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The employees are the backbone of every business. If they don’t feel comfortable, lack motivation and struggle with the idea of relocating the office, the company may suffer serious monetary losses. Bear in mind that what some staff members perceive as a great new opportunity, others may interpret as a threat to their current life situation. The key is communication. If you want to successfully move your office, you need to engage your staff the right way.
After years of experience in different commercial removals and talking with many owners and leading managers, we have a pretty good idea of how employer-employee communication should unfold. Our London office moving coordinators have acquired information from different sources, including our previous clients and have gathered it in one place to help you deal with the tough situation.
First, you need to remember that office relocation is not something you can casually mention at a staff meeting. Keep in mind that rumours have already spread in the company and your employees are vaguely aware of what is about to ensue. So you need to have a plan to get everyone on board from the start.
It may sound a bit much, but your ultimate goal is to keep as many dedicated employees as you can, so the work can continue smoothly at the new location. Your clients will notice if there is a big change in the company, especially if the work quality drops. Not to mention that it can negatively impact your profits and business reputation.
There are two possible scenarios when it comes to relocation of the office:
With this type of removal, the personal disturbance your staff will experience is relatively smaller. However, if you want to keep your employees, you need to create a safety plan that covers the people who have difficulties getting to the new location. For example, if the commute to work changes from 30 minutes a day to 4 hours, you will have a hard time keeping even the most dedicated employees.
In this case, the whole life of your staff is about to change, thus you have to make a significant effort to minimise the negative outcome. Part of your moving budget needs to be dedicated to accommodating the new situation. Things like providing remote working stations, covering the moving expenses of your staff, giving company vehicles or travel bonuses must be discussed.
Disclaimer: We purposely do not look into the situation where you move your office abroad. International business removal is an entirely new topic with its own specifics. As such, it will be examined in a different article.
Since this is the first time you address openly the relocation, you need to put in the letter as much information as possible. Your goals are to stop the rumours, ease the tension and provide accurate insight about the future office moving. The announcement must have the following attributes:
This data will be very helpful to your employees and will create a sense of structure.
We advise you to put another piece of information – the date of the company party. You have gone through a lot of stress and anxious planning, and make no mistake, your employees feel the same way. So an unofficial company gathering with beer and hamburgers is the perfect start of your new business journey.
Note that the content of the initial announcement letter changes according to the location you are moving to. If you are preparing to transfer your office to a new city you need to include more information about the measures you are prepared to take like providing help with the accommodation and long-distance transport.
Make it clear you value your employees’ opinion, and you will try to implement their ideas and suggestions in the preparation of the moving schedule. This is not the last moving announcement you would make, but it is the first, and you need to leave your staff with the impression everything will be alright.
Disclaimer: For smaller companies, the dates of the move and the end of the preparations can be the same. However, bigger businesses with internal networks and office servers will need more time to prepare all the technical details. You can check our detailed office moving guide for more information on what you need to do to properly relocate the IT.
One of the top priorities of all managers is to maintain a healthy work environment, especially in times of big business changes. The office relocation can bring a lot of stress and anxiety to the employees and can have long-term negative effects on their well-being and job performance. And if our staff is not doing their best, soon your business will start to suffer as well. During the relocation process, upper management and HR need to defuse the negative buildup and provide their staff with help and guidance. The first step is to recognise that there is a problem. Then you would need to have the right tools to deal with it.
As long as you know what to look for, the signs of anxiety are easy to decipher. Pay attention to the following:
Withdrawn and passive behaviour. If your staff member seems disinterested and apathetic to the things happening around them, it is a clear indicator something is not right.
You can’t help everybody, but at least you can try. Some people will end up leaving, but your goal is to keep the numbers at a minimum. So from the very start, try to implement some of the following strategies:
It is easier said than done, especially if you are a large business with 100+ staff members. It is physically impossible for one person to hear and respond adequately to each complaint, suggestion and concern. You or your moving PM have to be in staff meetings constantly, and no work will be ever accomplished. That is why we propose a simple solution. Create a “Suggestion box” for each department. Your head manager will meet with their direct subordinates each week and discuss the proposed ideas. Keep in mind that it shouldn’t be mandatory. If you have something to say – say it. If you don’t, it’s all right.
Don’t keep your employees in the dark. Depending on when the move must be finalised, send an email bulletin. Summarise where you are in terms of preparations, packing, etc. An important point you must include is the changes you have considered making due to the ideas received from the “Suggestion box.” Prise the innovative thinking of certain people and encourage others to share their views. Your staff need to be aware that their voice is heard by the top management.
Organise a meeting between the heads of your departments. Divide the tasks amongst them. Don’t overwork one person (your moving PM) and give a free pass to others. For example, the sales team will be responsible for sending a moving announcement to your current clients. The marketing team will prepare the new pamphlets, business cards and other materials with your new address, so your representatives can start working normally from the first day at your future location.
Each team has to have its internal goals and must be praised when they reach a particular milestone. You can even include this information in the moving bulletin. For example:
“It is with great pleasure that we inform you about the outstanding job the marketing team has done in the past week/month. All of your company business cards and sales materials have been revised and changed, so our dedicated representatives won’t experience a setback once the office is relocated.”
People like to be praised for their hard work. Money is a good initial motivator, but from one point, you have to rely on acknowledgement as well.
Do not overwork them and try not to put too much pressure. If you plan adequately, you should have enough time for everything. If you make a mistake, make it public to your staff, show them that you are only human. The good owner is the one who takes care of its staff members and doesn’t glorify the upper management. If you receive an indication that a particular department is performing bad, take the time to investigate the cause. Sometimes all you need to do is to have a friendly, reassuring chat and show you value the efforts, each person put into the success of your business.
The basis of the legal relationship between an employer and an employee is the contract they sign. All future altercations and conflicts are resolved under the clauses in that written agreement.
If a mobility clause was included in the contract, the employee has agreed to relocate with the company, as long as it is at a reasonable distance. However, in certain situations, the clause can be redundant. The associates at Stephans& Scown have published a detailed article, explaining the legal details in a very easy to understand way.
You can also check the official government page regarding the relocation of the employer.
Make sure to check all available information and consult with your lawyers. You need to have a backup plan in case some of your top staff members are uncertain about the relocation. Be flexible and consider other options like remote working or paying some of your employees’ costs. Good help is hard to find, so respect the people whose job is to make your business successful.
If you want to learn more about how to execute a fast and event-free business move, check out our ultimate office removal guide. There, our London movers explain in detail how to best pack and prepare for the big day. If you have questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section below, we would love to help you.
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