This weekend, atHome Group moved to new offices in Luxembourg. Moving a whole company in less than two days takes a good planning and preparation to minimize “downtime” of the systems and especially the team. You don’t want 30 people be unable to work for several hours (or days) because something went wrong or you didn’t think of something important. As I was given the mission to handle this project, here are a couple of do’s and don’ts that I feel are important.
- Start planning in time – contacting contractors, ordering phone lines, checking the new building etc. takes time. Start at least 2 months ahead.
- Don’t let fate or luck be a part of your plan. Everything has to be planned in detail, and documented properly. In the heat of the action, you don’t want to have to think and remember everything from the top of your head. Write down todo’s, who’s doing what, and when, so that your battle-plan comes down to a checklist you just have to walk through. I usually do three todo lists: pre-move, move, and post-move.
- Build a team to support you. One person cannot handle all aspects of such a move. Build a small team of people you trust, and delegate individual missions to them. For example, ask your local IT support person to handle and plan the IT move in detail and clearly give them the responsibility for that part.
- Meet often and have your plan double-checked more than once. Trust is good, verification is better.
- Don’t accumulate risks. Don’t try to take advantage of the move to do additional changes in functionality, for instance. The goal is to move from one place to another, not to install new server architectures or deploy new wireless stuff etc. Once you’ve moved, you can go on and innovate later.
- Have a “plan B”. For instance, don’t cancel your phone or Internet subscription at the old office till you’ve really moved to the new location and checked everything works. You don’t want to end up having no office with phones and Internet connectivity at all anymore because the connectivity supplier of the new office messed something up but already cancelled your old line.
- Be prepared to sweat and work late. Moving offices always is more work that it first seems.
- Organize your time well. For example, move your servers and other IT infrastructure the night before people come, and not on the same day when you move furniture, coffee machines, and filers.
- Treat the contracted movers as if they were on your own team. Give them clear directions and verify their work, but also offer them a coffee and a sandwich to motivate them, even if you pay them anyway.
- When it’s done, thank the people who worked with you. If everything went well, they’ve all done a good job and that should be rewarded.
In the last 12 months, I’ve organized and done 3 successful office moves based on these few points.
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