Elissa Dennis, Marketing & PR Consultant, Out Of The Many kindly shares some of her advice and top tips on implementing an office move, and effectively communicating with your employees.
People react to an office move and change in many different ways. Some embrace it wholeheartedly and can’t wait for the challenge, keen to experience something different, energised by the unknown. Others will go with the flow, recognise that it’s a regular part of life and be content to adapt to new surroundings without making a fuss. While some will actively fear it, and face it with real trepidation. They find comfort in the familiar and the thought of change fills them with a sense of dread and enormous unease.
These are just three examples of how people react. There are many others too, but change for most brings an emotional reaction. To make sure your move is a success, you want to ensure that emotion is a positive one, that enhances their experience as an employee and builds unity and creativity.
So how do you go about making sure everyone is on board? An effective change manager is like a conductor of an orchestra. They are at the front, showing the way, but also taking notice of every one individually. They help each musician to know their role and where they fit into the overall piece of music.
Here are six key elements that should be included in your office move communication plan:
Have a clear vision
It’s really important to clearly state all the details behind the move so that employees understand the reasons behind it and have a definite timeframe in their minds. It’s surprising how often the basics get lost. Never forget to include the simple facts – Why are you moving? When is the move? What are staff required to do? Display details of the move and pictures of the new office, so it is there for all to see. Invite as many of your team as is feasible to visit the new site and see it for themselves. By involving them in the process they can help their colleagues through the change.
Keep up a regular dialogue
Office moves rarely go exactly to plan. There are often last-minute hitches or alterations needed to take account of some unforeseen circumstance. At these moments, it’s really important to keep talking to your employees, even if the news isn’t good. It is far better to include them in what’s going on rather than say nothing. Silence will just leave a vacuum which will be filled with rumours or speculation, which can be very damaging to morale and overall productivity. Your employees will appreciate your honesty and feel much more invested in the process if you provide regular updates.
Listen to your employees
While talking is crucial, listening to your employees is just as important. The organisations that have the best internal communications initiatives, don’t just send out a stream of messages, they actively invite feedback and participation from their employees to create a dialogue. Listening to their ideas and concerns will help you understand your staff better and help ensure the move is a success. While it is very unlikely that you’ll be able to accommodate all of their desires, taking the ones on board that are possible, will help your employees have a more positive attitude towards the move and make them feel more invested in the project.
An office move is like a blank canvas. You get the opportunity to start again and think about new ways of working, how to incorporate new technology and how to build a more creative, collaborative environment. Some of your employees will have amazing ideas about the new environment you’re trying to create. Establishing an ongoing dialogue will encourage your staff to bring these ideas forward and you’ll have the opportunity to assess which ones might work for you and your business.
Learn from others
You will be far from the first company to ever experience an office move, so take some time to find out how it went from others. By doing some research, you’ll discover where the potential pitfalls are and how to avoid them. You can also find out what worked well, so you can adapt that to your own business and circumstances. Sharing this with your employees will show them you’ve not rushed into anything, but have taken the time, care and attention to make the move a success.
Review once you’re in
The move isn’t over once the boxes arrive in the new office. It will take a few weeks to settle in and ensure your employees are happy with their new working space. It’s a good idea to continue the dialogue you’ve established during the planning process, to ensure you get the most benefit out of the change. The move is a great opportunity to energise and reinvigorate your employees, but this can be lost if you fail to follow up. Take the time to find out what they like and what they would improve, so you can make necessary adjustments and capitalise on this fresh start.
The key to a successful office move is to ensure you bring not just the fixtures and fittings with you, but your employees too, in spirit, as well as body. To achieve this everyone needs to see the full score, feel part of the team and have a desire to work in harmony. Appointing a conductor to lead, talk and listen is an essential part of that process.
Elissa Dennis, Marketing & PR Consultant, Out Of The Many – marketing and communications support designed to drive businesses forward.