There are thousands of offices up and down the country that have sat vacant, or at very low occupancy, for almost a year. With hybrid and remote working set to stay in the long term, a lot of companies will be looking at relocating or downsizing. This unique situation presents a new challenge for companies – how to return personal possessions that have been left behind in the office.

Here’s why it must be part of your office move plan and how you can tackle the problem in the safest and most efficient way.

The challenge – returning belongings

The first lockdown saw offices empty overnight as the work from home order came in. Most people left personal items in the office as they assumed they would be back soon enough. However, many people still have not returned since spring 2020 and may not be likely to any time soon or at all for one reason or another.

It may be that their company relocates before they return. Or they might switch to working remotely full-time. While we are still under some form of restrictions, it may not be viable or safe for an employee to come to the office, even if it is just to collect their belongings.

Companies will need to take responsibility for returning personal items. This in itself isn’t necessarily an easy process. Employees may have left belongings in communal areas and cloakrooms and it won’t be immediately obvious what items belong to different employees. In addition, companies need to ensure that after matching an item to a person they are able to return it safely.

Any office move plan worth its salt should already include an audit of some sort. That’s the best option for returning personal belongings.

The solution – a digital audit

A digital audit is the most efficient way to catalogue and track all personal items in an office. Manual audits are an option but keeping track of the paperwork is a clunky process and such an audit may not include photos.

A digital audit is great because multiple members of the moving team can access and update it at any time. This makes it much easier to match items to employees, track when they have been delivered and ensure that nothing falls off the radar.

It can also be done quickly and safely. We recently carried out a digital audit of personal possessions for a major telecommunications company that is in the process of an office move. A two-person team audited 1,000 lockers in just two weeks. Being able to complete the task with only two people helped us to adhere to social distancing rules and minimise the risk of Covid transmission.

As part of the audit, all items were securely stored and clearly tagged. Everything is now safely secured on site to be either delivered to employees, or it will be stored until an employee returns to collect it.

The result – happy employees

In all the tumult of the last 10 months, may employees probably don’t even remember everything they left behind. Knowing that their company is taking steps to ensure the safe return of all of their belongings will be a welcome relief.

BMG are experts in commercial and office moves and we can help you audit and return all belongings left behind in your office. Contact us today to find out how we can support your office move.

By Rachel Houghton, MD at Business Moves Group

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