Moving Day: How to Protect Your Company During a Relocation

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When making a final decision on a mover, Nutes adds, it's important to do a background check. At one point in his consulting career, he says, he was doing due diligence on a trucking company and discovered it had ties to a criminal organization.

Seal boxes securely

For those who think taping boxes is just a mindless task, think again. The tape you use can show you whether any boxes were opened during the move. It's worthwhile, therefore, to invest in evidence sealing tape rather than traditional packing tape, because it allows you to see whether the seal has been broken or even tampered with. If you do use regular tape, Nutes says, have the person sealing the boxes write his or her name across the tape so you can see if it's been cut and resealed.

To make inventory easy, says retired FBI special agent Peter Yachmetz, you should also label each box "1 of 30, 2 of 30" and so on, so you can quickly track them.

Whether you empty file cabinets or move them with documents still inside will probably depend on the requirements of your mover, Nutes says. If the cabinets are full, don't rely on their locks, as most can easily be picked with a paper clip, he says. Instead, put evidence sealing tape over each drawer to ensure no one has tried to break in.

Put all eyes on deck

No matter how much you trust your moving company, Berndt warns, you should form an oversight team that watches every move the movers make--from picking up the boxes at the old location, through loading and unloading the truck, to putting them down in the new building. Team members should be given specific assignments in individual areas or departments and trained to watch for suspicious behavior.

"We assigned people in shifts to watch the movers and make sure they were just carrying things out and not getting into them," he says. "Everything we moved, employee personnel were watching. Could we keep an eye on absolutely everything at all times? No. But we never had people unattended when the equipment was in place on either side or when they were with anything that would be of a secure nature."

Another reason to keep watch is to look for physical damage, Berndt says. "You can't come back a week later and say, 'This desk was damaged,'" he says. "You have to do it the first day."

Yachmetz says oversight at the FBI went even further. Agents, not movers, pushed carts full of boxes out to the truck, accompanied by a security escort. Additional agents watched the truck as boxes were loaded, then were stationed in the back of the truck and the cab for the drive to the new location. Security escorts both followed and led the truck. At the new destination, the process was repeated in reverse.

Create a chain of custody

Creating a chain of custody ensures that if anything does turn up missing, you can go back through the inventory lists and checklists you've created to see who was the last to have ownership of each box.

As soon as boxes and file cabinets are sealed, Nutes says, they should be placed in a secure area, ideally with a security officer assigned to it. The officer should sign for each box that is brought to the area, and he or she should have a list of anyone who is permitted into that area, including the names of all movers involved.

In the new location, personnel should be assigned to monitor each area where boxes will be delivered, verify that their seals are intact, and sign for each box. During FBI moves, Yachmetz says, inventory is also taken when unloading the truck. Each agent has a list of numbers representing boxes that he or she packed and is responsible for recording whether those boxes come off the truck.

At Dacor, boxes were marked with the name of the person to whom it belonged. At the new building, maps were posted showing the location of each person's office.

Avoid stranger danger

Moving day itself can be chaotic, with doors propped open and movers walking the hallways. Extra precautions need to be taken to ensure would-be thieves are not taking advantage of this situation. "With industrial and corporate espionage, it's not unheard of that a competing company would have their employees get hired by the moving company to sneak into the facility," Nutes says. Not to mention, in a multi-tenant building, you could have other companies' trucks at the loading dock. If you're on a public street, passersby could also have easy access.

Dacor's Valldejuli says he trained employees to ask for identification when they encountered anyone they didn't recognize and couldn't identify as a mover. "Doors were open and boxes were flying back and forth," he says. "Plus, in the year before the move, we lost three laptops in what we believed to be a very secure building, so our eyes were open."

Another precaution is to designate just one area for boxes to be moved out of, such as the loading dock or front entrance, and prominently position a security guard there with list of who is allowed in, Nutes says. Everyone on the access list should be given some form of identification, he says, such as a visitor's badge.

Secure the truck in transit

Before the truck rolls away, Nutes says, you should map out a route with the moving company. That way you'll know how long the drive should take and, if it takes too long, can figure out whether they stopped along the way. Another precaution is to place a numbered security seal on the truck door locks to ensure you'll know if they were opened.

Valldejuli even assigned someone to follow the truck, since it was just a 45-minute drive.

Don't advertise your relocation plans

Although some companies might think of a corporate relocation as a chance for positive public relations, it's better to publicize the move after the event, not before, especially if you're in an industry with valuable intellectual property, Yachmetz says. This is especially true if you're moving into a brand-new building, where construction workers could plant listening devices in the walls. "You should keep it close to the vest for as long as you can," he says. In fact, when it was building a new office, the FBI ran a background check on everyone involved in its construction. "If they found anything unacceptable, they were not allowed to be part of the building crew," Yachmetz says.

Move during off-peak times of the year and day

Summer is the busiest time for moving companies, so to avoid capacity constraints and slow customer service, try to move at another time of year. According to a study by J.D. Powers in 2007, the least busy time to move is in the first quarter.

Time of day can also improve your security outlook. At DataServ, Berndt says, they exited the old building around 2:30 and entered the new one at about 5:00. "That reduced the number of people running around in the hallways because it was an after-hours move," he says.


Moving is stressful, whether it's a corporate or personal move. That's why Berndt says you shouldn't forget to celebrate when it's all finished. "We had a mandatory Saturday that people had to come in and ensure we'd be up and running for Monday," he says. "But we made sure everyone was well fed, and when we were finished, we had some beverages."

This story, "Moving Day: How to Protect Your Company During a Relocation" was originally published by CSO.

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