If you’re embarking on an office move, you’ll no doubt be aware that there are a million and one things to worry about. One of the things to keep in mind is your staff! They’re your greatest asset and their ideas and concerns shouldn’t be ignored. Follow these four steps to keeping everyone happy during what might be one of your organisation’s most stressful times.
Communication is key
Change can be unsettling for many people, and some staff might be a little resistant to the move. Try to inform your staff as soon as possible and keep them up to date throughout the process. It’s a good idea to let them know what the motivation is for moving and sell the benefits to them early on. Getting your employees’ buy-in will mean a much smoother transition for everyone. It will also stop the rumour mill from churning – something that’s difficult to avoid in many workplaces. You need to keep the mood positive whatever the reason for the move. Staff might have concerns over the commute or the new desk plan so try to pre-empt and address these sorts of issues head on. Take a look at your workforce and what the move might mean to them personally – it might be necessary to offer some incentives when it comes to commuting or parking costs. After all, the move isn’t their choice, and you’ll want to hang onto them!
Get them involved
Don’t just stop at keeping them informed, get them involved! An office move is not a task to be undertaken lightly and there will be lots of room for extra pairs of hands, whether it’s checking contracts with a fine-tooth comb or doing some of the donkeywork on move day. It’s a good idea to set up a “move team”, ideally with staff from different departments so that input is varied. If you’ve been following the same processes for years, now’s the time to look at things with fresh eyes, and maybe the newer or younger members of staff might be ideal for involving in brainstorming sessions. Have a weekly meeting to catch up on the plans so that your team is fully involved. Encourage other staff members to liaise with the move team champions with their ideas and any feedback.
Embrace the new location
While the benefits the new location will bring to the business itself are the most important factor for you as the business owner, staff are more likely to want to know which cafe makes the best coffee or where they can get the cheapest jacket potato with Chicken Washington. If you’re moving to a new location, it’s a good idea to scope out the area in advance and check out where the staff will be able to go on their lunch break or for a drink after work. To some staff, it might be important to know what childcare or gym facilities there are nearby or where the nearest supermarket or dry-cleaners is. Once you’ve checked out the new area for yourself, why not put together an information pack for staff detailing what’s available in the local area, including parking facilities and transport links. Or go one step further and organise a staff trip to the new site during work time. Let them explore the area and get them on board to really ease the transition process. If you really want to push the boat out, arrange a celebratory staff get-together for after the move in a local bar or restaurant, or perhaps a family picnic in a nearby park with games and prizes. Help your staff love your new location and they’ll love coming to work.
Address training needs
There’s a good chance your move will involve updating some of your equipment, be it role related, IT equipment or telephony. If that’s the case then don’t underestimate the training that might be required. If staff feel they’ve been thrown in at the deep end you’re going to have a bit of resistance. Arrange for professionals to come in and provide training for staff, whether it’s for all staff or on a “train the trainer” basis whereby a select few users are trained, with them imparting their knowledge to the rest of the staff when they’re comfortable with it. Make sure you time the training just right. The day of the move is never a good time for staff to listen to somebody trying to show them new processes – there’s far too much going on with people getting their desks set up and the general excitement of the move. Sometimes it makes sense to set up a training session in advance, and this might be done online or with demonstration equipment. Alternatively, ensure you have some cheat-sheets and simple user guides for day one, and ask the professional trainer to come in on the second or third day.
So if you’re planning an office move, don’t keep your staff in the dark. Sell the benefits to them and help them embrace the change.