Whether you’re planning an office relocation due to expansion, local amenities or rent, it’s vital that you consider the impact this will have on one of your greatest assets – your workforce. The stages listed below will help you ensure they are all onboard and fully supportive when your business needs to move.
A 2016 report published by Property Wire states commercial property vacancy rate levels in central London are at a 14-year low. This has pushed up rent and means businesses are increasingly considering an office relocation into emerging areas of the city. In addition, according to a 2015 article in The Telegraph, major relocations by companies like Amazon, Omnicom and Estee Lauder within the city of London are having a knock-on effect on all types of businesses. Download our free Guide to Office Rents in London from this page.
There is no right or wrong time to tell employees about an office relocation and this will be different for every business. You may want to keep your relocation project under wraps until you are certain it is going ahead or you may have a very open and honest culture. Keeping employees informed about an office move can help to maintain a sense of harmony within your organisation. It’s important they are told of any plans as soon as possible, to avoid the spread of rumours (whether they are true or not).
Our advice: Enlist the help of your communications or marketing team to provide relevant information at the right time to employees. You don’t have to fill them in on every small detail, but information you feel is important might help to eliminate any anxiety. Once your office relocation is certain, use communications channels such as your internal staff website or weekly updates to provide a roundup of news and timescales.
Before making any firm decisions about an office relocation, it’s important to get as much feedback from your employees as you can. A consultation process will demonstrate that you value staff members’ opinions and provides an organised, structured way of obtaining feedback. You will also learn more about what they do or don’t like about your current office location.
Our advice: Carry out preliminary research to learn where your employees live and how they get to work. You can also host workshops and ask people directly how they feel about your current office location or a possible move to another area. If you’ve reached the stage where you have a short list of possible areas, you can ask for feedback, although this is optional. Assign champions from each department who can gather feedback from your employees and voice any opinions or concerns on behalf of others.
An office relocation can be stressful for employees. They might face additional costs getting to work or feel uncertain about a new location. So it’s important to reinforce the benefits of a new office space. You can do this every time you communicate with your staff members throughout the process.
Our advice: Think about the advantages of an office relocation for your company and employees, then communicate these messages to them in your updates. Highlighting aspects such as growth, more space, proximity to a Tube station or better facilities such as an on-site gym or coffee bar will help them to think positively about a relocation.
Even if you have carefully planned and diligently consulted with your employees, there is still more you can do to make them feel at ease after a relocation. Your new building, borough or street will be unfamiliar, so it’s wise to do all you can to help people settle in.
Our advice: Once you’ve relocated, it’s still important to engage employees. Many companies organise a welcoming ‘new office’ party for staff members. You can also provide welcome packs, local area guides or organise discounts at nearby cafes and restaurants to introduce them to the new neighbourhood.