Keep on Moving: A Look Inside the Removals Industry with Universal Commercial Relocation (UCR)

Keep on Moving: A Look Inside the Removals Industry with Universal Commercial Relocation (UCR)

28-07-15 10:5 BIFM

BIFM has been working with the British Association of Removers (BAR) to explore how the ever changing work environment and market trends have impacted the commercial removals sector, as many organisations seek new premises to cope with the demands of modern business. 

Sarah Cole (pictured right), Managing Director of Universal Commercial Relocation (UCR), winners of the 2015 British Commercial Movers of the Year at the British Association of Removers (BAR) Awards has seen some big changes in the last decade:

“Historically, the scope of work was limited primarily to the physical relocation of office furniture.  Keeping in step with the evolving face of the workplace, the moving industry has engaged more and more in specialist value adding services such as I.T relocation and services, complex file mapping, records storage and specialist moves such as libraries, hospitals and museums.

One of the biggest challenges that UCR has had to overcome is the growing emphasis on supply chain compliance. With clients wanting increasing assurances on the quality, environmental and health and safety reputation of removal companies, the introduction of British Standard 8522 in commercial moving in 2009, has allowed (Cole, who is a former commercial property solicitor) to grow the organisation whilst maintaining an interest in compliance.

This growth, Cole believes is also based on the service and convenience a professional mover provides.

“As an industry, we are increasingly focused on raising the profile of commercial moving companies as the move specialists within the workplace arena.  In my current role as Chair of the Commercial Moving Group within the British Association of Removers, I am keen to promote the advantages of sourcing move support from a professional mover.  As reflected in the results of the this year’s  BAR/BIFM “Moves and changes in an evolving workplace” survey, move services are increasingly being also offered by fit out companies, architects, furniture suppliers and TFM organisations where relocation is not the core business, and specialist move accreditation is not held. “

Peter Morrison, Head of Facilities for a2Dominion, a Social housing company with properties in London and the South East of England, believes that these additional products can set large removals like UCR apart:

“When working with UCR, I was impressed with the range of additional services such as project management, telephony, space audits, recycling off site storage they were able to offer. These certainly added value to their offer. I can see that trend continuing in the industry. I can remember doing a move 15 years ago and those services were not offered by the removal company then, it was more a men, van and crates operation.”
Transformative moving
Many organisations are taking the opportunity to look at an upcoming relocation as a catalyst for transformation.  The move planning is less building centric and more people centric.  Organisations are asking themselves:

  • Can we work leaner and smarter in the new building increasing staff agility, flexibility and productivity?
  • Can we try new workplace layout to maximise space utilisation and sustainability whilst promoting closer staff collaboration and engagement as stakeholders?   
  • Through workplace design, can we promote our brand, improve staff well being and effectiveness whilst using the new building in a more cost efficient way?

The answer to these questions usually reveals that rather than bending people to the environment they work in, it is better to tailor the environment for the benefit of the employee. As a Managing Director of a large removal organisation, Cole has seen the effect of this shift.

“New ways of working have introduced hot-desking, lockers and alternative office systems than traditionally deployed.  We work closely with the client to ensure not only that the physical transition is as smooth as possible, but that staff is engaged and informed throughout the process so that they are “on board” with the change and understand the reasons and the advantages of the new approach.  A move is a huge risk to business continuity, so we plan carefully with the client to mitigate all risk, and offer a total move solution. “

The Future of Moving   

With predictions that professional services companies will need an additional 5.1 million square feet of office space by 2019 as reported recently by CBRE, more companies will be on the move.  

Looking at Universal’s client base in London, Cole believes that relationship management will the most important factor in choosing a removal firm.

“Positive collaboration is key to the success of a move project.  In the competition judging, it is not only technical and service delivery that is scrutinised, but client experience and relationship management that is assessed in determining the quality of the move service.  Clients quite rightly expect not only a professional service, but a tailored and personal move solution adding value and engendering trust.  As a company, that is what we always strive for.

On a personal point I am pleased to see the amount of women in this industry, I hope this trend continues. "

BIFM and BAR have also published a good practice guide for organisations and professionals who have responsibility for commercial moves within their business.

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