Category Archives: Cushman & Wakefield

iCampus

By Ken Ashley

March 12th, 2012 (ATLANTA)

In an incredible announcement over the weekend, Apple has gone public with its plans to create a $304 million dollar campus for more than 3,600 people in Austin, Texas. This is on the heels of their $500 million dollar Cupertino, CA campus that is now under construction. Wow, hope they sell a gazillion iPad 3s.

The Cupertino building famously looks like a space ship. It will be interesting to see if Austin gets in on the “space” program as well. (Has the Eagle landed in Austin?).

Dan Whisenhunt, Apple’s Director of Real Estate and Facilities, must be the busiest real estate professional in America.  I imagine Dan in his weekly meeting telling his staff, “Ok, we’re going to keep the existing global portfolio growing, build this building in

Austin, We Have A Problem - Too Many People!

Cupertino on time and on budget. Oh, by the way, we’re also going to build another campus in Austin at the same time.”  “Hey, let’s FOCUS people.” “Pass me another protein bar and a Mountain Dew, please.”

The combined $800 million in construction projects makes Apple the most active company in the world in the construction of new real estate facilities. Dan is indeed the man in corporate real estate these days. At least he can look at the plans in amazing clarity on his new iPad.

It’s Not Just Apple

Our team is currently representing two clients in the creation of three ground up construction opportunities.  The insurer Primerica is building a 345,000 square foot campus just outside of

Term Headquarters

Atlanta. They were able to create huge efficiencies by going from 10 separate buildings to one campus.  This facility will deliver in the Spring of 2013 and among other fabulous features, will have a state of the art facility for Primerica sales people to learn about the culture of the company and its products.

Porsche Cars North America is creating an approximately 175,000 s.f. corporate headquarters, training facility, and customer experience center adjacent to the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta. Customers will be able to come from all over the world and experience a little “every day magic” on the Porsche handling

Come to work and ZOOM!

circuit. This project will deliver at the end of 2013 and be a huge boost for Atlanta’s international reputation.

In addition to the Atlanta facility, Porsche announced at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show that it will break ground in the spring of 2012 on a second US Porsche Experience Center in Carson, California. The centerpiece track  (like Atlanta) will include encounters with rain and man-made snow, as well as an off-road course.

If tooling around a winding track in Southern California in a seventh-generation Porsche 911 isn’t your idea of ecstasy, there will also be a “Porsche Human Performance

Paging Jerry Seinfeld

Center,” with a sports-science laboratory to “maximize personal fitness, wellness and athletic performance.” As my Southern Grandmother would say, “oh my, that’s better than a blueberry pie.”

But There is so Much Vacancy….

Why would anyone build now? How can senior leadership justify spending capital on creating new product when the national office vacancy rate is at nearly 17%?  Ahhh, no matter the real estate cycle, projects like these can and will happen.

Here are 8 reasons why major user might consider “campus consumption” as a way to solve their real estate challenges in 2012.

1)            Talent Cost and Availability

Yes, I know that the headlines still consistently discuss the masses of unemployed Americans. The reality is many companies are struggling with retaining talent in top executive positions and highly technical positions. Apple is creating talent diversity in its expansion to Austin. The labor market for techies is tough in Austin, but nothing compared to Cupertino and the Silicon Valley.

2)            Cash or Credit

With the spring thaw in real estate finance in motion, more corporations can get funds, if needed, to build campuses. Both lenders and equity investors have a growing appetite to do deals again (finally!). The reality is that many companies have huge troves of cash and some of them will invest this cash in dirt and buildings. Besides, you can always get the cash back out vis-a-vis a sales leaseback, should that become necessary.

3)            Space Efficiencies

In the recent great recession, companies would do anything to cut cost. Real estate is usually the second largest item in the budget after payroll, so “densification” of employees became a major initiative for many real estate departments. What many large users are finding now is that expansion is difficult to accommodate. In addition, rethinking the architectural program can yield significant space efficiencies. Also, like Primerica, some users find themselves in multiple buildings with the requisite inefficiencies.

