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Stay Productive During A Move

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Even moving to a new office on the next floor can interrupt your productivity. Moving your team to a building in a new part of town can cause a major reduction in its output. You can't eliminate the downturn in productivity, but you can minimize it by preparing for it.

Plan

Usually someone is responsible for planning the entire move, often the Facilities Manager. That person has to think about all the people and all the departments involved in the move. He or she will do a lot of careful planning around the move. Your job, however, is to plan your team's part of the move. Coordinate with the move planner, but focus on you team's requirements.
  • Can you move before (or after) everyone else?
    Moving a week before everyone else can help you avoid some of the inevitable confusion of a mass move. Moving on Sunday instead of Monday has the same effect. Moving a week later lets things settle down a little.
  • Make your stuff extra visible.
    The movers will be moving lots of boxes. Most will get to the right place right away. If something from your team gets misplaced you want to be able to find it quickly. Just like you mark you luggage so you can find it fast in the airport, mark all your boxes, furniture, etc. so they are easy to find if the end up in the wrong location. Big, bold symbols (department number) in bright colors written on each box can help. Make sure the labels are on at least two sides as well as the top of the box.
  • Make a list.
    Have everyone on your team keep a list as they are packing of what is in each box and then keep a list of all their boxes. That way if a box is missing, you will know what is in and how important it is to find it compared to addressing other issues.
  • Hand carry one box.
    Have everyone pack one box with their essentials. Then have them take that box home with them the night before the move and hand carry it into the office the day of the move. That way, all the things they have to have to do their work will be available.

Move the Move

One way to survive a move is to avoid it. If some of your team can work from a different location on moving day, that's a good way to keep them productive until things get sorted out. See if they can work from a different office or plant. Let them work from home if that is an alternate. Libraries and coffee shops with Internet access are also good options.

Develop Alternatives

It is likely that there will be problems with the phones and/or the network as a result of the move. Talented people will be working hard to solve those problems quickly, but you need to keep working until the problems are solved. Have your team figure out things that they can do without phones or network access if it becomes necessary.
  • Read the reports you haven't had time for
  • Write the specification document that you don't need to look up any material for.
  • Build the slides for the presentation you have to give next week

Notify Clients

It is also a good idea to let your customers know ahead of time that your response time may be a little slower during the move. Let them know when the move will be taking place. Make sure they have several ways to reach you if they need to. Make sure they have other people then can contact if they can't reach you directly. And don't forget you internal clients. People in other offices may not know, or remember, that this is moving day for you. Finally, be sure to reach out to all of them when the move is complete and things are back to normal.

Pareto Was Right

Vilfredo Pareto is the author of Pareto’s Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 Rule means that in anything a few (20 percent) are vital and many (80 percent) are trivial. In the case of a move, it means you need to focus on the 20 percent of things that are really important to your team's productivity and not worry too much about the other 80 percent. Some things will go wrong that you have no control over. Other things will go right even without you being involved. Channel your energy toward resolving those few key items that matter to your team.

Accept the Inevitable

No matter how well you prepare for the move, no matter how carefully you document your materials, no matter the extent to which you develop alternates, some things will go wrong during a move.

First of all, stay calm. Shouting or threatening isn't going to get anything resolved faster. In fact, it may move your team to the bottom of the queue. Retain your sense of humor. It may be the only thing that gets you through these couple of days.

Realize that there will be some downtime. It can't be helped. The will be some period of time when your team is less productive than usual. You will have done everything you can to reduce the loss and shorten the duration, so just accept the reduction that does occur.

Bottom Line

Moves, no matter how small, reduce people's productivity for an average of a full day before the move and two to three days afterwards. Take steps ahead of time to prepare for the move. Focus on removing yourselves from as much of the turmoil of the move as possible. Have your alternates and options planned ahead of time so you can use then when needed. And remember everyone else involved in the move is trying as hard as you are to get through it with as few problems as possible.

Demonstrate to your team, and to your manager, that you have the planning skills to prepare for the move, the leadership skills to keep your team focused during the move, and the teamwork skills to stay calm. You will survive and be back to normal sooner than you think.

What's Your Experience?

If you have moving stories or tips to share, good or bad, click the comment link just below and let us know about them.

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