If you're a planning a business move, whether it's because of a downsize, cheaper real estate, an expansion or to be located closer to customers, it's important to ensure that employees are taken into consideration, kept informed and feel part of the move.
Most companies make the decision to move because it's best for their bottom line; this is what companies must do to ensure their viability. However, it doesn't mean that employee needs shouldn't be considered.
Let employees know where the new office will be located
Also let employees know what kind of changes to their daily commute this might entail. Use your employee database to assess which employees might be commuting further or for those individuals who commute by transit, if transit is still accessible to the new location.
Help out your employees with the move
If there are issues, bring these forward to the affected employees to let them know their options, whether that's helping out with transit fees or parking space. Even if you can't offer any incentives, provide employees with the information far in advance of the move to allow them to decide if they should pursue other employment options that have a shorter commute.
Offer some options to help people adjust
If possible, allow those employees affected by the move, to have a more flexible schedule. Perhaps they can come in earlier or later, depending on the traffic flow and what might work best for the new commute.
Let them know about parking and other changes
Let employees know if there will be a change in parking space and if they'll have parking paid. Ask employees ahead of time what they require so you can try to provide enough parking for everyone who requires it. If this isn't possible, let them know if there are other options and what you're willing to do to assist them in coping with the change to their commute.
Keep communicating throughout the move
Communicating with employees on a regular basis about the move is key to keep them in the loop and to ensure that hear-say is kept to a minimum. Also, provide the opportunity for employees to ask you questions about the move - the communication should go two ways.
As soon as you can, let employees know about the move. You should try to give them enough time to ensure that the new location will work for them, so they can get used to the idea of moving and make the right decisions for themselves. Also, provide a time line of how the move will proceed, what their role will be and what you expect from them.
Get employees involved
Once you know where the company is moving to, what the new space will look like and a time frame established, it's a good idea to have employees get more involved in the move, more than simply packing up their office space.
Ask staff their opinion
Ask staff about how the new office space will work, how things could be set up for efficiency, staff enjoyment and overall working environment. The more staff become involved in the decision-making process, the greater the input and team support. This is essential to keeping morale high during what can often be a difficult time.
Use the opportunity to improve working conditions
Find out if there are things about the current (old) office that didn't work and that might be improved in the new space. Perhaps this might be the set-up of the photocopier room or the location of the staff lounge or the lack of desk space in each office. Employees are the best consultants when it comes to improving work flow and environment.
Create an information package about the new neighborhood
If your company has been located in one place for a while, employees will have their favorite eating spots, coffee shops and business-related services nearby. To help with the transition, create a list of local businesses that are in the new neighborhood, including restaurants, cafes, gyms, day care centers, dry cleaners and grocery stores.
If you're a small business owner, you might consider taking an afternoon off to visit the new area with your employees.
Let them see the new space and spend some time in the area. Again, this will ease the transition.