4)             Point of Friction

Sometimes companies simply get too big to fit into existing product. While many major metro areas still have large holes and lots of space, mega requirement of 250,000 square feet and greater have a difficult time making existing buildings work. The “friction” that results can hatch a new campus.

5)            Incentives

Communities in the Southeast and Southwest United States are getting increasingly aggressive with inducements. The electorate is telling politicians with one voice – we want jobs! The politicians are tossing around cash, free land, tax breaks and all manner of incentives to land the next big one. Economic development organizations in many communities are becoming very sophisticated in their marketing efforts, and as a result, they are scoring some big wins for constituents.

6)            Building Cost

Commodity prices seem to be fluctuating all over the place, but the cost of construction is still a bargain principally because of labor cost. General contractors are reporting increased activity, but the sub trades are still willing to make great deals to get work. So are architects, environments experts and many other consultants.

7)            Taxes

It’s not new news that taxes are high in the gateway cities of San Francisco, LA and New York. These areas are simply very expensive places to do business. When companies layer in the significantly reduced tax burden in other places, the campus concept can get a major boost.

8)            Branding

As we experienced ourselves with Porsche and Primerica, iconic brands sometimes need iconic campus environments in order to market themselves both internally and externally. I’m sure Apple is creating great excitement internally for their employees. The Apple marketing guys are going to have a field day when Cupertino and Austin deliver. They will get millions of dollars in “free” PR for their company through the announcement and completion of these facilities. Sometimes the real estate math is just one small part of the evaluation model.

Build it and they will Brand

Campuses don’t work for many. Heck, they don’t work for most. I once had a senior telecom executive tell me that their industry changes too fast to even consider the campus option. He pointed out that there are many former telecom campuses around the United States. He’s certainly correct that the ultimate “exit” out of a campus can be difficult. Long after the ribbon cutting, selling or repositioning campus facilities can be a tremendous challenge.

However, as the economy improves, you will see more announcements of big, shiny new campus projects. Apple may be the biggest in this game, but they are certainly not the only player. As the economy two-steps into a recovery – Austin and elsewhere, more and more companies will evaluate campus solutions. If you check the right boxes and carefully analyze the alternatives, you might be surprised what a brand statement wrapped in real estate can do for your company.

A Face For Radio

By Ken Ashley

January 18th, 2012 (ATLANTA)

It was an honor and an all around neat experience to participate in Michael Bull’s Commercial Real Estate Radio show last week (link is at the bottom of this post). Michael assembled a panel of David Tennery, principal of Regent Partners, John Davidson, principal of

WKRP?

Parmenter Realty Partners, and yours truly. Ryan Severino, senior economist for REIS, dialed in by phone from New York. While my fellow panelists are all knowledgeable real estate thought-leaders, the clear consensus was that the entire panel had faces built for radio.

The mechanics of radio broadcasting are fascinating. I’ve never been in a sound studio before, but all the gear was really cool. It looked vaguely like a NASA control panel. I started to do my best Tom Hanks impression from Apollo 13, but the producer looked like she meant business.

Michael Bull created the show over a year and half ago, and in that time, has developed into quite a pro. His lead-ins were flawless, and his elocution perfect. I have a new found admiration for both qualities, by the way. So what was Michael’s

See What I Mean About Radio Face?

cheery advice to his panelist? “This radio thing is so easy, because even though tens of thousands of people will hear you, you can’t see them.” Thanks Michael … I feel better already.

A few highlights from the show:

  • Ryan Severino said that the national office vacancy rate declined by 30 basis points compared to 2010. Asking rents year over year rose by 1.6%, which is the first such increase since 2008.
  • The panelists agreed that a modest recovery is under way in US office.
  • When asked why we weren’t recovering faster, I suggested that the FUD Factor of fear, uncertainty and doubt is holding back corporate America. This fear factor is causing reticence to expand. Lets hope this changes soon.
  • Industries that will produce the most demand for office space are healthcare, technology, energy and education.
  • The office of the future will encourage collaboration and help highly compensated knowledge workers innovate and generate higher revenue.
  • Owner incentives seem to be moderating from the high levels of 2009 and 2010.

