Three-minute postcard: Moving Sucks. Got Change Management for It?

Corporate moves and office redesigns cause stress and a loss of productivity, but they are fast becoming a way of life in today’s VUCA world. How can you use good change management to mitigate the downside of your next move?

Well, here’s five change management techniques to help take the suck out of moving:

  1. Make sure your leaders get it
  2. Don’t be scared to give people choice
  3. Don’t forget your other stakeholders!
  4. Provide visible and responsive support
  5. Play a little game to engage people
 Need a little more detail? No worries, just take a read…

 

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Moving sucks. We all know it. We all dread it. But we don’t seem to realize it sucks just as much when it happens at work – and it really does: workplace moves and office redesigns cause emotional turmoil.  This is not only because as human beings we’re wired to dislike change in general, but also because workplace relocations create other stressors, too. For instance, people might worry that the new location won’t have the amenities they are used to. If they are moving offsite, they might wonder if they will lose status or influence without daily contact with the main campus. Or they might worry about where they’ll park. Where they’ll eat lunch. About how much longer their commute will be. Many people fear losing their cube for open workspaces — particularly having to put away their personal belongings and sit at a new place every day. They’re worried about losing control.

And that stress can lead to decreased job satisfaction, which leads to productivity declines, loss of top talent, and potential customer impacts. But the thing is… workplace redesigns and corporate relocations are a fact of life in today’s VUCA world.

This means you may want to think about the next five things the next time you move:

  1. Make sure your leaders get how hard it is. Since leaders know the good business case for a move, they sometimes have a little trouble recognizing the downside. Or worse, they think people should just get on the bus already. But you’ll get much better results if your leaders recognize the real productivity impact of the move – from hundreds of employees being late because of a new commute, to too many people venting around the water cooler. Show those leaders why they should care. Point out the value of proactively managing the change. Show them the productivity losses and attrition risks. Because if they aren’t with you, they may work against you. Trust us on that.
  2. Don’t be scared to give your employees choice. Nobody likes feeling like they have no power over their environment – and nothing makes us feel quite so powerless as being told to uproot our little comfortable place at work for an unknown future. Empower them by giving them controlled choices. Think about creative ways that you can give them choice in the design process. Arrange a physical walkthrough of their new space, and let them chose their options. Do they want a standing desk, or a sitting desk? What colors do they want? Do they like to sit with their backs to a wall? You may not be able to offer all these examples, but any choice will make them more
    excited about their future digs.
  3. Don’t forget your other stakeholders! Your job doesn’t stop with the people that are actually moving. Think about the people ‘left behind’ for a moment. They may have a bit of survivor’s guilt that they get to stay in the comfy old place while others get a longer commute. They may be jealous of the slick new spaces. Or they might have separation anxiety about their work friends disappearing. Plus, working remotely is different than stepping into the next office to chat with someone. You’ve got to equip them with new ways to collaborate, such as technology for remote conferencing, and possibly even a shuttle service between locations.
  4. Provide visible and responsive move support. Your job is to make the move easier emotionally as well as physically. Think about:
    Before: Use engagement activities to help people embrace the change. Provide powerful visuals of the new building. Create a video. Use social media. Assign people to help figure out commutes. Throw a kick-off event. Reduce surprises. During: Name ambassadors to help people get to their desks the first day. Get vendors to help set desks and monitors up. Put someone in a room who can answer questions, from “where’s the nearest coffee shop?”, to “how do I find copy paper?”, to “how do I use this new conferencing technology?”
    After: Don’t stop there. Make your ambassadors available for several months. Train someone from each team to be on-call for questions, feedback, and suggestions.
  5. Make it engaging (in a meaningful way). Now throw in a game or two. No, we don’t mean softball at the company picnic. Develop creative ways to reward people for doing activities that are meaningful to the change effort. Need people to test their new commute so you don’t have 300 people showing up late the first day? Want people to explore the new neighborhood so they feel a sense of community? Make these actions worth points in a game with great prizes (which can be anything from the newest tech gizmo to getting to name a conference room). All you have to do is get a few people excited about the move, and the tide will begin to shift.

Got it? Excellent.

Let the campus-warming begin!

Missed the first six parts of the series?

Part 5.2: so you’ve got a people strategy. um, now what?
Part 5: your people are where it’s at. but do you have a people strategy for them?
Part 4: how to make sure your structure is built for good, not evil.
Part 3: a culture-powered strategy eats pretty much anything it wants – like the competition.
Part 2: it’s better to be aligned to an OK strategy than to have a great strategy that nobody’s aligned to.
Part 1: toto, we’re not in a high-growth economy anymore.


PeopleFirm is a management and HR consulting firm dedicated to helping you achieve that ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. We focus on effective tools, measurable outcomes, real results, and getting your people out of their seats and engaged in your company’s growth.

We use people strategy, talent management, organizational performance, and change management, to help you partner with your people to build an organization that excels in today’s new world of work. People are your last competitive frontier. Make them count.

Your people = your success.