Any advice for moving entire offices/staff to a new building?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Carlo Medina, Jul 19, 2006.

  1. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Hey guys, I was wondering if I could leverage your collective expertise on this matter:

    Early next year a staff of about 75-100 people will be relocating to a building about a mile away. It will be traumatic for some of them, as this is an involuntary move (it was mandated from the top down). Overall, the facilities should actually be better (the building is newer and a space planning committee has been commissioned). But it will move the staff away from its primary clientele and require more shipping of items back and forth, as well as an increased reliance on virtual contacts rather than actual (i.e. phone/email vs. talking face to face).

    Does anyone have any experience in this? What resources [be they books, online pages, etc.] did you find helpful in helping your staff deal with the relocation.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I deal with this constantly at our company -- moving staff within and between approximately 40 different facilities around the Metro Detroit area. While my group is only responsible for installing data and voice communications for the staff, here are a few things to consider:

    1. Make sure there is ample (and hopefully convenient) parking at the new facility for all staff.

    2. Provide a list of restaurants and shops in the new area to the staff.

    3. If staff will need to travel from the new location to other sites, keep up with the IRS recommended mileage reimbursement. With rising gas prices, staff will be quite sensitive to inadequate mileage reimbursement amounts. Also, make the process for submitting for mileage reimbursement as simple as possible (preferrably online).

    4. Make it simple for staff to setup conference calls with the remote clientele. We have Nortel PBX's, and have conference bridge capabilities installed within a couple and have trained our help desk on how to set them up for staff upon request.

    5. Look into collaborative tools such as Microsoft NetMeeting and Share Point.
     
  3. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I do have a fair amount of experience in moving employees from one location to another==and as you indicate there are really two issues: the logistics of the physical move and the impact to the employees (new locations, new procedures work and so on).

    With 75-100 employees, I think that there are more or less three options. The first is to hire an expert in this field to manage the move (this really is a specialty). This might be worth the money if your company does not have internal expertise in moves of this type.

    Many companies have facilities staff who are experienced in moves and can handle most of the routine, physical aspects of such a move without too much added effort.. If you are in this position, you can use them. This works well providing the move is not far (you did not say, but I assume that your move is not cross-country) and if your move does not involve specialized, time=dependent items, such as computer files to which your employees need real-time access.

    Of course you can opt for using some of the current staff to manage the move. This can work well, assuming that you have employees with basic project management skills, and it will be necessary to use some of them, should your move involve items that require specialized (their) skills.

    In all of these cases, my very strong recommendation is that one person is put in charge of the move, given the authority and budget to make decisions and made accountable for the move’s success. Of course this person may report to senior management on a regular basis, but she should make the tactical decisions.

    As for the employees who may be concerned about the move, it may be that your company has relocation experts in your HR department. If so use them to put together a communication plan for the employees, If not, use HR. If that is not an option, strategic communication should be done by senior management at appropriate times before the move and as important items change. Routine communication can be done by the project manager or mid-level management.

    Did I mention that the person responsible should also develop a communication plan? It is critical that everyone understand the reasons for the move, the timeline, the progress and changes in the plan. Of course this does not necessarily need to be done at the detail level, but the more the employees know about the whys and wherefores, the less stress they will feel—and the less rumor mongering that will occur.

    I hope this helps—it is hard to go into more detail without knowing things like distances involved and so fourth.

    Good luck.
     
  4. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the advice guys. I won't actually be in charge of the whole move. What's happening is that I'm applying for a job which is a manager to about 20-30 of the affected staff. As part of my interview they want a 10 minute presentation displaying a "conceptual approach" to the move.

    So I don't have to have the nuts and bolts worked out (i.e. hiring movers, space planning, etc.) but more like how to deal with concerns both by the staff and by the workflow due to the logistics of the move.
     
  5. McPaul

    McPaul Screenwriter

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    Great answers so far!