I hope you will take some time to listen to the show. The “talk time” (there’s an industry term for you) is 38 minutes.

Here’s the link – http://www.commercialrealestateshow.com/usoffice11812.html

Let The Store Come to the People — iMilk?

By Ken Ashley

The following blog originally appeared in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on November 28th, 2011.

CoreNet Global held its semi-annual summit in Atlanta recently.

Thousands of corporate real estate executives, service providers and economic developers traveled to our city to learn the latest trends in corporate real estate. While normally a confab to learn and discuss ideas in the office world, the event also featured an interesting retail story in one of the keynote talks.

Realcomm CEO Jim Young told an amazing story about a South Korean grocery store operator that significantly increased sales without adding one square foot of additional space (sorry, retail developers). UK based grocery giant Tesco – which later changed its name in the local market to HomePlus – now allows the store to truly come to the people in South Korea.

The marketing team created virtual stores that replicate their product on subway walls with sharp and lifelike pictures. The advertising team leased entire vertical spaces on the train platform. Now those spaces show pictures of food products that appear exactly as they would in the store. Busy, hardworking, and bored consumers can now shop by scanning the pictures with their smart phones. One can point the phone at a picture of milk, bread or hundreds of products. When you click, the product is added to the shoppers’ virtual basket. The the online purchase is completed and is delivered to consumers’ homes. Wouldn’t it be great if the staples showed up at your house in a similar fashion?

The shopping experience is sort of like Amazon.com on a public wall. By overcoming an apparent handicap of fewer stores than the leading competitor, HomePlus became the second best selling grocery store in the entire country. I’m impressed by their innovation and even more so by the results. The whole idea is profiled in a YouTube video the company cheerily produced to show off its success

What are the uses of this kind of technology for busy consumers in the United States? Where could you message your customers or employees when they have wait-time or downtime? I bet the walls at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport and MARTA will look very different in the coming years.

Static advertising suddenly seems so 2010. Come to think of it we need more milk at the house. Rats.

BYOT PYT: Dance of the iPhones at Work

By Ken Ashley

November 28th, 2011 (ATLANTA)

At the recent CoreNet Global Summit in Atlanta, one of the issues that came to the fore is not traditionally something in the real estate domain: technology and

One Glove. Easier to Hold an iPhone

One Glove. Easier to Hold an iPhone

the pace of its change. More specifically, in several sessions, discussion revolved around the fact that employees are increasingly bringing their own personal tech tools to the workplace.  Bringing Your Own Technology – Pretty Young Thing – (with apologies to the Gloved One) is and will continue to happen whether corporate America wants it or not. There are a whole host of interesting challenges but also opportunities surrounding this phenomenon.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Back in ancient history, say a year ago, companies could still control access to the Internet via their networks. They provided merely adequate hardware tools that knowledge workers were required to use in order to complete their tasks. Now, thanks to Steve Jobs and many others, machines are getting more personal and far more powerful. I tell friends that my iPhone isn’t necessarily the best business handheld, but it is by far the best all around life machine. It goes with me most everywhere and I bet I’m not alone in this regard.

And oh my, the power is incredible. For comparison,  consider the Apollo Guidance Computer in the 1960’s had a 2048 word (!) erasable memory.  How that

Desktop Computing in 1965

machine took a man to the moon is still a miracle and a testament to the fortitude, smarts and courage of those early NASA engineers and astronauts.

Today’s generation of iPhones are incredibly advanced from even a few years ago. On memory alone, I carry 64 gigabits around in my pocket. What would have happened to Apollo 13 with a dual-core Apple processor on board (iApollo)? My iPhone is nearly 11 million times more powerful than that Apollo unit, and in the memory alone can hold between 3 and 6 million books. Simply amazing! It’s fun to think that, based on sheer computing power, you or I could fly a mission to outer space on the power of the smart phone on which you might be reading this very blog.

