Moving a business can be an exciting yet stressful time. To ensure a smooth transition, get employee buy-in for the process, make detailed plans and timetables and anticipate some degree of delays and business slowdown.
Communicate About the Move
Give employees advance notice about the move and what it will mean for the company, clients and suppliers, as well as for the staff and their families. A long-distance relocation can have a big impact on employees, especially if they have to change their commutes or alter their childcare routines or household schedules. Provide a timetable for the move that includes key dates, such as when clients will be notified, when personal materials should be packed and when the physical move will take place.
Involve employees in the move by creating staff committees or department liaisons that will be responsible for organizing various aspects of the move. Allow staffers to ask questions, voice concerns and make suggestions about ways to minimize downtime or interruption of work routines and business functions. Make the relocation feel like an adventure rather than a stressor by emphasizing positive aspects, like more space for everyone or an opportunity to have input about office layout and design.
Develop an Organizational System
Encourage employees to use the move as an opportunity to clean out their cubicles or offices, cull files and get better organized. Coordinate the move by assigning departments with color codes and employees with identification numbers to use in packing and labeling office equipment, furniture, supplies, files and other items to be moved. Insist that personal items like photos, awards and office décor be packed and transported by employees in advance of the office move to ensure safety.
Ensure IT Transition
While some downtime is to be expected during an office relocation, make every effort to have office equipment and IT in place and operational on the first day in the new office. This will allow staffers to stay in touch with clients and other stakeholders, access email and feel connected as they get settled into new space. Prepare for potential disruptions during the move by pushing back key deadlines or extending project timetables to reduce stress on employees. Post a notice on your website and on your office voicemail recording that lets customers know you’re in a transition phase so you can maintain high customer service levels.
If you’re relocating your offices a significant distance, some staffers may be faced with the choice between moving their personal households or finding a new job. If this is the case, provide as much advance notice about the move as possible and help employees with whatever decision they make. For example, for staffers willing to make the move, provide referrals to real estate professionals who specialize in business relocations. If a staffer can’t make the move, make recommendations for new positions by calling in favors from colleagues.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.