Packing up your office and moving it to another location is always a complicated process, but being well prepared can reduce the likelihood of complications and problems, saving you time, money, and stress.

Choose the right moving company.

Depending on your organization’s size and industry, you may be able to move your office without the assistance of a specialized moving company. However, just because it is an option doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best option. You may spend more money doing it yourself, in labour costs and lost productivity than it would have cost to contract a dedicated mover. In any case, it’s best to consider all your available options before deciding.

Here are just a few of the many options for moving companies here in Edmonton:

Company Google Business Rating Benefits*
Alta Moving 4.8 stars
(125 reviews)
Also offers seacans, portable offices, and portable and traditional storage options
Packing services included
Disposal of large items included
Free rental of 25 moving boxes with a quote
Action Moving 4.7 stars
(462 reviews)
Nearly 35 years of experience
Additional services available: site survey, layout optimization, file cabinet anchoring and levelling, and more
Office Move Pro 4.7 stars
(31 reviews)
Manufacturer-certified office installers
Climate-controlled storage space available in Edmonton
GPS vehicle tracking
AMJ Campbell 4.5 stars
(183 reviews)
Over 85 years in business
Over 500,000 businesses moved
Additional services available: space planning, furniture consultation, disassembly and reassembly, and more
Right Move 4.1 stars
(152 reviews)
Also offer moving consulting services
Off-hours moving services to get the job done after business hours and on weekends if necessary
Alberta Top Notch Movers 4.1 stars
(55 reviews)
No hidden fees
15-minute billing
Over ten years of experience
Packing services included
Optional storage space
*As described by the business on the website linked here

Ultimately, we can’t decide which moving company will be right for you and your situation. It’s best to get in touch with moving companies early, get a quote, and discuss how their process works. For a large complicated move to go smoothly, everyone involved should feel comfortable working and coordinating with each other.

Plan ahead, plan well.

As the old saying goes: “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Planning ahead helps you anticipate potential obstacles and come up with viable solutions before you need them. The larger your office is and the more things you need to transport, the more complicated your process will be, and thus, the more preparation and planning you should do. Here are some steps you can take to ensure things go smoothly:

1) Take Inventory

Moving can often be an excellent opportunity to reset your layout and make everything more organized on the other end of the process. But it can also become a chaotic headache with paper files and other items getting lost or further disorganized. The best way to prevent this is to ensure everything is organized ahead of time.

One of the first steps you’ll need to complete is taking everything out of your filing cabinets, desk drawers, and other storage locations and putting them in more portable moving boxes. This is an excellent opportunity to go through each storage location and ensure everything is stored in a way that makes sense. If you have any collections of unsorted, miscellaneous files, now is a great time to sort their contents into the appropriate boxes since everything is moving and rearranging.

While it may feel like keeping everything inside and sealing the doors on these furniture pieces would be the simpler way to go, most of them are designed for storage, not transport. This means they are likely too heavy or awkwardly balanced to be safely and conveniently transported with their contents inside. You’re better off moving everything into well-organized, labelled moving boxes, which your moving crew can carry or stack easily.

As files and folders are moved from cabinets and drawers into moving boxes, task a member of your organization, or a team of members, to record which folders went into which containers. Indexing boxes by department, floor, or some other grouping schema can also be helpful with large offices (e.g. “Box 1-1” for the first box of floor/department one).

Once all your files are sorted, compile the records of what went where into a comprehensive inventory of your files. At the end of the process, you’ll use this inventory document to confirm that nothing went missing, so hold onto it.

2) Condense the furniture

Once all the drawers and cabinets are empty, start packing all the non-essential furniture tightly into a back corner. This will free up space for walking past and give you a sense of how much space your items occupy when packed tightly together. That, in turn, will help you choose the right-sized moving truck and estimate the number of trips you’ll have to make.

While efficiency is important, you can’t forget about safety, so make sure that any stacked furniture is arranged safely. Freeing up a few extra square feet of walking space by stacking heavy objects too high isn’t worth the risk of damaging them or, more importantly, injuring your staff or moving crew.

3) Conduct a safety walkthrough

Once everything is stacked safely to the sides and prepared for the move, walk through the whole office one last time with a few members of your team, ideally anyone who will be involved in the moving process. Start from the entrance to the office and work your way through every walkway, looking for any potential hazards as a team.

Loose wires, rugs, and other tripping hazards should be cleared away to prevent falls, even if they seem obvious and easy to avoid. Remember that people will be walking through this area carrying heavy objects and not paying as much attention to where they place their feet.

