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  • Writer's pictureAmelia Curic

Anatomy of a large relocation project

Most relocation projects involve staff numbers in the dozens or the hundreds .. but what’s it like planning the relocation of thousands of staff? Typically organisations of this size will appoint a relocation management consultant who will work closely and smoothly with the internal teams that are allocated to deliver the project. Here are the characteristics of a successful, large-scale relocation project:

Strategic input

High-level discussions with senior management in the early days are really helpful. Your relocation management consultant needs to develop a solid understanding of your organisation. Knowledge of your key drivers, workforce demographics, its lines of business, work practices, and reasons for relocating will all affect the advice and service you receive.

Communications about the change

The first deliverable is usually a relocation strategy. This strategy is sometimes presented at

board level, and will be a reference document for management to use in planning discussions. Then, once management across the organisation are ready, the relocation consultant engages in consultations with the organisation’s own project teams for the relocation, which can include Facilities Management, Human Resources, communications and change management teams. 

Another important step is the early development of the communications strategy. Whether the organisation has its own communications team or not, there needs to be a well-considered, structured approach to communicating with staff about the relocation. A successful plan will engage and excite staff about the new location.

Optimising the opportunities

While moving to new premises can be as simple as a ‘lift and shift’, relocations can provide fantastic opportunities to transform the way the organisation operates. Examples of such opportunities: changing from paper-based systems to paperless, designing a more efficient utilisation of space, and transitioning from static work settings to activity based working, where staff are provided a variety of types of settings in which they can choose to work. 

Large organisations planning a relocation will often benefit from an audit of utilisation of current spaces, and of storage. Discovering and taking opportunities to save space can result in significant cost savings, helping offset the costs of the relocation itself.

Clever use of technology

Technology offers both the relocating organisation and its consultant many ways to plan and manage these projects. Examples include:

  • tablets and apps to generate fast, accurate reports on current and projected space and storage utilisation, and to provide gap analysis

  • setup of intranet pages and portals for staff to obtain information about the relocation, as well as e-newsletters and Powerpoint presentations

  • Gantt and other project management software to map and communicate key milestones, dependencies and critical success factors

  • web based tools for organising all the logistics and data and real-time collaboration on the project

  • Software such as Zoom for project team videoconferencing

Working as a partnership

In projects of this size, it’s vital that team members work well together. That happens best when objectives are aligned, responsibilities are clearly communicated, and there’s a genuine desire all round to see the project succeed. In a great partnership, one party steps up if or when the other has difficulties. Risks are foreseen, discussed openly and managed together. The relocation consultant who adopts a flexible approach will dovetail their activities to fit within the plans made by the relocating organisation. 

What does this approach look like? It might include attending architects’ meetings, finding environmentally responsible ways of disposing of unwanted furniture, managing a tender to procure suitable removalists, or providing staff to attend a help desk for the first few days at the new site.

This approach almost always includes organising and running regular meetings with ‘move champions’ who represent their department or floor. Over the whole course of the relocation project, a skilled relocation consultant will develop solid working relationships with an organisation’s key staff and deliver tailored results that meet formal and informal objectives.

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