Moving from one place to another ranks near the top of “most stressful life events. It’s only surpassed by a death in the family, divorce, and reaching the end of a series you’ve been binge-watching on Netflix with no replacement lined up. When where you live is also your workplace, your blood pressure can increase exponentially. Just how can you move your home office with minimum disruption to your team, your business, and of course, those who actually live with you?
This isn’t an idle question. Recently I made the move from the suburbs of Chicago to Las Vegas. In doing so, I encountered some problems I expected, and a couple of things that snuck up on me. Here is just a partial list of how to plan a move:
It’s an opportune time for change.
Take a moment to figure out what you like about your current workspace, and what you would change if you could—because now you can! Often when we work from home, we make the best of the current situation. When we are changing our location, though, we can start more-or-less from scratch. If something has not been working, or at least not as well as you’d like, this is an opportunity to fix it.
For example, in my old office back in Chicago, my desk faced a wall, with the glass doors behind me. This worked well with the exception that I was doing more and more work on webcam. Lights coming from behind me meant half the time I looked like the “mystery witness” on a crime documentary. I had a couple of work-arounds that worked well enough, but it wasn’t ideal.
When I set up the new office, I was able to position myself differently so now I have a window to look out of. That’s a mixed blessing for someone with my attention span, though. I also have a blank wall behind me which looks far more appealing on camera. The solution was something I’d never considered before: putting my desk in the middle of the room instead of against a wall. If I hadn’t taken the time to daydream the perfect scenario, that might not have happened.
Could I have made this same move in the old location? Maybe, but it seemed like an awful lot of work and I never quite got around to it. Since everything was being rearranged anyway, it was a good time to get things just right. This is your chance to make those little changes that can make a big difference.
Create a project plan for the move.
It’s easy to lump the office relocation in with the rest of your household tasks, but remember you want to be set up and ready to go as quickly as possible, and without making your co-workers crazy. Among the things you need to put in this plan:
- Utilities and communication. When will the old office lose internet, telephone and electricity? When do you need it up and running at the new location? What will you do in between? Build some cushion into this timeline for peace of mind. You can’t control the cable company. Trust me on this.
- Equipment and supplies. Things get lost, thrown out, and broken during a move. Make a list of what you need on day one working in the new location and make sure it’s packed where you can get at it or purchased in advance so you can hit the ground running.
- Examine your calendar for critical milestones and deadlines. Weeks before you make the move, you should be aware of what deadlines, meetings, or events will fall during the time window of the move. (Not the day of the move, but the week or two leading up to and following the big day). Are there things that can be finished in advance, moved to after the craziness, or shifted to another person? If not, what contingency plans are in place to be able to have that call or meeting? Clearing as much of your calendar as possible will reduce the chance of missing something vital, not being able to meet a deadline, or just getting distracted and not being at your best.
- Keep stakeholders apprised of your timeline and contingencies. Let your teammates, boss, and customers know that you are moving, when normal operations will start to change, and when you plan to be fully functional again. Don’t assume they’ll get it the first time. Include vital information such as dates, emergency contacts, and who else to contact if you are out of touch. Post it in multiple places; in your email and IM statuses, email signatures, and shared calendars.
Start creating your plan early. No mortal being can possibly think of everything in a move, but by creating a plan and allowing it to morph as new ideas occur to you, it will be less painful and crazy, Not pain-free, but a whole lot less ugly.
Whether you’re just starting out working from home, or if you want to improve yourself as a virtual employee, we’ve got the perfect course to get you there.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.