What is it like to communicate an office move? What do you need to do and how should you plan?

Next week Energy UK will move office from the Regent Street home the association, in one form or another, has had for over 18 years to a new base in the Moorgate area.

I’m delighted to welcome Abbie Sampson, @abbie_sampson, Director of External Affairs at Energy UK to the All Things IC blog. She’s shared what the company has been doing ahead of their move here in London.

If you are planning something similar, this article will help you plan as Abbie has revealed the process they’ve been through and what you can learn.

Further reading on the All Things IC blogHow to Communicate Office Moves.

I’ll hand you over…

How to communicate an office move effectively

In the current financial climate in the energy sector, our new offices will deliver important efficiencies yet from an employee experience perspective, our new space will also be a revolution in the way we work.

We will have new collaboration areas, an improved event space and an office that will foster flexible, collaborative and agile working helping us work in a more integrated and cross-organisational way.

But it has been a long process to get to this point and we have invested a lot of energy (pun not intended!) into ensuring good internal communications because taking your staff with you in an office move requires more than just packing boxes.

The beginning
We started back in 2016 when we had no idea of where we would be moving to – and crucially also no idea about how staff felt about a move or how it might impact them.

So, rule number one: don’t assume you know what people want – ask them.

Since then we have held a number of all-staff meetings and smaller workshops and conducted an all-staff survey seeking views on everything from the sort of facilities people value in a workplace to the potential impact four shortlisted areas on travel times and work/life balance.

While we couldn’t promise to meet everyone’s wish list (indoor running track and office pooch anyone?) it was an important step to understanding what was really important to people – from practical things like IT & tech to broader well-being considerations.

We also worked with space consultants, WK.space, to gain a better understanding of how we use our office areas and the sort of space we actually need.

Two-way communication
Throughout the whole process we have been keen to ensure as much face-to-face and two-way communication as possible, and we committed to giving everyone timely and regular updates, with honest and accurate information.  Our new intranet has also been key to this, as well as close liaison with our internal staff working group.

We soon developed a better understanding of our business need and, following a fantastic session with Rachel Miller on internal communications, we were able to develop a plan for before, during and after the move. This crowd-sourced office move checklist from The IC Crowd was a really useful planning tool.

One of the first steps was to create a new ‘News on the Move’ hub on our intranet where we ensured all information was up-to-date and captured updates from any all-staff meetings to ensure messages and information also reached those not in the office, for example those who were absent or working remotely.

We were lucky to have an in-house designer who created a visual identity to our ‘News on the Move’ hub which ran through all our communications to pull communications together and reflect our values (integrity, communication and professionalism).

We were also able to share images and videos from the new site to enable staff to visualise the new office and prepare for the move, as well as sharing images from the designer to help create excitement around our new workspace and facilities.

We also had a dedicated email address – and a good old-fashioned box in our kitchen – where people could ask questions about the move which fed into a FAQ session at an all-staff meeting, and latterly lived on our intranet so it could be regularly updated.

It was important to listen to any concerns people had and recognise emotional as well as practical considerations.

And as the move got closer, we provided weekly updates hosted on our intranet which included details of everything from the new phone and meeting room systems, the floor plan and clean desk policy as well as practical information on the move logistics.

We also had tech from the new office – like our new phone handsets and the ‘hot boxes’ people would be using, in the office so people could familiarise themselves and try them out before the move.

A new area guide was created for staff to get to know the new area, including useful information on local facilities – from the nearest cashpoints and cafes to pubs and post offices. We also have a checklist for all staff for those final few days in the office – covering what to pack, when and how, plus some practical details for leaving the office of the last day and what to do on day one at our new HQ.

While our staff are a key stakeholder for engagement around our office move, it was also important not to forget our external audiences – and importantly, our members. We created a suite of social media collateral – from infographics for social media use to email signatures for use before and after the move to ensure people were aware we were moving and had the new address well in advance.

We also created an accessible information leaflet for internal and external audiences which includes an area map with transport links, an office layout as well as information on health and safety, office etiquette and practical information like how to book meeting rooms and our IT support which – even with the best laid plans – someone (probably me!) will no doubt need on Day One.

This leaflet will form an integral part of our Day One Welcome Pack which all staff will have on their desk on arrival. They will also receive an Energy UK-branded water bottle to mark our commitment to the environment and ban on single-use plastics in our new office and at our events.

So, as we load up our packing crates and look ahead to the big move next week, I am proud of our preparations so far and hope that our internal communications and engagement to date means that, rather than feeling uncertain over what to expect, the Energy UK team are feeling well-prepared for the move and are looking forward to our new offices and the benefits it will bring.

Post author: Abbie Sampson.

Thank you very much for sharing your insights Abbie, best of luck with the move.

Further reading: How to communicate office moves

First published on the All Things IC blog 25 July 2018.

Disclosure: All Things IC has the pleasure of working with Energy UK.

Learn more about internal communication

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