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Moving Your Business? Keep Employees Well Informed

Moving Your Business? Keep Employees Well Informed

Moving is widely considered one of life's most stressful events — and that's just going from one residence to another. Imagine moving an entire company! Yet, every so often, it must be done.

For both owners and employees, moving is difficult. There's packing and unpacking while your staff tries to carry on with business as usual — all the while facing the prospect of losing documents, digital files, or customers. Lost time and productivity are usually inevitable, but they can be minimized.

To do so, you've got to prepare carefully and keep your staff in the loop as much as possible during the moving process. When a company communicates with its employees about a move to a new location, workers are more apt to feel like they're part of the plan — and less likely to feel resentful and that the move is an imposition on them.

Here are a few tips to help make the transition as stress-free as possible:

Plan Far Ahead

Involve your employees in making a list of the pros and cons of relocation to help everyone understand the need for the move and what it'll accomplish. Consider seasonal factors that may affect your business and the timing of the move.

Generally, the optimal time to move is over a weekend. Hence, you have time to install and troubleshoot the technology and ensure essential equipment functions properly before your next business day. Any downtime would occur over Saturday and Sunday, thus minimally affecting employees, customers, and vendors. (This assumes your business isn't typically operational on weekends.)

Consider the move's expense and whether employees will be involved in physically moving any equipment or documentation. Employees may be able to help transport certain items, potentially lessening the cost of a moving company. However, you must put safety first and not risk injuries. You'll also need to consider whether you want to make unusual demands on employees' schedules, such as asking them to come in on a weekend to move stuff. Address these questions during the earliest planning phases.

Consider Upgrades

Relocating is an excellent opportunity to upgrade equipment. If you're still using old monitors, for example, donate them and buy better screens. Consider the possibility of new or upgraded software. You may want to rent some laptops while renovating or setting up your new surroundings.

Create Move Teams

Choose employees to lead teams to manage specific areas involved in the move, such as:

  • New office furniture and equipment procurement
  • Information technology transition
  • Company communications (both internal and external)
  • Color-coding boxes
  • Plants and decorating
  • Employee relocation, if required
  • Budget and expense approval

Many businesses put department managers in charge of their moving budgets and funnel each one's expenses through a budget manager. However you decide to handle it, tracking and managing costs is critical. If spending starts to get out of control, you need to be able to step in and stop the bleeding.

Schedule Field Trips

If your staff is small enough, take groups of employees to the new site so they can get a feel for the new digs. Doing so will make the ultimate move much easier because staff members can envision where they'll be. You can make field trips in groups of five or six employees at a time so there's an opportunity for them to ask questions and for you to mitigate problems as early as possible. More than likely, everyone will want to know exactly where they'll be located and what amenities will be offered at the new location.

Take Photos

If you're building or renovating the space, share pictures of the project on the company intranet, via email, or on physical bulletin boards around the office so employees can keep track of progress. Post an architectural rendering if the facility has yet to be built.

Start a Countdown

As the project nears completion, give employees a firm idea of when the move will occur. Send weekly emails to let them know that moving day is coming. Let them know about any delays as soon as possible. Doing so helps employees prepare mentally, physically, and professionally for the move. They can begin cleaning, packing, finishing up projects, and contacting customers and vendors (more on this below).

Anticipate Downtime

Moving often involves an element of unpredictability; delays can happen and often do. Notify all the people you do business with — from customers to vendors to professional advisors to consultants — that your business activity may be somewhat limited or slower than usual for a day or two.

With solid planning and ample employee involvement, business relocation can be relatively painless, but some modicum of productivity can be maintained. As mentioned, don't expect perfection, but you'll likely be rewarded if you're well-prepared.

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