How do you communicate with employees about an office move?
Employees play a large role in successful office moves for three main reasons. First, they often pack all or some of their own equipment and files. Second, their perspective about the process is a factor in it happening efficiently. And last, both of these have an impact on how much downtime or lost productivity your business experiences as a result of office moves. Careful communication is the best way to ensure employees are on board.
Build a team
Communication planning is a team sport. You’ll want to include leaders from your lines of business and functional representatives (IT, HR, Facilities, Finance). Make sure to consider trusted and well-respected employees as team members who can give insight into what employees might be thinking.
What’s the message?
Make sure to think of the situation from your employees’ perspectives and address their fears, challenges and concerns in a positive way. You don’t need to spend too much time spelling out the business case and reasons for the move, just hit the highlights. Employees often have a wide range of possible questions.
- Why are we moving? I like it here.
- We’re moving to a smaller space. Does this mean there will be layoffs?
- How will this affect my commute and parking?
- Are we keeping our furniture?
- Will I still be near a window?
- Where are the coffee and lunch spots in the new place?
- Will my security badge work in the new place?
- When is this all going to happen? Do I have to cancel my vacation?
- I have to purge and pack up my things, how am I going to get it all done?
As you craft key messages, being frank and genuine should be the overarching guideline. Employees are more wary of “corporate speak” than you might think, and will appreciate honesty.
Delivering the message
Once you’ve identified key messages, the next step is figuring out the right way to communicate them. Do you mostly share company news via email? Is there a corporate intranet employees visit frequently? Do you have more of a face-to-face workplace culture? Do you normally post information in break rooms or other common areas? Do you have periodic “brown bag” lunch meetings, department meetings, or use town-hall-type formats to communicate?
If there are distinct roles within your workforce (e.g., a mix of office workers and warehouse or field employees) make sure you tailor communication. Don’t rely on emails for employees who aren’t regularly in front of a computer as part of their jobs, for example. In general, the best approach is:
Use multiple tactics (e.g., emails reinforced by posted signs and face-to-face meetings)
Heavily train your managers on the details of the move, so they can inform their direct reports and answer questions
Start communicating early. Don’t wait so long that employees find out about the move from another source.
Reinforcing the message
Make sure your strategy calls for ongoing communication vs. a “one and done” approach. Not only can you send out periodic (but not too frequent) updates and reminders, but also consider housing all of the announcements, FAQs and updates in one place so employees can review them at their convenience. If you need to convey urgent information, sandwich it between things you know employees are interested in.
Don’t worry if you’re not an expert in office move communication – it’s a specialized process. As long as you communicate early, repeatedly communicate over time, train your managers, and are frank and open with employees by addressing their real concerns, you’ll have a good start. You may even find employees naturally rising to the occasion to offer additional help.
Planning and employee communication are an essential part of the approach Suddath® takes to every commercial move. Feel free to contact us and talk through the details of your move and how we can help.