Posted By janice on August 26, 2013
For most of August, my poor Twitter followers and Facebook friends have had to read all about my recent office move adventures at work.
I have been consumed by the office move during the past several weeks for two reasons: 1) we moved into a new building and 2) I am the department’s move coordinator.
Yes, this is what happens when you’re a certified professional organizer. You get to be the move coordinator, and no one appreciates a move coordinator – except the facilities department since they’re in charge of the Big Move.
By its nature, moving is quite simple. You put stuff in a box, label the box, take the box to the new location, open the box and unpack the box. Humans are a messy lot, and human nature complicates everything.
For our department, this move was a big deal. We were moving from a space we outgrew before we moved in five years ago to a new building. The building is a block or two away from the main buildings, where our clients – clinical and research faculty – are. It was nice to run into the doctors in the coffee line, the cafeteria and the elevators, and I can’t tell you how many times I did “hallway therapy” for my organizing and productivity work.
In addition to the move, we were asked to take on expanded duties and change our department name. Naturally, this all occurs at the same time, causing a bit of stress and uncertainty.
Here are a few things I learned during our office move:
The Rules. A work move is completely different from a home move. We are a large organization, and we have rules. Lots of them. Facilities people oversee the construction or remodeling of space and are responsible for moving people out of old spaces and into the new ones.
Just a couple of examples of the rules we had about the move:
- No refrigerators, microwaves and other appliances in your individual office since those are provided in the break rooms. One of my co-workers had to take her appliance collection home.
- You are assigned a certain amount of office space based on your title. Most of us in my department have 100-square-foot offices. For several of us, this was an upgrade since we had to carve out offices from weird spaces in the last move. For example, my old office is still listed as a file room on the master plan – because it was a file room.
- You had to choose between having a bookcase or a file cabinet in your office since there was no room to have both.
- All boxes had to have a label with our office numbers on them, and the labels had to be placed in the same place on all boxes. This meant that the boxes had to be stacked so Facilities could easily see the labels.
- As a state institution, oodles of forms had to be filled out before the move, including: badge reader access, keys issuance, signage list, asset transfer forms, parking, etc.
The Office Pack Rats. Often, I get the question about whether I see hoarding behavior at work, and the short answer is YES. I’ve seen offices with stuff stacked to the ceiling, stacks of paper and things everywhere, and unpacked boxes from previous moves. Moves are harder for those with pack-rat behaviors, and, for some people, our move would mean less office space.
We held several decluttering days to prepare for the move, and we had dumpsters for recycling, trash and shredding. During the last two or three weeks of the move, I just kept the dumpsters in the office to encourage people to lighten their load.
The Office Stuff. As a co-worker and I went through our office supply areas, we discovered little nests of supplies, many of which had been over ordered.
We weeded out the stuff we knew we didn’t use or didn’t use any more, and I posted a Yammer (like in-house Twitter) post that we had extra office supplies.
People from several departments popped up to take extra file folders, a black and white printer, binders and other items to use in their own department. Instead of sending this stuff to our warehouse or tossing it, we saved the institution money by putting unused items back in use in other areas.
Because we obviously had a tremendous amount of office supplies, we decided any office supply orders have to go through our office manager. Anytime someone requests anything, the first question will be, “Have you checked the workroom to see if we already have it?” I’m convinced that the institution as a whole never should have to buy paper clips or binder clips ever.
Take Advantage of Change. I used the move as the opportunity to go as paper free as possible. I went through my hanging files, recycled the stuff that I no longer wanted or needed, and scanned the items I did want. The office manager and I did the same thing for department files so we were able to eliminate drawers full of files.
By becoming more digital, we had less stuff to pack and unpack. This saves us time and money.
Smooth Sailing and Rough Seas. As the move coordinator, my job was to make sure everyone else thinks the move is going smooth. You may be the one dealing with the waves crashing over you, but the others don’t have to see it. If they see it, they begin to panic and stress, and it’s easier to move people when they’re calm and focused.
I created a premove checklist for my department to remind them of what they needed to do before the move. This way, they didn’t have to think about what they forgot to do. Facilitiesliked it so much that they’re using it now.
I love details by nature, and because of my work as a professional organizer, Facilities staffers were excited that I would be an “easy” department. No pressure.
Postmove Madness. Everyone was fine with the move. I was the one who was a total wreck. Anytime someone came to my new office, they had a problem or complaint that I had to handle in some fashion. One person may have an issue or two, but multiply that by the entire department, it becomes a bit maddening.
During a move, you discover how high maintenance some of your co-workers really are. This didn’t really surprise me since the ones who are usually high maintenance were still high maintenance.
By the end of the first week in our new space, I was crankier than Grumpy Cat. I went home early and took a much-needed nap.
In the end, we survived the move as expected and are enjoying the new space.