HR BLOG: Moving offices?

Whether by choice or necessity, moving location can be an exciting time… and a bit of a nightmare!

Whether it’s your first office and you plan on employing your first staff, or you’ve outgrown your current space and need an upgrade, or even if you’re downsizing to a smaller premises, you need to get it right. Needless to say amidst the excitement comes a Pandora’s Box of operational, administrative and HR issues. You’ll need to prepare for these.

Here’re just some of the HR considerations you’ll need to account for in your plans.

1. The ones that don’t want to move

When you move, the journeys that staff take to and from work will change. Some commutes may shorten, and others may lengthen. For those with longer and potentially more expensive journeys, the move may not be popular. Having the right mobility clause in your contracts should protect you, allowing you to move with your staff without issue, as long as the move is within the limits outlined, and isn’t deemed totally unreasonable. Many corporates put mobility clauses into contracts that demand national and or even international moves. If an employee disputes the relocation, please seek advice.

The key to preventing a dispute is to keep staff in the loop of your plans well in advance, and ensure they have time available to make adjustments or provide feedback. Good internal communication will be crucial!

2. Getting the little things right

Seating plans, losing a rest room, having a smaller desk, being too close to the kitchen, not having a window…

Just a few things there that can change your staff’s attitude about the move. Talk to your team and make sure you’ve got their needs covered, but only within reason (no, beer fridges aren’t reasonable!) as this will prevent sourness bubbling up post move. Think carefully about where staff are placed and what they have to work with, as things will go a whole lot smoother.

3. Productivity

A small drop before the move is to be expected, as staff clear their desks and sort through what to keep and what to chuck. This is where you learn who are the ruthless thrower-outers and who are the inveterate hoarders – if you didn’t know already! A good strategy is to bite the bullet and get this done by Friday for a weekend move, so when staff arrive on the Monday you’re ready for business.

If you’re putting off a move fearing a productivity hit, think again. A new environment can give employees the fresh start they need to break old cycles and bad habits. Lots of businesses post move are surprised by the sudden surge in productivity. The trick is to make sure you’re in a position to harness it, to do that you need a…

4. …Smooth transition

In a fresh new office your team are raring to get going, but can they? If the internet isn’t working and the phone lines are down for too long, you’ll leave customers in the dark and your team will be stuck twiddling their thumbs or searching for a lost file for hours.  To the best of your ability get everything ready for that Monday for a truly seamless move. Truthfully its unlikely to be perfect, just like moving house, but you can but try!

5. Health and safety!

A new premises needs to be fully compliant with health and safety. Your staff need to know where the fire exits are, where extinguishers are, the assembly point for a fire alarm, where the first aid kit is, have a new computer assessment and know who their Health and Safety contact is. The safety of your staff is your number one priority, so in the excitement of the move leaving this to the last minute could be disastrous. The HR Dept can help you here.

6. Finally, get the team excited!

Yeah, there’ll be boxes to pack and sorting to do but hey! A new office opens up a world of opportunities, and your employees should get excited about this. Give your team the chance to pitch their ideas for the new space as their input will both ensure the new workplace works for them and drum up the enthusiasm needed to make it run smoothly.

This list isn’t exhaustive but it does give you six key considerations to focus your planning on. If you’re ever unsure, seek professional advice from The HR Dept.

Alison Schreiber runs The HR Dept Durham and Darlington franchise, and works with a number of businesses across PBP. For more info, visit HR Dept Durham and Darlington or call Alison on 01325 526036 or 07535 853226.