There are a number of factors that could cause your organisation to relocate: a talent shortage in the area; a growth spurt that sees the need for larger premises; political factors, like Brexit, that necessitate new sites in other countries; or simply a need to control costs. Whatever the reason, during a relocation it goes without saying that there’s a lot for the HR function to consider if the relocation is to be successful. Let’s take a look at the key steps to any relocation from an HR perspective.
The first step in the process is to create a full office relocation project management plan. This plan will define the roadmap for the move, allowing key stakeholders to see key dates, tasks and responsibilities. This will help organisations decide, among other things, who is in charge of which phases of the relocation, when a new site will need to be found by, and what steps are needed to get it ready for the arrival of employees.
The plan should also include a budget. This shouldn’t simply detail the costs of the move itself – rental or acquisition costs of the new site, refurbishment, employee relocation costs, and so on. Ideally the budget should also be able to estimate the impact on productivity of the move – and demonstrate anticipated time-to-value of the move.
It’s going to be important to double check everything at this stage to make sure you’ve covered everything off in your plan. Avoiding mistakes at this point of the relocation can make for a smoother transition, and can allow for a more agile reaction to anything unexpected that crops up. It can be helpful to consult a third party with experience of relocation projects to make sure that nothing has been missed.
“41% of people haven’t been communicated to about Brexit plans by their organisation” *
The moment the relocation starts in earnest, HR will need to ensure that people across your organisation are communicated with clearly and regularly. It’s a good idea to create a communication plan that details communications around key milestones. Effective communications can help put employees’ minds at ease; the relocation may not be seen positively by the people within your organisation, and those directly affected will likely be concerned about the change. Regular communications via email, and in person – either at workshops or one-to-one meetings – will help you ensure that those employees affected by the relocation understand exactly how it will impact them and what their options are going forward. As a result, they’ll likely remain more engaged and productive during the process, and – if they are moving as part of the relocation – they’re more likely to settle quickly into their role once the relocation is complete.
It’s also essential to communicate with the wider organisation – not just those directly affected by the relocation. People notice how your organisation treats its employees, and even if some employees aren’t being affected by the move, if they see those who are affected in a state of confusion and worry, their productivity and morale could also decline.
It takes time to build an effective communications plan– and once built, the plan needs to be delivered in a positive and compassionate manner. Some organisations rely on the support of an outsourced relocation partner to help them get their communications right, tapping into years of experience of putting together and delivering communication plans to ensure this critical step of the relocation is successful.
As your organisation works through the relocation process, HR will need to work hard to keep employees motivated. If the relocation is causing redundancies, it’s possible that outplacement services will help keep those leaving your organisation motivated – and improve the morale of your organisation as a whole.
For those moving employees staying with the organisation, your communication plan will play a large part in keeping them motivated. Alongside that, practical workshops and coaching to help individuals and teams function post-relocation could be a big help. For instance, if people are moving to a new site abroad you could run a workshop to help employees learn about the new area, or assist them with learning a new language, and provide access to information about housing or schools to help reduce anxiety about the move.
Keeping employees motivated can often be tricky, even if it’s just a simple move to a new office. Bringing in external support can help you effectively deliver activities and projects to improve motivation, such as workshops, coaching and other factors. As well as ensuring these activities are delivered to a high standard, external support can free up internal HR resource to work on other issues, either relating to the relocation or more pressing day-to-day tasks.
During the relocation process it’s important to regularly take stock of how your organisation is performing against plan. This will enable your organisation to make mid-course corrections if needed to keep things on track, ultimately improving the success of the process as a whole. It’s also important at the end of the relocation to review how the process went. Referring back to the office relocation project management plan will allow organisations to pinpoint where any mistakes were made, highlight successes, and catalogue those learnings for the future.
External partners with experience in helping organisations through relocations, such as Connor, know what a good move will look like. Working with them as part of your review process means you can use their knowledge and experience to make your review much more effective.
*Statistic taken from recent Connor twitter poll