There are many many factors that go into maintaining a successful business, but one thing is certain. If you get the workspace right, you’ve greatly increased your odds of building and maintaining employee morale. It’s much easier for employees to justify all the time they spend at the office when the office doesn’t make them wish they were somewhere else.
But what happens when you’ve done all the work of making your office a business utopia and growth or other factors require an office move? How can you maintain employee happiness when you have to uproot them and create a whole new office environment somewhere else?
Here are some things to consider when moving your employees to a new business home:
Look at it as an opportunity
Before even beginning to address specific needs and employee preferences and best practices, the first thing to examine when facing an office move is your attitude. It’s easy to look at an office move as a problem to be disposed of rather than an opportunity to be embraced, but the fact is, no matter how idyllic your current space may be, there’s always room for improvement. Whether it’s having enough space for an employee fitness room or getting a foosball table into that break room, some things just aren’t possible with the space you’ve got. Instead of just sticking with the status quo, look at this move as your chance to make a change for the better.
Communication is something that’s going to happen whether you’re driving the train or not. If you don’t provide full and transparent communication about progress and expectations, that information vacuum will inevitably be filled with rumors, and that’s a great way to end up with disgruntled employees.
Talk to them. Keep them up to date on progress and timelines and floorplans. Give them ample opportunity to ask questions. But don’t just tell them what is happening. Tell them why. Why did you choose this location? What’s your overall strategy for managing the move and building the new space? Why these amenities? Why not these?
Simple communication is the best way to help your employees see change as something they’re participating in as opposed to something that’s being done to them.
But don’t just talk
Listen to them as well. The office is where your employees spend a huge percentage of their lives. Nothing sows discord more quickly than making them feel like they have no control over a space that they’re required to come to every morning.
Solicit their input. Ask for suggestions. Let them tell you what they need.
Not only will it give them a comforting sense of control, but it could keep you from investing big money in features or amenities that no one cares about in the first place.
Let them tinker
When it comes time to finally move in, don’t miss the opportunity to let your employees make the space their own. Let them add those little touches that give them ownership. Plants, photos, nick-nacks, artwork, it all makes the office feel a little more like home.
Comfortable workers are happy workers. And happy workers are productive workers
Explore the terrain
Few things can be more disorienting and frustrating than being unceremoniously dropped into a new location with no information about the lay of the land. If your new office is significantly removed in location from the old office, you’ll need to devote time and resources toward easing the transition for your employees.
Who will have longer commutes? What will the scheduling and economic consequences of that commute be? You might need to explore more flexible hours or the option to work from home. Where are the local restaurants? Drugstores? Dry cleaners? You might work with local businesses to put together an employee welcome package that provides discounts and other special offers.
The more effort you put into acclimating your employees to their new surroundings and dealing with the consequences of their move, the easier their transition will be.
Give them time
People get set in their ways. We get comfortable in our routines, and in general, we don’t welcome significant changes to the way we like to get work done. Even if you do everything else right, from communicating to listening to accommodating, it’s going to take people time to settle in. Some people more than others.
Before you make your move, remind yourself that there will most likely be a short-term hit on productivity. There will be complaints to field as unforeseen problems come to light. Check in with your employees. Listen to their concerns. Most importantly, give them time to adjust. You’ll all be happier once the dust has settled.
The modern workplace is changing fast...
Are you keeping up?