Moving to a new location can be an exciting time – whether you found that perfect location downtown, you’re expanding to a larger office, changing to an open plan environment, or saving money in a new space.
To your employees, facing change the size of a corporate relocation is a big deal. Their commute might change, they won’t see the same people in the hallway, and they may no longer be near their favorite café. But more importantly, big changes like an office move can cause employees to feel less secure about their company and their jobs which impacts their productivity.
The good news is that there are things you can do to ease the move for your employees. Use these five important tips from your communication CHEST when communicating a move:
1. Clear – Tell your employees in clear and simple language what is going to happen as soon as the details are solidified. Are you moving just part of the company or everything? Are there other implications such as reorganizations? Are you moving into an existing building or a new one? While you communicate, be sure to minimize any jargon you may get from your lawyers!
Employees feel valued and trusted if they hear exactly what is happening from the company before they hear it in the news or the rumor mill.
2. Honest – Be honest and open about the reasons why you are making this change. The more transparent you can be about the reasons for the move, the faster employees will accept the situation and not question the motives. What prompted this move? Does it mean a stronger future? Better working environment? Cost savings?
Even if employees don’t like the decision, they’ll understand it and will be better able to support it.
3. Empathetic – Even good news is a change and can be hard for some employees. If this is a major move, not everyone will be able to relocate. Explain how this move will benefit them in future, and try to frame all communication from their perspective. Write using “we,” “you” and “us,” instead of referring to “impacted staff.”
Engaging employees in this way will show you value them, recognize they are real people, and provide relatable perspective.
4. Schedule – Provide some kind of timeline. Even a best guess helps an employee know how much time they have to prepare. Is your move happening in a month? Or over several years? What do your employees need to do to prepare, and how soon?
Schedules help employees manage their own expectations.
5. Two-way communication – Set up a process to listen. Let employees share their feelings and ask questions which get answered in a timely manner. Have information available that highlights both the pros and cons of the new location – if possible at the same time as your first announcement. Encourage employees to share information with each other, too, through internal social media or other company forum. Look for ways your employees can contribute to the success of the relocation. How can their input be included in the planning and decision making process? Can they vote on accent colors or break room amenities?
The more you involve employees in the move, the more they’ll own the results. The new location will become theirs, and they’ll be more excited about the new space.
Opening up this communication CHEST will help employees successfully manage the change of moving. Keep talking to them and provide regular updates as often as you can.
Toyota is in the process of moving a few thousand employees located in several locations across the US to a new location in Texas. They followed these tips when they announced the relocation, and have continued to follow them during the subsequent years as they prepared employees for the move and finished building the new facilities.
Following the initial announcement, more than 85% of employees agreed that they understood the reasons behind the move, and the number of employees committing to moving to Texas has so far exceeded expectations. You can read how they incorporated these guidelines in this case study.
Best of luck during your move!