4 ways to help staff deal with an office move

22nd March, 2017

Moving offices can be stressful for your staff for a whole host of reasons – from the practical to psychological.

Getting things right logistically is crucial – after all, you don’t want your workers to end up hot-desking at a nearby Macca’s.

But getting your employees psychologically ready is another kettle of fish.

HR expert Eve Ash told The Pulse that while there were several things you can do to make the transition easier, the key was open and honest communication with your staff.

Get in early

To get your employees ready for a move, let them know what’s happening as early as possible.

“Too much notice isn’t needed, but you don’t want it to be so short that people will be shocked,” said Ash.

“Share with them details like what the office layout will be like, and point out the changes early.

“If it’s going to affect people’s travel and lives, that’s an important consideration. In that case, you need a longer time span.”

She also said that if you have employees that are used to hot-desking and are adaptable, then it will be easier for them to adjust.

Regardless, it’s important to give your employees as much information about the new space as possible. Tell them as much as you can – from floorplans to where the electrical outlets are going to be.

Empower people to ask questions

If you want the transition to be as seamless as possible, Ash says allowing people to feel like they’re ‘owning’ the move is crucial.

“I’ve been involved in organisations where they know the lease is running out within a certain number of months, or they know the building is going to be re-furbished. It’s nice when staff can engage with planning the new space and are given the chance to offer an opinion.

“If staff can offer opinions on the tea room, for example, that can help them really own the move.”

If they feel they own the move, then they’re much more likely to feel good or at least neutral about the move.

It’s also important to create an environment where they can give feedback.

“Employees need to be encouraged to ask questions – even about details like what the new furniture is going to be like,” said Ash.

“There could be things that you as an employer may not have taken into consideration, but by encouraging people to ask questions you will get that feedback.”

Let people vent if they need to

Part of an honest conversation with your employees is giving them a chance to vent any frustration they feel.

“Whatever the key differences are between the old office and the new, paint that picture so people start seeing and knowing that,” said Ash.

“Also, it gives them an opportunity to vent if there are issues that annoy them.

“Let them vent and share what those problems are, so by the time they’re moving they’re focused on the advantages of the move and how it’s going to be.”

It’s about getting it all out of their system.

“Just talking through and sharing the benefits and the problems can be a real positive,” said Ash.

“It’s group therapy in a way. The better you communicate, the better the result.”

Frame it as an opportunity to declutter

Have you meant to get around to decluttering your office or desk but just haven’t gotten the opportunity to do so?

Needing to pack it all up and move is a great way to focus employees on what they actually need.

“Try to be systematic and offer people the opportunity to clear up their belongings, to really review what they have,” said Ash.

When people know that they’ll need to put everything into a box, they’ll start thinking about what they do and don’t need.

“When you start by stripping back, you can see how that feels. Maybe you won’t have a drawer of your stuff right next to you – maybe you’ll need to fit your stuff in a little tray,” said Ash.

“It’s just working with less, a chance to clean up and work with what’s available. That’s a psychological state of de-clutter.”