Deciding how to communicate with stakeholders during your office relocation is crucial. With multiple channels at your fingertips, using a variety of tools ensures that everyone takes on board what they need to know. Don’t forget that people digest information in different ways.
Some people are visual and prefer information to be communicated through images and graphics. Others prefer learning by hearing someone explain something. Another group prefers to touch and feel things.
Likewise, everyone reacts to an office move differently. Some people love change and will wholeheartedly embrace it and others will go with the flow. But some people will feel anxious about it. You need to appeal to all these different audiences.
These the most effective ways to communicate office relocations:
1/ Set up a microsite which acts as the main repository of information about the move. Include a meaty FAQs section to cover everything and anything you can think of. Add the questions people ask to the FAQs as it is likely that someone else will want to know the answers. Direct all other forms of communication to the microsite.
2/ Regular newsletters – email and hard copy – are great ways to share the latest updates. Hard copies are particularly useful for people who may not have a company email address, such as front-line staff.
3/ Company screensavers can be a great way to share images of the new office space, building plans, architect’s impression and layouts, and maps of the local area. Update them weekly to keep everything fresh and embed a hyperlink to the microsite so that people can easily find additional information
4/ While much of the communication will be digital, the power of physical tools such as posters and table-talkers should not be underestimated. Posters placed in lifts, on the back of loo doors and in tea points – places where people are usually twiddling their thumbs – can be great ways of sharing information. Table-talkers on staff restaurant tables are also good conversation starters. Make sure these are changed regularly to keep them fresh and engaging. Consider the use of interesting stats and facts about the move/ refurb to attract attention
5/ Mood boards located in a central space are useful ways to engage people in the relocation or refurbishment. Involving staff in decisions around carpets, colours and furniture makes them feel more engaged and happier with the end result. Having samples of the new furniture, particularly chairs, allows everyone to try out any new equipment
6/ Many employees will want to hear the reasons for the move from a senior person. Organising regular open forums or town hall meetings around the company to answer questions and address concerns about the move will help to support people through the change management programme. It’s a great chance to explain the rationale for the move, present design ideas and keep people updated. These can also be videoed and shared on the microsite and social channels
7/ Where possible, arrange regular tours of the new site for as many staff as possible so that they can see first-hand what’s happening. A tour is an effective way of engaging stakeholders in the run-up to the change. If it’s a lengthy project, several tours at different stages will help maintain momentum and keep morale high
8/ Talking-head videos with the CEO or other board members explaining the rationale for the project, and providing significant updates, are easy ways to share key messages without the leadership team having to travel around several sites. The CEO videoed in a hard hat on site is even better. These can also be shared on the microsite, in e-newsletters and on social channels to reach people who might not be able to attend a town hall. Other options include videos of the project manager interviewing the CEO about the project, or the architect or fit-out company being involved
9/ Timelapse videos of the development/new office space as it comes together can be shared in e-newsletters, on the microsite and on social. 3D walkarounds in the new space are also useful
10/ Many companies use social media to communicate internally either through tools such as Facebook or through private forums like Yammer. These platforms should always be included in any communication plan. Where there are staff forums for discussion, make sure these are carefully monitored and immediate feedback to any questions or concerns is given
11/ Move champions can communicate on a one-to-few basis within teams. By cascading key information to move champions and giving them the right communication tools, they can share it in turn with their teams and departments, allowing for instant feedback to the project team
12/ It’s important to listen as much as you talk. Employees will have ideas for the new space and working groups are great ways to engage people and bring them into the project. If run properly, by the comms team with input from the other functions, these are effective for getting input into the new office design and layout. While you won’t be able to accommodate all of their wishes, at least you’ll understand what they want, and their concerns, and be able to explain why you can’t deliver everything
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