    I think Lew mentioned the most important part last. I have experience as a change management consultant and a key part of any change is communication. You are going to have push back, and most likely, a lot of it. Managing that pushback will be a key part of your success. I agree with having some 'metrics' around the move added to your divisions' leadership KPI's. How do you measure this? if your company does a semi- or annual pulsecheck survey where you poll employees for satisfaction and engagement scores, have questions added to the survey about the move. Have your leadership accountabile for these scores.

    make sure you have strategic communication set up on a regular basis. be open and honest. Let them know the why's what's, who's, where's and when's and how's. use meetings, emails, signage, whatever resources you have available to you.

    also, allow for two way communication. give them time to voice their concerns. acknowledge their concerns, validate them, and counterpoint them. Have a sell sheet made up for yourself that will give you quick access to answers to all anticipated questions, give restaurant suggestions, as per Scott's post.

    have listening sessions to accomplish this. post a special "suggestion box" on your division's intranet.

    Also, try and keep a special eye out for people pushing back silently. Many people don't complain about something for fear of reprecussion. You know the old addage of keeping something in for so long until it explodes inside is very true. These people can be a concern because they can bring everyone around them down, and impact productivity negatively.

    Don't forget at the end of the move (and somewhat during) to recognize your employees for doing a good job in helping the transition go through smoothly, it doesn't have to be formal, but everyone likes a little pat on the back now and then.

    I was never involved in people moves myself, from a change management perspective, however my current company is going through a reshuffling at HO as renovations to various parts of the building are completed.

    Give packing instructions, boxes and tape are located where? label everything with your phone extension so it doesn't get lost in the move.

    we have Hard Hat Updates that tell us which crews will be in the building working where, what noises, and smells will result from the work. have guest passes made up for these workers so they can still be verified, and it would still be possible for your employees to help spot anyone who is there but should not be in the building. Have your employees challenge anyone who doesn't have a pass.

    When you're moving, it would be a good idea to post an office ettiquette online or in a distribution list. ie... keep personal items to a minimum, keep clutter down, avoid pinning too many items to the fabric walls of cubicles, avoid taping anything to the cubicle walls, or stacking things on the cubicle cubboards, or leaving top drawers of filing cabinets open (top heavy)refresh the dress code, refresh guidelines for keeping cellphone rings turned off, for watching your volume for your conference calls, speaker phones, and radios, institute a symbolic knock for when you come by someone's space. If you have a group by your desk for an extended period of time, have them emov into another space to discuss. avoid "borrowing" someone else's supplies unless specifically asked for.

    do two seperate move 'categories'. have employees gather all their loose stuff and move it themselves. all IT or furniture to be moved by the IT / move team.

    In addition to managing change and efficiencies, your top priority should be to keep everybody safe. It may sound stupid, but it's true. Keep that in mind.

    Best of luck in your interviews!
     
  6. DanielKellmii

    DanielKellmii Supporting Actor

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    I was a "victim" of this a couple of years ago. As an emplyoee, we were instructed to put all our stuff in a box and label it. Then, the next week, we were supposed to go to our new cube. We were given a map with our location marked ahead of time. We were also given a paid day-off. The IT department did not get the day off. They personally took care of all things IT except for physically moving large items. That really helped. The IT people knew what was going on in the new building.
    Of course, some patience is required for the first few days after the move.
     
  7. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    Being on the IT side of departmental relocations, it's imperative that IT be involved intimately with these projects. In my group, I have four staff members who handle the coordination of all IT-related tasks for department relocations -- identifying PCs, printers, phones, and applications required by each staff person, coordinating cabling, activating data/voice signals, making sure the devices get moved to the proper location on move day, etc. We work closely with the construction project managers and facilities management groups. There is enough of this activity to keep all four people very busy (and that doesn't include the technicians, engineers and programmers doing a lot of the actual work).
     
  8. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Well you could just fire everyone at the end of the old location and then hire new people at the new location. This would really save on moving expenses.
     

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