Change can be unsettling, especially if you’re acclimatizing to someplace new. “We spend a third of our lives at work, so of course a location change will impact employees,” says Phil Sofia, VP of Sales at SquareFoot. “Our clients have found that a little sensitivity and some careful planning go a long way toward easing that stress.”
Our mission at SquareFoot is to enhance every aspect of your move—and that includes employee satisfaction. So here are four steps to ensure a smooth-as-possible transition.
1. Give them a say.
Case studies show that employees who are most involved in the lead-up to the move end up with most pride of place once they get there. That translates most specifically to higher morale and less job dissatisfaction.
Further, research suggests that such early involvement need only be proportional to the impending change to offer its salutary effects. That is, if the move will only be a minor one, employee anxiety can be eased by participation in general surveys or brainstorming sessions about commutes, favored neighborhoods and general office likes and dislikes. If, however, the move figures to significantly disrupt routines, company-wide votes on specific issues—say, interior design or seating plans—may be necessary. Asking for tangible input rather than more generic feedback bolsters individual feelings of investment. Similarly, you may want to consider creating task groups around specific aspects of the move and include those who have indicated a particular interest in that subject.
2. Keep them clued in.
Rumor is your worst enemy. Behavioral studies reveal that employees grow frustrated when the information they are presented with runs counter to or falls short of the environmental cues they inevitably pick up along the way. Any announcement of a move, needs to be informative enough to sufficiently fill the void of ignorance and squelch speculation.
It’s important that regular and transparent communication continue throughout the process. Tell employees why something is being done and not just that it is being done. Organize group tours of the new space. Dedicate a portion of regular staff meetings to updates and questions about the move. The more proactive and open you are, the better.
3. Ease the transition.
Your announcement-day game plan should also include set-aside time to speak with those most impacted by the impending change—individual meetings to talk through relocation packages (if relevant), commuting issues and other major routine-shifting concerns. Sometimes, simply acknowledging the inconvenience can help the job satisfaction rate. But be prepared to offer solutions. For instance, as travel time goes up, job satisfaction goes down, so consider subsidizing transportation costs or instituting some schedule flexibility for employees who live far away.
In any case, all employees will appreciate informational packets about the new location complete with public transit routes, restaurants, schools, gyms, drugstores, and the like. Better yet? A company exploratory outing to the new neighborhood.
4. Provide time to adjust.
No matter what you do, of course, there will be an employee or three who still will find something to complain about. Relax. Time is on your side. Studies have found that new-office blues dissipate as time passes. Employees adjust. Anyway, if the new space has been chosen with care, the move will begin to have a positive impact on morale and productivity as soon as the dust has cleared and the boxes have been unpacked. That said, you need to account for a transitional period. Employees may well be distracted for a while. Here again, periodic one-on-one check-ins offer another chance to deal with unforeseen issues. Continuing to show concern for employees’ well-being will have everybody feeling right at home before long.