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How to ensure a smooth office relocation

April 2017

Part Three | You’ve met the colourful characters from Best Bank In the World in part one and part two. They’re all still in-post following their ‘borientation’ back in March and are now facing the challenge of relocating

Best Bank in the World Incorporated is moving its headquarters from London to a small rural town, where the dining highlights include two fast food chains and a 1950’s coffee shop. The management team has said it will be ‘a refreshing change’. The space will be larger, the air will be cleaner and after all, it’s only an hour’s drive from capital!*

*without traffic

But the employees aren’t quite so sure.

Ashley isn’t happy about the lack of nightlife in the local area, but at least the office is close to his mum’s house. He plans to stop off for breakfast on the way so she can make him bacon sandwiches in little triangles.

Tamsin is absolutely distraught- the old office was two minutes’ walk from her favourite boutique, and she’s fairly sure there’s no decent sushi bars in rural England.

The office relocation will make Derek’s commute three times as long and he’s feeling stressed. If he doesn’t get back by 6pm to feed the cat it starts scratching the armchair and his wife tells him off.

Angela has been lining up three online dates a week in London and is worried the men in the new town won’t be of the same calibre. Sure, she’s 49 and single, but that’s no reason to give up on the idea of a rich husband with a bolthole in Monaco.

Whilst the management team is convinced it’ll be a great opportunity for Best Bank in the World Inc., they’ve got a lot of work to do if they’re going to convince their staff of the same! We explore the key areas that companies should consider when planning their relocation in order to make the process run smoothly…

Supporting staff

A recent report shows that 85% of staff want flexible working options, so if this isn’t already ingrained in your company culture, now’s the time to start. Whether it’s coming to the office at different times to avoid traffic, or giving people projects to complete at home, flexible options will be a huge incentive for people facing longer commutes. Moving to a new area, especially one that’s less high-profile, can save your company money and ensure you get more space. But you need to listen to the concerns of your employees and find solutions. (Nobody wants to be responsible for Derek’s cat destroying the furniture.)

Engaging staff with the relocation

An office move can feel like a huge change for employees. By engaging people with the process, your staff will feel at home more quickly in their surroundings. You can gamify this process with a series of app-based challenges, which encourage employees to explore the new area and office environment. As well as making the transition easier, these activities can double as a teambuilding game – boosting engagement between colleagues. And just think, once he knows every corner of the new town, Ashley will be more than happy to organise socials and activities in the pubs and bars he’s discovered.

Offer new incentives and benefits

If you’re taking people out of their comfort zone, they’ll need to be incentivised. (Especially if the new postcode is significantly less glam.) Consider rolling out a creative new benefits and incentive programme in line with the move, to make staff feel valued and appreciated. From relocation allowances to volunteering days and bunk-offs for special occasions, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that employees will feel more engaged with the brand if they feel looked after. Tamsin might not be able to spend her lunch hour shopping for shoes, but at least she can spend her (fourteenth) 21st birthday sipping cocktails instead of arguing with Derek over the marketing budget.

Recreate an enhanced office culture

You’ve probably spent several years building up brand culture in your current offices. If there’s a relocation on the cards, you can’t expect that culture to magically transport itself to your new environment. Reflecting your brand values is important, but it’s also worth asking your staff what they’d like to see from their new offices. From creative board rooms to fun incentives like an onsite bar or games room, the object is to keep employees engaged. If there’s room, you could even introduce lunchtime yoga and aerobics sessions. (Just don’t forget to send round an ‘appropriate gym wear’ memo for Angela.)

Read part one and part two again…

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