines. In most cases, you will need at least two people and specialised gear to do it safely. Leave the loading and unloading to the professionals. Top Removals has a strict protocol when transporting such machines as our movers lay blankets and arrange the heavy items in a way they won’t get damaged or scratched while in the back of the truck.

Once at the new office you will need a handyman to reconnect everything before you can use it safely.

19. How to Pack and Move Big Copy Machines?

These types of office equipment are both quite delicate and very heavy, so it is a challenge for an unprofessional to pack them properly. However, it’s not an impossible one. Here is how you pack a large copy machine:

  • Take some pictures, so you know what everything looks like before you disassemble any parts of the machine
  • Remove the paper and feeding trays, as well as the other movable parts.
  • Cover them in bubble wrap and place them in a carton. Remember to label it.
  • Remove the toner canister and put it in a zip-lock bag to avoid any spills.
  • Protect what is left of the machine with a couple of layers of bubble wrap.
  • Secure everything with a lot of tape.

Once the copy machine is packed do not attempt to relocate or lift it. Wait for your movers to come and load it into the truck. They will also unload it properly when you arrive at the new office.

There you need to unwrap everything and put all movable parts back in their original places. If the toner has leaked, use new cartridges. Here is where the pictures you took come in handy as you can check to see if you assembled the machine correctly.
It would be of great help if you have the original user manuals when you reconnect and configure the machine.

20. Do You Need to Hire a Storage Space When Moving Your Office?

It depends on how far you want to move your inventory, how large it is and what are your agreements with your present and future landlords. For example:

  • If you need to move out after your present lease has ended but your future one won’t start for a couple of days (or weeks) and you have lots of stuff, get a storage space. You will need a place to keep your items during the transition period from one point to the other.
  • If you are planning to move to another city and the new place is not fully arranged yet, you will need a secure space where you can place your inventory. You can always ask to extend the lease of your current office but cost-wise it will be more efficient to rent a storage unit.

21. FAQ about Office Removals You Need to Know the Answer to

The topic of business removals is quite vast, and questions just keep piling up. Our London experts are here to answer them and help you execute an uneventful and stress-free relocation.

21.1 How to Pack and Transport the Office Plants?

Moving office plants is similar to relocating with a houseplant. Luckily Top Removals has a comprehensive house moving guide that explains in detail what you should and shouldn’t do. You can check it out, there is even a cool infographic describing the correct way of wrapping and packing your decorative vegetation. There are 3 things you need to remember if you want your plants to survive the relocation:

  • Water – Flowers need lots of water to survive the stress. It is a good idea to appoint a person who will be responsible for the office vegetation and whose sole mission will be to take care of them.
  • Transportation – Most moving companies will refuse to put living plants in the back of the removal truck. Consider dividing the pots amongst your staff or hire a van just for the vegetation (if you are occupying a large workspace, you are bound to have a lot of plants). Consult with your moving coordinator on the topic.
  • Packing – It needs to be done right to avoid damaging any leaves and branches. If your employees don’t feel comfortable wrapping the plants or you just don’t have the time, leave that job to your movers. They know how to best do it.

21.2 How to Choose a Cleaning Company?

Like you pick your removal company – after thorough research. You can use the same criteria as the one listed above. However, it may be easier than you think. Some movers can provide you with cleaning assistance as well. On top of that, they can also offer you deals and discounts if you book two or more of their services. This means you can actually save some money from the budget. Discuss this option with your moving consultant and see what they can do for you.

21.3 How to Relocate Your Office Internationally?

There is not much difference in relocating nationwide and internationally. However, you should be aware of the following factors:

  • Budget – It is significantly more expensive to remove across the border. You need to be prepared to at least double your budget, especially if shipping overseas is involved.
  • Time – The international relocation of your office will take significantly longer. The increase comes not only from the greater travelling distance but also from planning and packing, finding a new location for your office and customs complications. Bear in mind that international relocations are not a fast process.
  • Paperwork – You need to familiarise yourself with the business regulations of the new country. There may be a lot of forms you will have to fill in and government programs to apply to. Thankfully your lawyers and moving coordinator will be able to help you with that. Some removal companies prep the entire customs documentation, so you only need to put your signature on the bottom.
  • Storage – You can’t skip it. It is essential to use moving storage when relocating your business internationally. This means that when choosing a removal company you need one that can offer you a secure warehouse for all of the office inventory.

22. How Can You Make the Office Move Fun?

It is important to keep a positive attitude and motivate your staff during the relocation. You can incorporate some fun activities in your office routine to relieve the build-up stress.

  • Make Friday a lazy day and let your employees come to work in their sweat pants and comfy clothes. Say “Goodbye” to suits and keep it light.
  • Let your staff bring their dogs to work. Studies show that this would help with your employees’ productivity and will lower their anxiety and stress.
  • Bring coffee and snacks to the office. Who doesn’t like free things?
  • Organise funny trivia games and small competitions between your staff members. Let the praises be connected with the new office – a desk near the window, an honorary chair in the leisure room or even a new game for the PlayStation.

Remember, the relocation is a big change not only to your business but also to the lives of your employees. Respect them and do what you can to help them adjust.

If that seems a little too much for you, don’t worry you can rely on Top Removals to aid you in every step of your office relocation.

 


Stephanie Cooper

Stephanie is a content marketing specialist for Top Removals for the past several years. She has extensive experience working with moving companies and knows her audience. Stephanie creates engaging and useful content helping the customers of Top Removals with their struggles and providing them with the most accurate insight.

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