You’ve acquired a beautiful new office space. Spacious new meeting rooms. New updated furniture. There’s just one problem: No one wants to move.
It makes sense. Your employees have spent large parts of their lives at your current location. Change is always difficult and moving even more so. Luckily, you can smooth the transition for them (and for yourself) by following these tips:
Communicate With Your Employees—Before, During, and After the Move.
Before the move:
- Brand your change. When crafting your communication, remember to tell your employees not just what’s happening, but why it’s happening. You are building a better environment for them and for your clients. Let them in on your decision-making and the anticipated results, and make sure they know that it’s their work that has made your company’s success possible.
- Use all communication channels. Utilize email, internal newsletters, signage, videos, and in-office meetings. If you have a company intranet, even better: You can create and easily update files, keeping all information in one easy-to-find place. If you don’t have an intranet, consider creating a common folder everyone can access.
- Communicate frequently. Keep employees up-to-date. Give them floor plans of the building, links to check out new technology, and information about parking and commuting. Create a communications calendar that includes key announcements, timelines, advance notice of office closures, and packing instructions (these should include information on how to pack and label boxes and where to find moving supplies).
- Anticipate questions. Generate a list of probable FAQs and answer them up front. Consider the “small” questions regarding things like the amenities, the new neighborhood, and the space in general, but don’t forget to include answers to big questions regarding your strategies and decision-making.
- Reach out to IT. A beautiful new space won’t mean anything if your technology doesn’t work. Bring your IT team on board early, in the design phase if possible. Ask them about the placement and design of the server room; where plugs and outlets should be located throughout the building; what kind of furniture will best support the technology, etc. When planning for the actual move, ask their advice about coordinating with vendors, testing new equipment, and breaking down and/or disposing of old equipment.
During the move:
- Distribute welcome packets to all employees and include a digital version in your shared “New Office Space” folder.” The packet should include a detailed map that shows everything from where departments are located to where to find the coffee; instructions on how to use new equipment like phones and printers (with links to tutorials if possible); and information about how to book or utilize spaces (e.g. “Employee gym hours are from 7-7” or “to book a conference room, contact John Smith”).
- Set up a moving-day command center. Staff a table with a person who can answer employees’ questions about their new environment. If possible, include someone from your IT team or a vendor representative. Keep the “move center” available to employees for the first few days after move-in.
- Establish employee focus groups and/or provide an opportunity for feedback sessions. Find out how people are settling in: Are there issues with any spaces or technologies? Follow up on problems as quickly as possible, even if it’s just to make a plan to address them.
- Be flexible when considering requests. If your new work environment is radically different from your old one (i.e. an open-plan layout instead of conventional offices), some of your employees may need help to work effectively in the new space. Consider allowing headphone, quiet rooms, and/or flexible scheduling to accommodate different employee needs.
Engage Employees, Too
- Find influencers. Some employees will be excited about the move. Help them to get others on board by providing them with information, ideas, and inspiration regarding your new space. Let other employees know they can go to them about issues or questions related to the move.
- Give employees a sense of ownership. Engage employees from the beginning if you can. Show them the beautiful finishing details. Allow them to vote on amenities. Consider holding a contest to name the new break room or cafeteria.
- Create a new neighborhood information package. Let employees know where they can eat lunch, take their children to daycare, and shop for groceries on the way home. Consider giving employees an afternoon off to explore the neighborhood.
- Schedule walk-throughs. Offer guided tours and show off the office’s new features.
- Put together moving instructions. Need things moved a specific way? Don’t be scared to give exact instructions for sensitive materials and equipment!
Plan Your Move Down to the Smallest Detail
- Create signage. Put up posters that identify different departments and spaces. Provide directional signage, too, especially to common-use or hard-to-find areas. Consider making cheat sheets for rooms that include information like where to find supplies, or if furniture is movable.
- Train employees on new technology and processes. Provide online and in-person training. Go beyond “how-to” sessions, letting employees know how the new amenities, processes, and technology will support them in their work. Make sure to include links to tutorials.
- Develop a labeling system. Ask employees to label boxes and any furniture or technology to be moved according to department, floor, etc. Also consider numbering boxes, e.g. “1 of 8.”
- Don’t approximate when it comes to space planning. A few inches here or there doesn’t seem like a big deal until someone’s workstation doesn’t fit in the new office. Find exact measurements for furniture and any extra equipment a department may need, like a printer or coffee station. Also, measure all furniture to make sure it fits in the elevator.
- Consider the hours your employees need to make the move. If a department has a big project due the week of the move, those employees may not have time to help pack. Evaluate responsibilities and make time arrangements to ensure business isn’t neglected.
A move is never easy. Celebrate your success—and especially that of your employees—with some sort of party. It can be as simple as good pastries and coffee from a neighborhood bakery, or as elaborate as an after-dark blowout with music and cocktails in your beautiful new conference room. Celebrating your new space not only tells your employees you appreciate their patience and hard work during the move, it sets a positive tone going forward.
Got a Hot Tip?
Have you moved offices in the past and have a tip for successfully relocated your office and employees? Submit your tip here and we will feature your tip for the world to see on our blog and social media accounts!
Rebecca Tracey from TheUncagedLife.com –
Skip the office and run your business from anywhere online. True Uncaged style 🙂
Yoon Cannon at ParamountBusinessCoach.com –
Update your job descriptions. Moving into a bigger space is an exciting time for the company, but it can be a very stressful time for your team since added responsibilities often come with expansion. You want to be careful that the additional workload will not exhaust and exceed the bandwidth of your employees. Your senior management team should review and revise everyone’s job descriptions.
Be very specific what is within the scope of each person’s job and what is not. Consider adding new roles as needed. Then be sure to meet with each team member to discuss and review their updated written job description. This is also the perfect time to present new advancement opportunities that this expansion project will open. Taking the time to set clear expectations and identify new opportunities during a company move will help you avoid costly mistakes that often lead to high turnover.