Though businesses have adopted more remote and hybrid work arrangements in recent years, the need to move people and resources around in the physical space hasn’t gone away. Checkerboard moves—where one batch of relocations opens up space that’s then filled with the next batch, and so on—are still common. These move projects can be challenging, requiring careful orchestration and rigorous monitoring to address any scheduling gaps or conflicts.
If you’re facing a project with complicated, time-sensitive checkerboard moves, it’s important to know some of the hurdles that are likely to arise. With the right strategies in place ahead of time, you can mitigate the risks and keep your project on track for a timely completion.
1: End users’ schedules will change
Even with a willing group of stakeholders and ample notice ahead of time, a few end users (and possibly entire departments) will almost certainly have last-minute schedule conflicts. Most of these are frequently out of your stakeholders’ control. The accounting group’s month-end activities may have been complicated by a wave of last-minute invoices or a system outage, for example, leaving them scrambling to wrap things up and unable to pack their office contents as planned.
No matter how simple or complex the upcoming checkerboard move plan appears, your team should develop contingency schedules that can be quickly implemented to keep things moving forward. You need to maintain the schedule and there’s often very little wiggle room. That could mean delaying your accounting department’s relocation to give them time to finish out their end-of-month tasks and plugging the purchasing group into their spot in the schedule.
2: Someone’s new setup won’t be to their liking
Desk heights will be wrong, the utilities and connection points won’t be in the correct spot, or the person who’s least tolerant of noise and traffic will somehow wind up with the office closest to the kitchenette—and they won’t be happy about it. Perhaps new outlets were overlooked during construction, or a department manager didn’t put enough thought into where their team members would sit. In each case, implementing a fix could mean a delay, something that has the potential to derail your project.
To keep the timeline in shape, you might consider having a skeleton crew of movers or furniture installers on call to respond to users’ requests. This not only gives you an opportunity to addresses issues before they put a halt to the next phase of the project, it also helps maintain customers’ satisfaction with the move process and your project team’s performance.
3: Your internal support structure might not be available when you need it
Facilities and IT are just two groups that are often involved in executing checkerboard moves. But with normal day-to-day workloads to manage alongside project-related tasks, these internal support teams could encounter conflicts at the worst time. For example, don’t think that the busiest days of your relocation project won’t happen during a massive weather event. And if your maintenance team is busy conducting emergency repairs on a must-keep-running piece of equipment during a windstorm, then the building-related activities needed to support the current batch of moves, such as coordinating new electrical services, might not happen on time.
Thoughtful upfront planning is critical to ensure sure your team understands where flexibility exists in the timeline and where opportunities to compress or consolidate tasks can help smooth out any issues. A close partnership with each vendor involved in the project is also important, since they can help identify potential roadblocks, stand in for internal collaborators, and develop workarounds to keep your relocation plan moving forward.