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Moving on

02 December 2015

Coping strategies differ among individuals involved in office and business relocations. What is the best psychological approach to ensure these individuals relocate with as little disruption to themselves and the business?

“A move or relocation is widely considered to be one of the top three life changing events that can bring uncertainty and added stress to individuals, therefore, organisations need to get the best outcome from an office move to ensure their people and business continue to thrive,” says Kathy Hope, national account manager, Anabas.

Hope is a senior workplace and FM professional, Hope has more than 25 years’ experience managing buildings, workplace projects, contracts, people and budgets across Europe. This has included various corporate relocations and office moves with a range of different drivers.

“There’s no standard formula that defines the best psychological approach for an office move, but there are a lot of simple things that we can do an as FMs to help smooth the journey and minimise the disruption of a move,” says Hope.

A relocation is often a great opportunity for new ways of working, so it’s important to give employees moving a chance to influence some of the decisions, Hope says. “By holding focus groups with a good cross-section of those moving and getting involvement on some decisions, this helps people to feel part of the process and creates a more positive outlook on the move. For example, by allowing employees to choose the colour scheme for the restaurant or the furniture for any shared or communal spaces, this gives them an input into their resulting surroundings.” 

With the information age that we now live in, new technologies are now enabling businesses to vividly model and visualise their new workspace down to the smallest detail, Hope explains. “This can support orientation tours ahead of the move in addition to any physical tours.  Some companies are even using drone technology to film their new surroundings.

“The reality is that as humans we naturally have a fear of the unknown, so anything which allows people to see, feel, or touch the new space can provide a welcome taste of what they can expect.  This creates a sense of anticipation, excitement and an overall positive vibe in relation to a forthcoming office move.”  

Hope says timing is crucial and will be determined by the specific circumstances of the business and its industry. For example, she points out, there are key times of year for any business which may prove problematic, such as financial year end, although this is the kind of detail that can often be overlooked with real consequences for the business.

“As far as possible the physical relocations should be done outside of normal business hours to minimise any disruption. For many businesses today though, particularly those with global operations and teams servicing clients in various time zones, this creates a small window for the move of specific individuals.” 

It’s not rocket science and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to ensuring the right conditions for creating a positive psyche and minimising disruption in relation to an office move. “As with so many things, it’s about tailoring,” Hope says.

“FM teams involved in or tasked with managing an office move must ask the right questions and engage the right people throughout the process. With expert planning, positive ongoing communication, impeccable timing and an eye for detail, which is fully tuned into the organisation’s needs and the specific needs of individuals, a successful relocation can be achieved. If the business sees positive changes as a result then surely this should be the acid test for any relocation?”

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