I Want My Network

But that’s kind of the point in corporate America. Gen Y  – and increasingly all generations  – are showing up to work with the latest and most powerful devices that slip into any pocket. Whether you use brand Apple, Droid, or any other personal machine, these devices continue to become far more important in the lives of Gen X but are required for life itself in Gen Y.

Now, with the advent of cheap portable Wi-Fi networks and hotspots, employees can download previously banned sites like ESPN, Facebook, and YouTube. The Berlin Wall IT tried to put up, for perfectly good reasons, has fallen. Put another way, knowledge workers have seen the light and will not turn back to technological darkness.

This access and power brings with it challenges, but also great opportunity.  On the challenge side, corporate IT departments are currently going crazy worried about the safety of company data and work product. They are issuing proclamations that suggest they are still in control and begging employees to keep data on the companies’ networks and in their cloud. IT claims to have the ability to inspect any machine that employees bring on campus. In many cases, legal agrees, but this is an emerging area of the law. Besides, many employees simply say “Good luck with inspecting my private device; you can pry my iPhone from my cold dead fingers.” Don’t forget that the best knowledge workers have job portability despite the economy.

On the opportunity side, we anticipate great new ideas and collaboration facilitated by amazing leaps forward in technology. The new platforms enable people to communicate, think, and work in ways that are constantly changing. Besides, the hardware is simply a vehicle for amazing software, including social media platforms, that are both changing rapidly. For example, in my own company, we are experimenting with the social networking platform Yammer to share best practices. Emerging technology in its best usage can affect the Holy Grail; increase employee productivity, and that’s something every executive should be interested in.

Hey Kid, Over Here

We certainly understand the angst that IT, Legal, HR and all the leadership have with technology “gone wild”. There are serious issues that companies need to think about in terms of protection of data from competitive snooping, lawsuits and the like.

But before we put up big chain link fences and tell employees what they absolutely positively can’t do, we should keep in mind iPhones, Droids, and other similar devices will keep coming, and our whole society is adopting them into both work and life. No matter how many memos we send, people will keep using these tools.  Our challenge is to figure out how to embrace this change and work through the security questions, instead of the other way around.

What About The Sticks and Bricks?

So, since this is a real estate space, we will ask what does the personal technology invasion mean for those charged with delivering the space – that envelope in which we conduct business? As Jim Young, CEO of Realcomm suggested at the recent CoreNet Summit, a closer alignment with IT, HR and Legal is in order. This issue will not go away, and all of us in corporate real estate must be prepared to address changing technology issues. Besides, you will certainly be appreciated internally if you are a leader in this area as opposed to a follower.

If you are the real estate executive, call your sister departments and host a lunch.

Don't Forget the Whiteboard!

Invite the CFO if it is appropriate as well. If you are CEO, CFO or in the C-suite, so much the better. Bet folks will accept your lunch invitation either way.

May we suggest that the first topic be how to improve productivity on both an individual and a corporate level with the use of these machines. Appoint an “apps czar” and schedule lunch and learns. Your own employees will likely be happy to lead these, but you have to ask. Ask internal innovators to tell you what they are doing with their machines and apps (see this article on Reverse Mentoring from today’s Wall Street Journal). Challenge the team to work with you, and you might be shocked at the outcome. The machines are, of course, only the on-ramp for this new collaboration.

As to the legal and IT issues, rules are made to help people. These rules can evolve as appropriate, but you should first figure out how to harness the phenomenon of personal technology to help the enterprise. The dance of the iPhones is already happening in your workplace, like it or not.

Besides, if you cant beat ‘em, join ‘em. You and all the PYT’s.

