10 tips for your office relocation communications plan

“Change is not a beginning or an endpoint, but instead, is an ongoing process. A process that is sometimes clumsy. But it is also a natural part of how organisations evolve.”

This definition from the Government Communication Service (GSC) highlights how change is part of every day for organisations. As communicators, we have a key role in supporting colleagues throughout their organisation’s change journey.

Carla Ellerby is a Change Communications Manager and content writer living in Sydney, Australia. She recently completed an office move with a large Financial Services organisation, finding new ways to help colleagues feel supported, excited and engaged.

We’re delighted to share Carla’s 10 top tips for creating an office relocation communication plan.

Over to you Carla..

Photo of Carla Ellerby, Change Communications Manager, Sydney, Australia. Title of the image is of the All Things IC blog article '10 tips for your office relocation comms plan'.

10 tips for your office relocation communication plan

As organisations worldwide grapple with their future workplace strategy, many look to downsize or rethink their office spaces to better support innovation, collaboration and community.

Here are ten tips to support employees through an office relocation.

1. Know the benefits

To understand the benefit of the move to employees, you need to talk to them first. What do people like about coming into the office now? What would make them want to go into the new office more? An employee survey or a series of focus groups can help with this.

You’ll probably uncover that the main reason people want to come into the office post-pandemic is to be with other people.

Consider the business benefits of the move. Does it save money? Does it provide a better space for clients? Are the new digs better suited to the brand?

2. Understand the barriers

As important as knowing the benefits is understanding the barriers.

Do people feel they can be more productive at home? Are they reluctant to travel?

Now you’re clear on the benefits and barriers to the business and employees you can shape your key messages.

3. Prepare a multi-channel comms plan

Map out a regular drumbeat of communications across available channels. Communicate early with a clear timeline, so people feel prepared. Paint a picture of the future.

It’s a good idea to create a dedicated source of truth on the company intranet or app.

Include:

  • Timelines
  • Floorplans
  • Photos and video of the new site
  • Who’s who on the relocation team
  • FAQ
  • Precinct information including parking, transport and facilities

Distribute a regular email newsletter with updates. Increase the frequency as the move approaches.

Tap into existing channels and events to reiterate information and make important announcements.

Use appropriate leaders as your spokespeople. If the CEO signed off on this move, they should be able to talk about why. Can you film them touring the new office in a hard hat?

Use the channels available within the new office. Signage within different spaces is a great way to educate people on how to use facilities and resources.

4. Communicate with empathy

Change communication must always be clear, concise, relatable and authentic. With every change comes bumps. Being upfront about the experience ahead is the only way to prepare, support and set expectations.

But also keep talking about the benefits and the good things coming.

Look for advocates who can talk about the benefits from their own experience.

5. Bring leaders in early

If an employee comes into the new office and finds their team meetings are still virtual, they might not be keen to come back again.

This highlights the importance of agreed days in the office and engaged leadership.

Whether it’s a quarterly day in the office or five days a week is down to the nature of different teams and organisations. Facilitate conversations with leaders early so they can work through the best solution for their teams and the business. Then arm leaders with the resources they need to embody the new way of working.

6. Recruit Change Champions

Change Champions are instrumental to a successful change program. They disperse critical information about the move across their teams. They also bubble up concerns and sentiment.

Bring your Change Champs together frequently. Share information and discuss what they need to make the move successful for their teams. Let them talk. Listen.

You can find out more about How to work with Change Champions in Season Two, Episode Six of the Candid Comms podcast.

7. Set teams up for ongoing success

Once the dust has settled, the boxes are unpacked and the dirty cups are stacking up in the sink, the relocation team may have moved on.

Work habits will evolve. Help set people up for success by facilitating cross-functional team conversations before the move.

You can support teams by defining and communicating guidelines around the best use of the spaces and resources.

Be clear with everyone that the relocation team won’t be around forever. Get teams to agree early on how they’ll share spaces and resolve issues once they’ve moved.

8. Listen and respond

Provide a way for people to give feedback, ask questions, and raise concerns. You could do this by:

  • Build time for Q&A into events and meetings
  • Create a dedicated project email address
  • Include feedback channels on all comms
  • Host two-way conversations on internal social media channels

9. Hold events

In-person events generate buzz and remind people about the benefits of coming together.

Consider:

  • A hands-on employee expo showcasing the new office experience
  • Pre-move tours of the new office
  • Packing up party with pizza
  • Housewarming events after the move

10. Curate a supportive ‘Day One’ experience

A few years ago, ‘Day One’ in a new office would’ve been just that – one big day where most people come in. But in a time of hybrid work, it’s a marathon not a sprint. ‘Day One’ lasts a couple of weeks.

You can create a supportive Day One experience with:

  • Leaders welcoming people on arrival
  • Support staff (including tech) onsite for two weeks (this might include your Change Champs)
  • CEO welcome video shared on the first day
  • Welcome gifts
  • Celebratory events to bring teams together
  • Welcome messages on signage
  • Daily tours of new facilities
  • Drop-in tech sessions
  • Project email or posts to share updates

The measure of success

There’s no magic formula for the future of work. Each organisation will have conversations about what’s working and what isn’t for years to come.

But with hybrid work here to stay, it’s clear the role of the office has fundamentally changed.

The office is an opportunity for connection, collaboration and community. All these things can lift retention and grow a healthy workplace culture with employee wellbeing at the heart.

With benefits like that, a solid change communication program to support your relocation is well worth the effort.

Thank you Carla for sharing your tips. You can connect with Carla through LinkedIn or via her website, Composed Communication.

Need support with your change communication?

If you’re involved in change communication, book a spot on our Change Communication Masterclass on 8 March 2023 at the All Things IC Hub in London.

You’ll leave with practical skills and confidence to:

  • Understand change communication theory
  • Examine the role of the modern senior communicator and their team when communicating change
  • Ask for advice with your change communication needs
  • Know how other people communicate change including restructures, office moves and much more
  • Analyse communication methods, including planning and stakeholders.

Book your spot today.

If you can’t join us in person, these All Things IC resources are available to help when it comes to communicating change:

Post author: Dan Holden.

First published on the All Things IC blog 16 December 2022.

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