5 steps to successful office relocation

7 min read
5 steps to successful office relocation
Brian Kyed
March 11th, 2019

Ready for the big move? If you’re planning an office relocation, follow our Employee Experience Manager’s tips to make sure the process goes swimmingly

Changing homes is a thrilling experience in anyone’s life; the great feeling of a new beginning, the new neighbors, the excitement of furnishing and decorating the space.

An office relocation is an experience as exciting as moving homes but multiply those grand expectations with 80 that’s the current headcount of Airtame at this moment.

My name is Ana, and I’m Airtame’s proud Employee Experience Manager. It’s my goal to help Airtame employees feel at home, whether in a temporary space or in a new office. It’s also my job to make sure every move goes as smoothly as possible.

These are my learnings from going through several moving processes with big companies and how I plan to apply it with the upcoming Airtame office relocation.

Planning a new HQ

While some employees work remotely and others from our cool office in New York City, the Airtame HQ in Copenhagen is the core of our culture. The people working here regularly should, of course, feel at home, but when those remote workers come to visit, they should feel welcome too.

Not only that, but we’re also trying to push our limits in the way we design our new office space. It’s an old building that we are completely renovating, and we thus have the opportunity to start from scratch and try to fit in all of our needs – plus a little something for the future.

We want the Airtame HQ to be one of the best working spaces in Copenhagen, a space that accommodates everyone’s needs. It should be a space that both nurtures teamwork and communication while still making room for deep solo work.

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Plan, prepare, test, repeat

Moving offices is not just about showing up on Monday morning at a new address; it can be a key experience in any employee’s journey if organized well. It’s a chance to work together and help form the new surroundings, and I’d actually go so far as to say it’s an empowering exercise for everyone involved.

Ever heard Abraham Lincoln’s famous words: ’’Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe’’? We took those words very literally because we believe a smooth transition, in this instance a move, should always be founded on excellent planning.

I’ve helped Airtame move once before, and I’ve learned in the process that there are five important steps to consider:

1. Prior to the move

This is in some ways the most important part of the whole moving process because, without it, the move will be chaotic and stressful for all parties involved.

Everyone has an opinion about seating plans and new furniture, and while it’s great to have democratic processes in a company, it’s impossible to let everyone get a say. That’s why we sat together the interior designer, our two CEOs, and the People Team to prepare the moving process.

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Important steps to consider early on

2. The teams’ contributions

Clear communication is extremely important both before, throughout the move and afterward. Keep your employees in the loop with updates about the moving date, seating plan, moving schedule, and general expectations it ensures transparency around the planning and keeps people engaged.

Even if you don’t have anything to communicate, I believe it’s important to notify what you’re doing, so something as simple as reiterating the current status will still be of great value.

When the big day is soon approaching, encourage the team to get involved. Use this opportunity to engage employees socially and gather people in groups to oversee specific projects such as guiding the movers, wrapping coffee cups etc. Make the experience enjoyable for everyone and think of it as an opportunity for your colleagues to bond with each other.

3. The move

This is the big day. Last time we moved, we planned on doing it during the weekend so everyone would arrive on Monday morning to a brand new office. We’ll do the same this time around.

How well the move goes depends very much on the planning beforehand, however. My best advice is to plan for it to be smooth, structured, and perfectly organized but expect it to be messy and challenging!

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IT equipment such as networking setup is the first thing that should be moved. While it’s nice to have the plants safe and sound at the new office, it’s more important to get the network up and running.

We’re hiring a moving company but I’ll be overseeing the move as the “move manager”. It makes sense because I’ve sketched out the seating plan and know where everything and everyone should go. We encourage our employees to join and move lighter objects such as plants or their personal items, but they should refrain from moving anything heavy – that’s why we hire professionals.

Luckily our new HQ is located right next to the building we’re staying in now, so even if the weather gods won’t indulge us, we are not going to have a huge problem.

4. First day at the new office

Unpacking and getting settled is necessary and important, but the first day at a new place shouldn’t only be about those dull tasks. We want to celebrate the fresh start with something nice for everyone. I think bubbles and cupcakes are definitely in order!  

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5. Adjustment period

This stage is usually the most underestimated phase of a moving process. It’s not over once all the furniture has been moved from A to B; it continues with the settling-in period. In my experience, this phase can last several weeks until everything is fully functional, the storage spaces are all sorted, the new canteen is fully equipped, etc.

Handing over the old space is part of this phase too. Sometimes there are things that need fixing before a handover and this takes a lot of time and focus away from settling in in the new space. This is one of the reasons why I think this stage shouldn’t be underestimated, so plan on tackling the ghost of the old space before it’s too late.

In the adjustment period, other challenges could arise. This is where all the planning that went into the moving project beforehand has to stand the test. Remember that all good intentions might not work in reality, such as seating plans and desk setups. Play around with it, gather feedback from employees, and start implementing changes thereafter. Nothing has to be perfect from the get-go.

The Danish rules on health and safety state that we must have a health and safety organization made up of certified employees that represent all of Airtame. They’ll be helping me and the rest of the People Team gather feedback via online surveys, a physical “feedback box”, and open discussions with their co-workers. Sharing the work with them makes sure I’m not missing something.

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Ready for a new chapter?

As you can tell from my post, moving offices is both an exciting and challenging project to handle. Don’t underestimate all the hard work that comes with it. That being said, I also think it’s important to add fun to it where applicable, make it a social and enjoyable experience for everyone involved. With these five steps, you’re well on your way to a smooth move.

Have you gone through the chaos and excitement of moving offices? We’d love to hear what your journey looked like. You’re always welcome to stop by our brand new office in Copenhagen – we hope to see you there!

Looking for more business advice? Check out our 50 tips for better business meetings and the upcoming work trends coming to an office near you

Interested? Let’s talk.

Brian Kyed
Brian is co-Founder and CPO at Airtame. He’s the right side of the brain in the business, which is a fancy way of saying he’s a “dream big”, creative type. When he’s not leading on all things design and product related, he’s crushing it on the football pitch as a striker with Airtame FC.

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