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Five Tips on Communicating an Office Move Effectively

Imagine you’re an employee days away from an office move. Company representatives are too busy to offer details beyond the address and the move date. You don’t even know if you’ll get a box for your folders, pens and floundering potted plant.

Helping companies navigate office moves is a significant part of ESD’s business. It saved Kraft Heinz six figures in costs when the Fortune 500 juggernaut moved to the Aon Center in Chicago from Northfield and provided critical stewardship to Motorola Mobility during its move to the Merchandise Mart. But our 51-year-old firm faced a challenge when engaged in its own move recently to the iconic Willis Tower: What was the best way to keep nearly 300 employees informed about how their desks would change, what they should do with their voluminous files and designs, what important dates they should be aware of and more?

Through a biweekly e-mail campaign that started six months before the move – one engineered by executives and the marketing team – we ensured employees would be excited rather than stressed about leaving their familiar space only a block away from the new digs.

Here are five tips to communicate an office move effectively to employees:

  1. Explain to employees why you’re moving. Though you may be tempted to explain that “we got a once-in-a-lifetime deal” or something similar, employees will be more impressed if there is a long-term strategy behind such a major disruption. In our first major e-mail of the campaign, in a simple, straightforward manner, we laid out our reasons to move: To develop an office space that helps ESD attract and retain top talent and to create an environment that fosters innovation and offers opportunities for learning.
  2. Highlight the benefits for employees. As loyal as employees may be to a firm, they also want to know: What’s in it for me? We pointed out, unlike the current office, new motorized sit/stand desks would allow employees to adjust their work surface between 22 inches and 48 inches to meet individual needs and preferences. We pointed out how by implementing two green-certification strategies, the new workplace at Willis Tower would be as healthy as possible for everybody.
  3. Give the employees ownership in the move. Not only did we solicit suggestions for names for the new conference rooms via our e-mails, we directed employees to a test work space and let them vote on their favorite desk chair for the new space.
  4. Build employee excitement through photos. After a company-wide meeting at the Willis Tower long before the move, employees were invited to walk the empty office space. Nearly all of our e-mails featured photos of construction progress so they could share in the excitement of what was coming. Photos also showed what pieces of office equipment needed to be labeled and the like, simple but essential components of a smooth move.
  5. Keep employees abreast of changes. This part can easily be overlooked, but employees need to know before the move when a conference room’s audio-visual capabilities, for example, are being moved to the new space.

It is important for office morale to have employee buy-in on a decision as big as an office move. Through our communications strategy, we believe we convinced employees that – even if their commute ended up a little longer or if they were fans of our century-old former space – they would be happier and more productive in one of the world’s most widely recognized buildings