Ranch Dressing

By Ken Ashley

(ATLANTA) September 6th, 2011

Ah, the economic malaise continues. This New York Times article (Fed Divisions Led to a Compromise on Interest Rates) starts with a pulse quickening statement: “No one knows what to do to fix the economy.” With the certainty of uncertainty continuing to be a daily

Yummy

Yummy!

media subject, interest rates are trending near all time lows. Yes, one day, Ethel, it will be ok. The cycle will turn and joblessness will no longer be the headline de jour.

But with all the fun in the economy,  there’s an unintended consequence of this “condition” we are in: bad real estate deals still have life (perhaps it’s an after-life at this point). Low interest rates propped up many a real estate deal in the darkest days of ’09 and ’10.  And now, the low rate party continues right on into the 2011 college football season.

To put this another way, low interest rates cover up bad real estate like ranch dressing covers up a bad salad. Tenants need to be aware that over-leveraged assets supported by unnaturally low interest rates are ticking time bombs. You can certainly make some great deals these days as a credit tenant, but make sure you are doing business with a credit landlord, or else.

Can I Get A Witness?

Several years ago, the presumption was that landlords had great credit. Heck, they own this beautiful building, and the leasing agents look like a million bucks. Now, we advise tenants to perform as much due diligence on the landlord as ownership performs on tenants. Both parties are making an investment in the other. The landlord gets rent; you get improvement dollars and space in which to make your fortune.

Don’t Call Me; I’ll Call You

Checking the asset’s “credit stack” is important at the beginning of the relationship, but every tenant needs to have strong protection during the  lease term as well. Work with your real estate broker and attorney to make sure that you have good language around the landlord’s responsibilities in the lease (it always bugs me that the tenant’s responsibility is many, many paragraphs long, but the landlord’s is two sentences).

Also, work on so-called “self-help” remedies that allow you as the tenant to perform certain landlord functions if ownership doesn’t live up to its end of the bargain. If things go bad during your lease term, you can always sue, but what you really want is a high functioning facility in which to conduct business. While there are very real limitations on what you can and should do as a tenant (as opposed to being an owner), keeping your space operating when the landlord doesn’t perform is vital.

I’m Outta Here

There are other legal devices you should ask your advisors about. One is the very technical sounding “subordination and non-disturbance agreement (“SNDA”).” To sum up an SNDA: you, as tenant, agree to recognize the landlord’s banker if the landlord defaults. The non-disturbance verbage means that the landlord/banker agree to let you keep your lease in force after a default on the building loan. SNDA’s are required by many lenders because if they take the building back, they need to know they can count on you, Mr. Tenant, to keep paying the rent. Just make sure that in return for agreeing to give protections to the lender, you are properly protected by the document.

Perhaps the most important legal issue is the ability to quit the lease if the landlord can’t or won’t do his/her job. Termination provisions for landlord non-performance are not the easiest to negotiate, but if you are a significant tenant

And one more thing, your......

with good credit, you never know what you might get in this market. Besides, it would be a great feeling to tell your non-performing, no good landlord “You’re Fired!” You and The Donald can be one.

So, we hope the Administration, the Fed and the Congress can jump start things, because this economy is simply getting boring. In the meantime, watch out for capital starved landlords, and maybe a little black pepper will help that salad out as well.

Git-R-Done; Time To Move Those Deals Forward

By Ken Ashley

ATLANTA (July 5th, 2011)

Disney’s acclaimed Pixar unit recently released Cars 2 with “co-stars” race-car Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) and tow-truck Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy). In the movie, the characters head to Europe and Japan to compete in the World Grand Prix, but of course get side tracked with all manner of problems, including international espionage.

While the new movie is a hit, we like the original Cars movie better as it’s seemingly innocent humor is classic and truly funny. Our favorite character, Mater, resembles an International Harvester mining “boom-truck” from the 1950’s. The vehicle that is the inspiration for his appearance sits at a diner in the former lead mining town of Galena, Kansas – population of 3,287, which is down from nearly 80,000 in the late 1800’s. The town, appropriately for the original Cars movie setting,  is on the eastern end of the famous Route 66 (You can also take a spin in the 1951 vehicle, the owners proclaim; it still runs!). Back at the diner, you can purchase sandwiches, clay models of Mater, and learn about the plans for a bed and breakfast (we’ll see about that).

