One of the most difficult and time consuming portions of the construction of a new laboratory is preparing and orchestrating a move. Boxes. Packing. Accumulated ephemera from years of work. Cords and cables, obsolete instruments, old reagents—it’s almost overwhelming to consider. While the idea of a new laboratory can be thrilling, the monumental task of the move can dampen some of the enthusiasm. Despite the trepidation, with some organization and forethought you can make the best of an inevitable situation. It is important to start early to plan for the process. Beginning to strategize about your move should begin as soon as you break ground on your building.
The first step is to determine who will be involved with the move. It is important to involve all staff in the move process, but utilizing key persons within your organization to act as move captains can be helpful, particularly if you have a larger staff. Begin by meeting with your move committee and determine key dates in the move process to disseminate to the remainder of the staff. Establish a regular schedule of move meetings to keep everyone in the loop and to address issues as they arise.
The first step in the move process is always spring cleaning or purging accumulated items. This is the perfect opportunity to assess reagents, instrumentation, files, and all of the “maybe-this-will-be-useful-someday” parts and pieces that have been shoved in closets, mechanical rooms, underneath tables, and in drawers and cabinets in the laboratories. If you don’t need it, haven’t used it, and don’t want to use it, trash, recycle, or donate items.1 Start an inventory chart in each section for items that will be moving to the new lab. If you already have an inventory chart, take this opportunity to update it. This list can be used as a checklist after the move for accounting purposes.
Designate certain days in your lab as move preparation days. If you have a dress code, relax it for those days so that your staff feels comfortable digging through those old closets and cabinets. Each individual staff member should be responsible for packing up his or her own personal effects. If you have a number of pack rats on your hands, you may want to consider limiting the number of boxes that each person can have for their personal effects.
Well in advance of the move, begin researching moving companies. You may want to establish an RFP (request for proposal) to find qualified movers for the process. Research their insurance and check their references. Understand what their insurance and bonding will and will not cover in the event of an issue. Remember to keep things in perspective when assessing quotes from your mover—will saving $200 on the move save you or cost you more in headaches and finger-pointing?
Consider how you will move case files and evidence to ensure chain-of-custody. If you are a facility which processes evidence from other jurisdictions, can you arrange for those jurisdictions to pick up and receive return custody of the evidence? How will you handle evidence or materials that need to maintain refrigeration or freezer temperatures? Do you need to consider refrigerated transportation?