In my day job, I work in communications, mostly for non-profit organizations. Part of the work that I do involves ensuring that we have a strategy in place for both internal and external communications. This also includes developing a plan for an office move, which my current organization is planning to do in the next six months.
While you may think that there are so many steps to planning in an office move that you don't have time to even consider communications, you really need to take a day or two to create a firm strategy that will keep both employees and clients aware of the upcoming changes.
Let's start with employees since they're directly affected by the move.
Internal Communications Should Include These Key Messages:
- A clear timeline: make sure you list all the key steps of the move so everyone knows what to expect and when.
- Packing instructions: provide staff with instructions on how to pack their offices or cubicles for the move. This should include where to get packing materials, what they're responsible for packing and deadlines.
- Advanced notice of any office closures: during the move, you may need to close the office to enable the final packing and moving of office equipment and furniture. Make sure your staff is aware of these dates and if and how the business will continue during the move and how this will affect their work schedule and workload.
- New office plan: Staff will want to know early on what the new space will look like and how the offices will be set up. Will they still have their own space or will they now be in a cubicle or open floor plan? Make sure you create a way to inform staff of how their work space might change.
- The new location, parking and commute options: Provide staff with all the information they need about the new location so that they can prepare transportation to the new space.
Once you've determined all the key messages, you need to determine how best to deliver these messages. The method you use should be decided by the type of message. For instance, the timeline could easily be delivered via your company intranet; whereas, office closures may be best presented at a staff meeting to ensure questions can be asked and answered.
Ways to Communicate Objectives to Staff:
- Intranet: for those companies or organizations that have an intranet, this is usually the best platform for most messages. It enables easy updates to files and information that reaches all employees.
- In-person meetings: no matter what the message, staff meetings are a good place to make announcements and allow staff the chance to have a complete discussion. You can also use meeting time to review how information will be communicated so staff knows they'll be kept informed.
- Email: while email is easy, it's not the best way to relay information. You don't want to send out so many emails that people can't find the information when they need it. If you do use email, make sure you only use it to let people know where they can obtain the information.
- Common folders: If you don't have an intranet, then creating a common folder on a network drive that everyone can access is the next best way to store information that you want people to access.
- Bulletin board: a physical space where information is posted, is a great thing to do. Not only can people check it often, it also provides a place where people can gather and discuss their concerns.