Approach any stacks of furniture or other items and give them a gentle push or shake. If they wobble or lean in a way that makes you uncomfortable, it’s probably better to take them down. During the move, someone may bump into them while focusing on what they are carrying, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

4) Plan out the new office space

Planning where you want everything to go in your new office space will make the delivery portion of the move smoother than if you have to decide where each item goes on the fly.

Like with the file inventory, go through the office and make a list of types of furniture you have and how many you have of each. This list will be used to help you plan out the new office’s layout, so don’t include any furniture pieces you plan to dispose of during the moving process. If your layout is segmented into discrete sections you plan to recreate in the new space; then it’s probably best to organize your furniture list according to each.

Depending on how much time you have or how compact your new office space will be, it may be worthwhile to record the measurements of each piece along with the type and quantity. If you don’t have the time or don’t anticipate much difficulty making everything fit, then recording some rough estimates of each item’s size should suffice.

If possible, go to the new office space with some relevant team members and at least one person from the moving crew to plan out the new office layout. Consult the furniture inventory you created earlier to ensure each item is accounted for in the new space.

5) Plan out the move itself

Now that you have the old space prepared and the new space planned out work with your moving team to plan out the step-by-step process by which the move will proceed. Considering the available walkways, labour and moving tools available, the planned layout of the new space, and any other relevant details, decide which items from which sections should be moved first.

Ultimately, there are far too many specific and circumstantial factors for any sweeping generalizations, but here are a few guidelines to consider, in rough order of importance:

  • Start near the door: all else being equal, it’s best to start from the section closest to the office’s exit and work back toward the outer walls. Moving the items near the back before those in the front will mean maneuvering around them to get to the door.
  • Start with the section which will be furthest from the door in the new space: a smooth delivery from your current office to the new area involves both an efficient packing up of the items and an efficient deposition into the new space. Applying the same principle above, consider which items will be the least in the way once you start filling your destination.
  • Larger items go first: by moving the largest items in a section first, you free up space quickly and make packing the moving truck easier and more efficient. As space in the truck is filled, the remaining space available becomes increasingly awkward and unforgiving. Ending with the smallest items makes it easier to fill those unusual spaces, saving you time and decision-making energy and keeping each load more compact and efficient.
  • Keep wait and fragility in mind: while it is good to start with the larger items, sometimes the smaller items are denser and thus heavier when occupying the same space (e.g. heavy boxes of paper files). Packing many heavy, if compact, items on top of a large piece of furniture which was not designed to hold that much weight can result in serious damage.

When estimating how long the moving process will take, unfortunately, it’s best to be pessimistic. You should hope for the best, of course, and plan to make it happen, but you should also be prepared if things take longer than expected. Like with any other multifaceted process involving many people and steps, there will inevitably be complications and delays.

Depending on how much time you have, estimate the amount of time that each step in the moving process should take, including the drive from one office to the other. Identify chokepoints which could slow things down, like elevators or stairwells, and plan for possible hold-ups or delays.

If at all possible, spread out the parts of the process that won’t disrupt workflow across multiple days. For example, if you have access to the new space before the moving date, you’ll save yourself stress and time by having some smaller items move earlier.

While detailed planning can help you anticipate and plan for potential problems, no plan is perfect, and it’s best to assume that something will come up you hadn’t prepared for. Once you have a combined estimate of how long the process should take from start to finish, add another 20% to that time. This will give you a margin to account for complications and problems that you couldn’t see coming.

What if you didn’t have to move your files?

If your office has a large volume of paper files, you can save yourself a lot of work and worry by getting them digitized before the move. In fact, the lead-up to a move is the perfect time to enhance your information management with digitization, since you’ll have to pack all those files up either way. Digitizing means that you won’t have to unpack them at the new location, however, saving half of the work of moving your files. Plus, once your information is digital, you’ll never have to move it again, making any future office moves simpler and easier.

Digitizing your files also gives you the option to spread the process out before the move, making the day of the move less stressful. This is especially helpful if you don’t have access to the new office space until the day of the move, as it gives you a way to clear out some of your cargo ahead of time.

Any time you digitize, you’ll need to create a list of all your files to verify later with the service provider, the same kind of list you would have to make before a move to verify that nothing went missing.

The point is, moving your paper files is a significant portion of the work of an office move. Digitizing them instead takes significantly less work, can be done gradually ahead of time, and only needs to be done once, preparing you for any future moves as well.

Get in contact with us today to find out how digitization can help make your office move simpler and easier, and ensure that your organization is more flexible and resilient on the other side.