A successful office move does not happen by chance. It takes lots of detailed planning, coupled with an effective communication strategy to pull it off. Why? Simply because office relocation involves more than just logistics planning or hiring an office mover; not every staff is eager to move and if staff morale is not managed well, resignation numbers can be higher than expected.
By that we mean to scout for the new location, decide on the office space consultants to engage, the size of the space required and the concept and workflow of the new office. These are important because they will eventually form part of the communication plan to promote the move to your employees in a positive manner.
And unless the move is already an open secret (e.g. everyone is expecting it because the current office lease is expiring), it is best to keep it confidential till you are ready to communicate. The last thing you want is for the office grapevine to take over because some employee(s) mysteriously got wind of the move. When that happens, you risk losing control of your communication strategy as half-truths may spread, stirring emotions negatively along the way.
Craft out a Communication Strategy
As you build your relocation plans with your management team, simultaneously work on your communication strategy. Do not worry if the details of your relocation plan changes at this stage; simply treat your communication strategy as an initial draft and expect changes. By crafting your communication strategy as your relocation plan evolves, you get the benefit of becoming more aware of how your moving plans will affect your communication and perhaps even drop plans that are not feasible.
While building your communication strategy, ask yourself two important questions:
- Why would your employees want to move?
- Why would they resist the move?
From there, brainstorm ideas on how to draw out the benefits of the new office location while addressing the expected concerns of the staff.
When to Communicate?
Communication should at least be in 3 phases, namely the initial announcement of the move, an interim update, and the final details. If required more than one interim update is fine as well.
The Initial Announcement
During the initial announcement, you will need to have at least the following communication pointers ready – when the move is expected to take place, where the new office location is and why the new office set up and location is great. These details are to provide an amount of certainty to the employees so as not to fuel any speculation or grapevine talk.
If the space consultants for the new office have already been appointed, this can also be announced at this stage. It will be good as well to show the portfolio of the appointed consultants so that staff can have an idea what the new office will look like. If they have some initial 3D drawings of the new office, this is also a good time to show them.
Get Inputs from Department Head and a Sampling of Staff
Once the initial announcement is made, it is time to go about getting staff input. Get the various departments to submit their space, equipment and storage requirements and have your facility manager together with your space consultants go through these requirements with the respective department heads. Thereafter, talk to a sampling of staff as well to understand their needs and see how they can be catered for.
From these discussions work out what is necessary to provide, what are some luxuries you can afford and what is totally unnecessary. Department heads do at times ask for more than is necessary thinking that whatever they request will be cut down anyway.
As the project progresses, it is good to give all staff an interim update. These should include decisions already finalized since initial announcements as well as decisions made after input from department heads and staff is taken into consideration.
If done well, this will give your staff confidence that their needs are taken seriously.
Other than the mundane job of packing up for the move, there are many areas where you can involve your employees. For example, a task force can be set up to champion the move, organize fun and friendly contest for staff and encourage participation. A possible contest idea is to get staff to write about attractions or amenities found near the new office location.
A budget should also be set aside for department heads to have occasion lunches with their staff, both before and after the move to further boost team morale.
Final Details Announcements
Once all plans are firmed up, an announcement of the finalized details should be made. At this meeting, the final 3Ds of the new office can be shown (if it is not already shown during the interim update). If the move has been managed well till now, there should be no major surprises at this stage.
As with all plans, contingencies measures should be thought out in case things do not go as planned. An important contingency is to plan for hiring of new staff because no matter how well the move was managed, some staff will resign for various reasons.
Hence, it is important to get department heads to provide the expected, best case and worse case scenarios of expected resignations and get your HR prepared for the rehiring exercise.
Do Share Your Thoughts
Have you been involved in an office move before? If so, why not share your thoughts by commenting below.