Shoot! You're in Radiator Springs, the cutest little town in Carburetor County

Part of Mater’s charm is the personality of comedian Larry the Cable Guy (aka Daniel Whitney),  who speaks with a thick Redneck Southern accent. Larry’s character brings an often hilarious spin, explaining that his name is like “tuh-mater without the tuh,” telling the audience he’s “happier ‘n a tornado in a trailer park,” and proclaiming that

Shucks, you can call me Larry

he’s  the “world’s best backwards driver.” He attributes this skill to his rear-view mirrors and his own”guiding” philosophy: “Don’t need to know where I’m going, just need to know where I’ve been.”

“I knew it! I knowed I made a good choice!”

Mater’s philosophical musings may go a long way to describing the plight of those on the user side of commercial real estate these days. We certainly know where we have been – in one of the best markets for tenants in a generation. But if we keep our focus on the past, we too could end up being the world’s best backwards driver in terms of real estate deals.

As a very insightful article in the latest Real Estate Forum (@RealEstateForum)
entitled a Rebound By Chapters explains, the real estate recovery is happening at different paces in major metros. The piece, by John Jordan, quotes Cushman & Wakefield’s Ken McCarthy, stating that office leasing reached a six year high in the first quarter of 2011. CBRE Econometric Advisor’s Arthur Jones characterizes the current national office market as “weak but stabilized.” Dennis Friedrich of Brookfield, a publicly traded developer and owner with a portfolio of 78 million square feet, believes that the recovery is “sustainable and will lead to single and double digit rent growth in some US cities in the near future.”

Perhaps the biggest indicator of coming office recovery is the appetite that many major investors have. They are putting their money where their mouth is and now have an interest for office product once again. For example, Joe Oglesby of Wells Real Estate says in the article that his company is “planning to have a very active second half of 2011 in terms of buying buildings.” Pay attention when experts in a market start to acquire new assets.

“I tell you what, buddy; it just don’t get better than this.”

For nearly three years now, tenants have experienced a market in which they could take their time in decision making, and have their every demand met by landlords who were very desperate for their business. It’s been a very good time to be on the user side of things and many have deals have made corporate heros of executives who capitalized on depressed conditions.

We are certainly not suggesting that this environment will change immediately, but in certain cities and submarkets we are beginning to see the market tighten. Many make the mistake of thinking that markets have to actually be in recovery for real estate to cost to rise. What actually occurs is that an asset manager feels a sense of optimism (or feels less fearful as it were) based on what he or she perceives is happening. Then the order is issued to  the leasing brokers to be more conservative on the economics and offer lesser concession packages.

Our advice is to move ahead on projects on the board, and in the vernacular of the wise one, Mater, “Git-R-Done.” Lease early, lease often and with flexibility, and be prepared to accelerate the speed of decision making. If you decide to engage in a real estate project, a best practice is to get senior management or your board to approve a set of parameters and let you go get the deal teed up. If they want to look at it one more time before you sign the lease, so be it, but speed is your ally in a recovering real estate market.

The deal is more than the face rate, of course. Keep in mind that many real estate stats quote growth of “asking rental rates.” This is like suggesting a change in the automobile industry based on the sticker price on new vehicles. Clearly there are many factors to consider in a transaction as complicated as a major real estate deal. So while the rental rate may change upward, a good credit tenant that knows what it wants and is prepared to move ahead with reasonable speed can still make a very good deal in most every major market in the United States.

So, unlike our friendly character Mater, look forward not backwards and be aware of the perception as well as the reality of the real estate markets. It’ll make you look like a real estate hot rod!

Lightning McQueen: Will you stop that?
Mater: Stop what?
Lightning McQueen: That driving backwards. It’s creeping me out. You’re gonna wreck or something.
Mater: Wreck? Shoot! I’m the world’s best backwards driver! Just watch this right here, lover boy.

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.