Move Cum Laude: Graduating Into New Office Space

By Ken Ashley

(ATLANTA) May 23rd, 2011

Congratulations graduates! Grab the Hallmark’s and leather folios. It’s that time of year; May flowers and enthusiastic graduates are synonymous and plentiful.

Attention class: there’s a parallel in an office move. You’ve signed the new lease, told the employees (please see this post on change management before the lease deal is announced).

Heavy Metal, Dude

and now you feel as if you are graduating.

Imagine the typical commencement speech in your head. “You’ve worked hard to get to this point and the future is your oyster.” “Many are looking at you expectantly for great results in the future.” “You have all the tools you need to succeed.” You’re already nodding off; Need we go on?

The pressure to succeed in the office move is significant. Just like that graduate, it’s a great feeling of accomplishment to get the lease signed, but moving forward can be daunting.

In fact, there are few things in corporate America that strike angst in the executive’s soul like contemplating the complexities and risk of a large move of personnel. This game of corporate fear factor has many down sides and a simple pat on the back if everything goes perfectly. We’ve heard that a large majority of those who are responsible for the move/build-out leave their jobs within the following 12 months because of the stress.

As one of our corporate executive friends likes to ask, “People, how can we de-risk this situation?”

We offer a few thoughts below. They are not one size fits all, but can provide a framework to think about the process.Your staff: "I sure do love our manager. She REALLY has it all together."

1)   Start Early – You know that, but distractions of getting a deal done get many folks out of the transition game. Will we renew? Maybe we won’t have to do anything. Why waste all this time if we aren’t moving? Plan to move and perhaps you will stay is our advice. The closer you get to lease execution, the more planning you should be doing for either scenario.

2)   Learn the language – Even if you delegate the move planning, you should know the lingo. Just think how cool you will appear in the planning meeting when you know terms like Storage In Transit. You’ll be a move demi-god. The American Moving and Storage Association (“AMSA”) has a dictionary that can help you with your coolness mission here.

3)   Be Green – A number of moving companies are offering environmentally responsibly approaches to the move. Major offerings include minimizing waste, reusing boxes (likely plastic crates instead), and working with companies that use other sustainable practices such as bio-diesel. Our client, Flood Brothers Moving, has a site that outlines at least one approach to a green move.

4)   Hire Professional Help (sounds like a psychologist, we know) or you may be spending time on professional help wanted sites looking for your next job. There is an entire industry of move coordinators that can certainly help you on move day and deal with any issues that arise. You don’t know what you don’t know. AMSA has a search engine here. You can also check with your broker, architect and others who will likely have good recommendations of those they have worked with in the past.

5)   Build the Team Working with the move coordinator,  you of course need to have the right group of folks plugged-in internally. In some companies, this is easy to accomplish because there may be a regular senior management group that can monitor this process. In others, (if you are merging companies or divisions, for example) you may have to form the team. Nominally, the team will certainly include HR, IT and real estate team members.

6)   Make communication a verb.  Communicate in writing, in video, in person. Different employees, and for that matter, different generations of staffers don’t consume information in the same way. So why take chances? The basic story can be communicated in a number of different ways.

One evolving method of communication is the social media channel. If you have an example of move or change management being communicated through SM, we’d love to hear about it.

 7)   Move (“M”) Day After all the meetings and happy talk, it really is critical to help folks. It is very possible that you are the most highly briefed individual on the team. In fact, much of the plan and many of the decisions may have come from you. Remember that this can be enormously stressful to high performing team members, and work hard to make them feel at ease. A dose of please, thank you, and plenty of bagels and coffee will help.

Other considerations:

  • Wayfaring Signage – Show them once again where things are.
  • Blanket with IT help – Really beef up your team so people can get help very quickly
  • Welcome wagon – socialize the change and congratulate the team. Create boards extolling the benefits of the new location (and mirror online). Work to build a genuine sense of excitement.
  • Management presence – You may have your own move, but be a battlefield leader. Fly the flag and be there to help. Maybe you help that new staffer unpack. Offer help with the small things. People love a servant leader.

8)   Post M Day Thank goodness you made it and the servers didn’t crash. The phones are humming and people are checking out the new coffee machine in the svelte break room. But it ain’t over quite yet. Make sure that folks have an orderly way to report problems to your respective vendors. You might have a team from the furniture provider, IT, the contractor and other important service providers walk the space a week after the move to make sure everyone is settled in and productive. Being proactive will make you look smart.

 9)   Recognize the team So, back to the graduation speech. Many did in fact work hard to make this happen. Recognize your key contributors and create a team player award. Maybe you create a document or wall plaque that heralds the

All eyes on the successful leader!

key participants. It will certainly give you something to talk about at the next all-hands meeting.

Now you’re done and the world is your oyster. Queue Pomp and Circumstance, flip that tassel and get ready for the next challenge because you are a move graduate, cum laude.

One response to “Move Cum Laude: Graduating Into New Office Space

  1. When you are looking to renovate space because you are staying put /expanding, or you are moving to a new location, do not forget to check on local and national incentives for incorporating energy efficiency in your tenant improvement plans. There are rebates, tax deductions and possible credits throughout the country and they are easy to find. To find out what is available in your area, start with:
    Good Luck.

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