All-in-all, it can take 3-6 months to situate your team in a new office.
It would be a shame if, after all that, parts of your team were ambivalent, or worse, resistant to the move.
This might seem like a far-fetched scenario. Who would complain about a bigger, newer office?
You’d be surprised.
The commute is already a sore subject for many living in and around busy metropolitan areas. Any decision that makes it worse could breed outright resentment of the new office location.
Neither is it safe any longer to assume employees are in love with the open floor plan trend that’s taken the TAMI industries by storm.
It’s impossible to please everyone, but there are steps you can take to increase the likelihood the new office is a smash-hit with employees.
Involve the employees in the office space search
A popular practice is to issue a simple survey asking employees how they prioritize amenities and attributes like natural light, beer on tap and other amenities that might the office more enjoyable.
Alternately, you could present employees with simple, binary choices that garner necessary feedback and include everyone’s voice.
When Mediamath moved to 4 World Trade, for example, they were also considering space much closer to their previous Midtown locale to preserve employees’ commute. They gave employees the opportunity to tour both spaces and cast a vote on which they preferred. The rest is history.
Similarly, for 3EConnections, a PR firm based in Coral Springs, FL, CEO Teana McDonald offered employees the chance to tour spaces with the potential to serve as the news office. If for no other reason than to include them.
“I did it to obtain their feedback and also to give them a sense of ownership and investment in the decision-making process.”
Tap the familiar
“Before and after the move, absolutely everyone was on board and we are all very happy with where we are now,” says Deborah Sweeney, CEO of incorporation service MyCorporation.
“A lot of that has to do with the fact that we retained the layout of our previous location, which was an open floor plan. The old office, though also an open floor plan, was just too small and cramped to accommodate our growing team.”
MyCorporation flocked to a more spacious, airy location just outside Thousand Oaks, CA last September, and for Sweeney and team, the mere fact of more space was the overriding benefit in choosing a new office. Not much else needed to change to make it a successful endeavor.
“My best advice would be to move somewhere with a building layout similar to what your team is used to, and to pick a location that is not too terribly far from where you once were,” says Sweeney.
The new office is located just three miles from the old location.
Make the interior design process democratic
For many companies, involving the entire team in the office space search simply isn’t practical.
Instead, many companies appoint a search committee, comprised of leaders from each department in the org, to make the more substantial decisions on office size and location. They then find other meaningful ways to involve the rest of the employees.
“We didn’t so much involve [employees] in finding the office as much as we did designing it,” says Jan Bednar, CEO of ShipMonk, an eCommerce order-fulfillment service.
“We sent out a questionnaire asking our employees what they’d most like. In the end, we ended up with a ping pong table, fully-stocked bar (for office happy hours), and even a meditation room… which has gotten an inordinate amount of use these past couple months.”
For Summerjax, a full-service production agency with a new space in the Killingsworth Clock Office Building in Long Beach, their employees took a more hands-on role in the space’s design.
“The employees loved being part of the process,” says Oren Tanzer, a company exec who was also on the moving committee. “We involved [them] in the design and layouts of their work stations. Each work station is customized to incorporate personalized credenzas as well as plants and chairs for casual meetings or work sessions.”
The way Bednar sees it, investing these types of choices in employees can only motivate them to use the office space they helped create. As much as employers have been willing to bend on flexible work policies, their idea still involves a team spending more time at the office—and with each other.
“While the workplace needs to be functional, it also needs to be engaging,” he says. “There are a lot of work-from-home opportunities. You need to make sure your office—both in location and décor—are desirable enough to inspire your team members to make the commute and spend time in the office.”