How to Improve Productivity with an Office Move

One of the central tenets of my productivity-improvement work with my clients is to, where possible, maximize what is already available to you. Often, we don’t need a complete overhaul of work processes and technology. We need to take full advantage of current resources and time.


Enter the office move…


I have guided several companies through the tumultuous process of office relocations, on large and small scales. I love office moves – it is a fantastic time to reconsider the old “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality. And, done with intention, an office relocation is a perfect opportunity to improve productivity for the entire organization.


One client with whom I worked was a 5,000-employee company spread out across eleven downtown buildings. During their corporate relocation to a centralized campus, we were able to reduce paper by 73%. Hundreds of five-drawer file cabinets were “retired” during this year-long process.


Another client was a large law firm. Working with the attorneys and staff to reduce excess paper resulted in a $300,000 savings on the move. Paper-loving lawyers learned the benefits of a more electronic culture.


Don’t pass up the opportunity for both the one-time and lasting savings of money and time that can come from an office relocation.


Maximize the opportunity that is available to you. Here’s how…



1. Set Goals for your move…beyond just “getting it over with”


An office move is a time of fluidity. It is a chance to introduce cultural changes to your organization.


With both clients referenced above, I helped them envision a final state in the new office location. We considered the people, processes, and technology needed to achieve their goals.


Below are the goals set by one of my past clients for their company move:


We have two goals to achieve BEFORE the move:


(1) Reduce paper by 50% prior to the move

  • Shred duplicates, extra copies, drafts
  • Recycle unneeded reference materials


(2) Close 75% of existing inactive physical files

  • On which there has been no billing activity in one year
  • Move to off-site storage


And, here is an overview of what things will be like AFTER the move:


  • The electronic client file will be the master record and file
  • Open cases can be retained in paper format per attorney/client needs
  • Except for certain original documents, physical file materials will be…
    • Scanned when created or received, or
    • Scanned when the case is closed, or
    • Discarded, recycled, or returned to the client


Isn’t that much better than “Put your stuff in boxes by July 31…or else!”?



2. Provide time and resources to prepare for the move


Too often, move preparation consists of telling people to pack by such-and-such date…and that’s it.


Compare that approach to what this client did…


The office relocation will be here before we know it. Many of you have already been diligently reviewing the closed file list and sending files offsite. Thank you to those who have made it through their list and kudos to those still working hard on it.


Another goal that has been set for the move is to reduce excess office paper by at least 50% prior to the move. It costs money to move and retain paper, so it is important to move only what we really need.


The definition of “excess paper” includes:

  • Duplicates (i.e., “convenience copies”) of files that are inactive, closed, or just no longer needed
  • Reference materials that can be easily re-procured from electronic sources
  • Printouts of electronic files that were needed for temporary purposes but have found more permanent homes in your office or workstation


We have set aside six “Move Preparation Days” to offer you the support, equipment, and time you need to get ready for the move.


On these designated Fridays, you will find:

  • Extra boxes on-hand for shipping to offsite storage
  • Extra shred bins available for paper sorting and purging


Company leaders will make the rounds to answer questions you may have about the move. You can wear blue jeans while doing your sorting and purging.



3. Provide support during the actual move


Moving is an emotional time, whether it’s your office or your home. Many of us spend more waking hours in our offices than any other single place. We get attached to the space.


Don’t underestimate this psychological attachment. Company leaders overseeing a move should work to reduce the stress caused by the process.


One client provided the following packing and unpacking tips to all employees:


Tips for loading the packing crates:

  • Load items in reverse order of importance. In other words, put the stuff that you use the least in the first crate you pack – it will be at the bottom of your tower of crates.
  • Only lift empty crates. Save your back and your sanity. Load crates while they sit on the wheeled cart and load from the bottom to the top of the stack.
  • Label, label, label the crates. If you want a crate to find its way back to you in the most efficient manner, follow all directions for labeling without exception.
  • Use the special features available in your crates as needed. File rails keep hanging files, well, hanging. Additionally, there are small holes in the tops of the crates for security seals to ensure that the crate is not opened during transport. This is nice for especially sensitive information.


Here are some tips for setting up your new office:

  • Give each file drawer a function, category, or purpose
  • Organize your small office supplies in a drawer (preferably with drawer dividers)
  • Keep larger office supplies in an overhead bin or cabinet with a metal or plastic paper sorter/rack inside it
  • Make a home for your personal items – keep them together
  • Keep items you use daily within arm’s reach


Reducing an overwhelming process to some simple steps can comfort stressed-out people.



When I moved into my home a few years ago, I made a plan.


First, we sorted and purged everything…I mean everything. When you are paying movers by the pound, you get a whole new perspective on your stuff. That 10-pound dumbbell I hadn’t lifted in five years was the first thing in the donation box.



Second, we measured each room in the new home, measured the furniture, and then mapped out where every stick of furniture would go.


Lastly, we reaped the rewards of all this planning. When the movers unpacked the truck, they just followed the maps. Boxes ended up in the correct rooms, and we settled quickly into our new life.


Change your perspective about an office move. It is not that different from a personal relocation.


Done well, moving your office can do more for you and your company than just a change of scenery. I can help. Contact me to help you, your team, or your entire organization maximize your next office relocation.


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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.



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