Unwired Ventures returns on 6 December with a day-long event tackling the dreaded office move. Re3: Relocation, Refurbish, Reinvent will examine the pros and cons of both moving offices or revamping existing premises. There will be morning and afternoon sessions and attendees will hear from interior designers, workplace strategists and facilities directors. The event will take place at Gardiner and Theobald’s new offices in central London.
Forget the desk; what about my snacks!
By Antonia Mitchell and Luke Connoley, UNWIRED
They say the two most stressful things in life are getting married and moving.
But imagine how much worse it could be: you’re not just moving yourself and your family, but moving a whole office with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people. People who are used to the way things are, who may not want to move, and who will all have their own concerns and needs….Marriage? That’s a breeze in comparison!
There are so many things to worry about, figuring out where to start can be just the first hurdle. What work-style will you be implementing? How much collaborative and meeting space will you need? What technology will future-proof your new offices? And how are you going to get the employees to engage with the idea, from the initial planning to the final bedding-in? And while you’re focusing on the big issues, you still can’t neglect the “little” things.
In preparation for Re3 2011 (6 December, Gardiner & Theobald, London), we’ve been discussing this issue with facilities and property staff who’ve completed major moves.
One facilities manager described how salty snacks became an issue during an office merger: in one of the two offices, the employer provided crisps and fresh fruit. The other did not have any provision for treats. During the pre-move consultations, many employees listed the snack issue as an area of concern – were they still going to get fed? It sounds so minor when compared to the major issues (like the building, design, furniture and fit-out, the location and commuting time, the technology, or the work-style), but it was something people got concerned about.
This example only demonstrates the importance of the project leaders and executives putting themselves firmly in the employees’ shoes, and providing information that’s specific to each individual.
Exactly how will the move affect journey times and commutes? What will the daily experience of the new office feel like? If the organisation is implementing flexible working (with no assigned desks), where will employees keep their family photos and gadgets?
We’ve witnessed some great solutions, such as setting up a sample pod in the old premises, mimicking the new layout and design. Employees were encouraged to immerse themselves in the new “workplace”, try out the furniture, and get a real feel for what the new office would be like. It can work a treat: once the employees could really experience the new space, rather than trying to visualise from an artist’s rendition, they often feel less anxious and more positive about the change.
So what are your experiences of getting the workforce engaged with your office move or refurbishment? We’d love to hear your stories – email [email protected], or tweet #2011re3, and we’ll look forward to seeing you in December.