Are you moving offices? Or have you recently moved offices? In Malmesbury, Wiltshire, successful firm Dyson, have recently announced they are expanding once more to include 45,000sqm of new development space to house around 2,000 employees.

Moving offices, like moving to a new house, is an exciting but also stressful process. It’s important to get the technical, practical and financial elements in place but also vital to consider the move on a personal level, from your employees’ perspective. This blog aims to provide some guidance on moving offices from an HR viewpoint, and ultimately keeping individuals stress levels low and employees happy.

The reason for an office move will vary from business to business, perhaps there’s a need for additional space, a lease is up or relocation of a business – the reasons are many, but all will involve your employees and they require careful consideration.

In October 2017, Bristol firm, Sunlife, relocated to new Bristol offices, not far from their previous location. We spoke to Matt Whale, Marketing Manager at Sunlife who said: “the layout of the office is completely different to before, we now have a hot desk system in place, we are a paperless office and we were all trained to use a barista coffee machine!  There is an impressive tree in the middle of the building which makes it an inviting and inspiring place to work in.”

This is an example of the positive effect change can have on employees, improving staff loyalty, productivity and motivation levels. Not all office moves will offer such a change, but it’s a great opportunity to think about your current working cultures and practices. Bringing in more greenery can provide a more relaxing and comforting environment. Consider floor layout – are offices still essential or would open plan be more beneficial? Changes to recycling and storage systems – can existing procedures be improved?   Gloucester based company Planterama Design Ltd have inhouse horticultural and design experts that can help you achieve the ‘wow’ factor through inspiring living wall displays .

The “Do’s” to conducting a successful office move:

  • Announcing the Move to Staff – to avoid any unnecessary rumours and negative vibes, inform your staff of the move, the reasons for the move and proposed time scales as soon as possible. How you communicate the news will vary depending on the business setup. Ideally a face-to-face firmwide meeting, however that isn’t always possible. Ensure the communication is succinct, clear and let your staff know you’ve researched the move thoroughly and have considered the basics such as commute times, parking and local amenities.
  • Frequent Communication – once the initial announcement is made, continue the communication lines, when timescales change (they invariably do), inform your staff. When layout plans change, or storage solutions are changed – continue to communicate these items to your employees. It’s easy as business owners to dismiss that sort of information as valuable, but to your employee – who may be feeling anxious and resistant to the change, knowing the small stuff will really help.
  • Ask for Feedback – provide an opportunity for employees to offer their suggestions and feedback on the move, discovering any employee concerns early on will allow more time to smooth any issues out and reduce feelings of loss and low morale. Where possible, try and make the team feel included and consider their suggestions, make the move a team effort.
  • Instruct a Change Management Agent – this may not be a feasible option for all businesses, but if funds allow, consider instructing an expert to support the process and help manage the change. It will offer an outlet for staff to talk to and openly express any concerns. We are more than happy to help with this process.
  • Don’t Forget the Legal Stuff – the contract of employment ‘Location of Work’ clause may need to be updated, and if some are travelling further to work as a result of the move, they may require a ‘carrot’ to avoid a dispute.

Overall, an office move should be a positive experience and open up new and inspiring opportunities; planning, research and communication are key.  We’d love to hear from you if you have experience of moving offices, or if you would like support please do get in touch: CitrusHR Consulting, call us on 0844 854 6704 or email us at info@citrushrconsulting.com