While COVID and the dumpster fire that is 2020 has most companies trying to decide between returning to the office or working from home – or a hybrid of the two, many will face the possibility of a move in their future. Moving is a giant pain in the behind. It’s disruptive, costs money, and can take a lot of time. Fear not, this blogpost and Confessions of a Recovering Landlord podcast will walk you through it.

Let’s assume a company has decided to move. What’s the first step?

Decide: 1) where they are moving, 2) when they are moving, and 3) whether they will take their stuff.

Let’s start with the assumption that they will be moving to another building. What’s next?

We recommend that the company creates a timeline of activities required for the move and seek help from experts. By identifying each step in the logical order of occurrence, it will make the overall task less daunting. Share the plan with the chosen mover or ask for their move plans. By comparing those plans against your own activities timeline, you will likely have everything covered.

So how far out should someone start planning?

3-6 Months Before Move:
1. Choose Move Leader . . . someone with excellent communication and organizational skills who has demonstrated good rapport with all employees.
2.  Move Leader may nominate a move team: office layout manager, furniture and equipment manager, telephone and computer manager, employee relocation manager, budget manager.
3.  Decide how to communicate the planned move to employees, customers, etc.
4. Designate target move-in date.
5.  Determine if new stationery and inventory will be needed. Don’t order yet.
6.  Order internet, telephone and overall IT move. Determine if that will be moved separate from FF&E.
7.  Hire architect & interior designer or decorator.
8.  Request move-in policies & procedures from the new landlord. Reserve a date for the move. Elevators, etc.
9.  Research moving companies & get quotes. Discuss what they will move and what you will move.
10. Set a budget and start tracking moving expenses.
11. Determine if any equipment must be duplicated to avoid interruptions in service.
12. Get one set of blueprints of new office space for office layout and space planning – CAD.
13. Get additional set of blueprints for electrical, computer, and telephone location planning – CAD.

2 Months Before Move:
1.  Give notice to current landlord, including exact moving day and times if known. Schedule a walkthrough date.
2.  Notify telephone company of exact moving day. Retain current phone number or choose a new one.
3.  Get acquainted with new location. Contact Chamber of Commerce. Investigate public transportation, parking, banks, and business services. Prepare fact sheet for employees.
4.  Order office signs.
5.  Plan/conduct moving sale.
6.  Re-check insurance coverage on relocation of furniture and company cars.
7.  Prepare press release and promotional materials.

1-4 Weeks Before Move:
1.  Create moving announcements. Distribute to customers, prospects, vendors, etc. three weeks before the move.
2.  Contact utility companies at current and new locations.
3.  Order new office stationery. Deliver to the new location.
4.  Create a move map (who goes from old office to new office). Label boxes per plan.
5.  Contact vending machine services, water, and coffee services at both locations.
6.  Schedule phone coverage during move.
7.  Take stock of all Inventory and be sure everything is properly tagged.
8.  Have employees fill out new landlord’s forms to get keys and access cards.
9.  Collect moving supplies and instruct employees on what their role is.
10. Request a COI from insurance agent.
11. Schedule termination of services at old location (electricity, etc.).
12. Update company address listings online – website, Google, Yelp, social media.
13. Back up all your data.

Moving Day:
1. Follow the plan. Everyone completes the tasks they have been assigned.
2.  Distribute keys and access cards for new building and collect old ones.
3.  Consider bringing in food for everyone while they are working on the move.

After the Move:
1.  Walkthrough old space and document any damage.  Do this with the property manager.
2.  Test and confirm everything is working.
3.  Confirm termination of services in old location.
4.  Dispose of all the boxes and moving materials as agreed with the movers and property manager.
5.  Enjoy the new place!

Wow, that’s a lot.  What if the company doesn’t have that kind of time frame?

This is an ideal schedule. Of course, it can be done far faster if necessary.

What about  referrals for people to help?  Most moving companies with a nationally known name have a commercial moving division that can help. In DFW, Move Solutions is one of the best for moving office tenants in high-rise buildings. They know the procedures and probably have already handled moves in most buildings.

Let’s assume the company is going to move to a work-from-home model. It seems like this will be an easier task than moving to another building. Is that right?  Possibly, but it could be more complicated if all employees are going to work from home and you then have FF&E going in dozens if not hundreds of directions. Some of these steps will still have to be considered while others won’t be necessary. Recommendation would be to go through the same checklist and decide what’s still necessary and what isn’t.

Moving drives most folks nuts.  What do you say to clients that calms them and let them know everything’s going to be all right?  Thousands of companies have moved in the past. Moving companies are experts at this and very helpful. Rely on their expertise. While moving can be stressful, create a plan, work the plan one step at a time. That will take most of the guesswork outta moving.

REATA certainly is a full-service brokerage, isn’t it?  Funny you should say that. I was thinking the exact same thing!  Seriously though, we aren’t full-service enough that we’re going to be carrying boxes and furniture or even coordinating the move for clients, but hopefully this checklist will help for smoother moves and less stress. If someone would like this checklist, they should send us an email or call and we’ll be happy to send them a copy.

Bob Gibbons is a Real Estate Advisor & Tenant Advocate with REATA Commercial Realty, Inc. which is a tenant advisory firm based in Plano, Texas. Bob serves companies in Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, Richardson, Addison, Dallas and the surrounding areas and specializes in companies which lease or buy office and warehouse properties.