Moving into a new office can be an exciting time for a small business, but it can also be very stressful. There are many factors to consider which will help make the process go as smoothly as possible, so before you begin your office relocation, here are three important tips to remember.
Make sure your health and safety is up to scratch
Health and safety laws are there to protect both employer and employee from potential dangers in the workplace. When moving office, employers should be satisfied that their new location meets (and exceeds) basic health and safety standards.
Failing to ensure your employees’ safety during an office relocation can lead to serious hazards that can harm your office and your company at large. To avoid either of these scenarios, a comprehensive workplace risk assessment should be carried out. Business owners must inspect their new location thoroughly to see if any additional security measures need to be put in place, from correct positioning of fire extinguishers to making sure heavy boxes are kept away from common walkways.
It is also essential that your premises are fitted with at least one working fire alarm, security experts Security 201 note that an oft-forgotten aspect of office fire safety is kitchen heat alarms. They note that these alarms “monitor a pronounced increase in temperature rather than smoke,” which is particularly important if there is a toaster in your office’s kitchen—an appliance which is one of the most common causes of office fire alarms being triggered.
Ensure employee data is protected
Under data protection laws, employers are obliged to protect information about their employees, but this gets harder to do in the event of an office relocation. Transporting data is not as simple as moving furniture and equipment from one place to another. Losing a chair or a computer can be an annoyance; losing data can be a crime.
Even in an increasingly paperless world, all businesses will still have cabinets full of paperwork, with sensitive details about employees and clients. Employers must make sure that any files are stored safely and securely. Small business owners should also be aware of new data protection laws, set to come into effect next year; if these guidelines are not followed, your business could face potentially crippling fines.
In the age of technology, it’s not just physical data you need to worry about; information stored in the cloud or on hard drives is just as important. Before you move in, make sure your new office has a secure wifi connection, or have one set up in time for your arrival, to minimise the risk of hacks. You should also ensure that employees make their passwords as hard to guess as possible, and encourage them to change them once every nine months or so. Professionals have noted that changing passwords any more regularly than that actually leads to people coming up with less secure passwords under pressure.
Tell clients about your upcoming move in advance
Any business would cease to exist if it were to lose its clients and customers, and while a small business relocation is always going to incur costs, neglecting to inform clients of your move will only increase the financial burden.
Clients must be told well in advance so they can prepare for the event, especially if visits to your premises are fundamental to their business. By doing this you will ensure that you are not left with angry clients; both parties involved must be on the same page so that your clients don’t expect your maximum input when you are not in the position to provide it.
When moving office, small businesses must remember to notify any suppliers and utility companies that your business uses regularly. Employers should also remember to update their website, as well as any online listings or directories to ensure your contact details are up to date. Banks will require early notification to ensure enough time for changes such as the address on company checks, to be updated.
Moving office can be difficult for employees too, especially when it comes to their commute—whether it be public transport or parking spots. Employees should be informed of every step of the moving process to make sure they are well-prepared for the change, and can pass on their calm attitude to clients.