With high complexity and the potential to cost a lot of money, it’s fair to say an office move is the kind of job you need to do right the first time. As Facility Manager (FM), your ability to understand and employ change management concepts will determine your success in achieving a smooth and efficient workplace transition. How you plan and manage is as important as how you physically action it: from costs and square footage to feedback from your fellow co-workers, move-related tasks have a way of piling up quickly.
The idea of moving office can instil an overwhelming sense of dread to even the most confident Facilities Manager because as an FM you understand the complexities of an office move and also the fact that it’s something you need to get correct on the first go. The concepts of Change Management lend themselves well to Move Management and your understanding of these concepts will determine your success. With this article we hope to help you avoid many of the pitfalls associated with moving an office.
You need to talk to your IT Department
We all love technology and we all equally rely on it and fear it letting us down! The gatekeepers of technology in every workplace are the always approachable IT Department. The IT Team will want this to run smoothly and it’s important to connect with the team early and align with them on a regular basis. With a move to a new premise there will be some unavoidable issues and challenges, but getting IT involved early can help identify those challenges along with ways to overcome them.
Take them through the plan, show them the new building and give them an overview of what you are thinking will be the new setup. Get a snag list off them and fix any issues they have, then ensure that they sign off on your plan and take ownership of that aspect of the move, then let them do their jobs.
Communication, Communication, Communication!
It may seem obvious but a lack of communication is where every project falls apart; remember everyone is busy doing their own jobs and unless you keep required people in the loop, they’ll assume they’re not needed and can return to their own mountain of emails.
Keeping staff in the loop is a great way to avoid confusion and promote an inclusive mentality; it also makes them feel part of the project. At Acacia we use many different Project Management tools, like MS Project, Planner or Trello as some of these also allow quick reporting features and even the ability for staff to add requests and raise issues directly. This tactic is used by many software development companies – it allows users insight into feature progressions and make participants feel valued and listened to.
To avoid excess requests, we would suggest appointing department leaders who can help keep the plan on track and act as your middleperson. Also consider setting up some sessions with staff to address these requests and queries. They may want more information on their new space, like address, nearby amenities for food and transport. Get all this out of the way early and they will be more excited and invested.
Assets need locations!
During a move Asset management is critical. For items which are required to be in specific places we use NFC tagging which is integrated into our custom built (but available for licencing) Asset Management System, Azolla. Before we even begin the move, we work through floor plans with the client and allocate Assets to their proper places in the new building.
Design for People and Scenarios
By this stage we have the full support of the IT Department. We have developed a solid communications structure with our teams and we just discussed assets and locations and how we approach that situation. Looking at floor plans is all well and good but when you are assigning things to places you need to be sure it all fits. Never assume anything! If COVID-19 has taught us one thing it’s that an office space needs to be able to adapt. Yes, all the desks fit, but is it cramped? Have you thought of the implications of social distancing?
Using a move management tool or simply CAD drawings, you can plan out the office space based on the exact dimensions of your assets. By working through scenarios like the current pandemic, you can get an idea of how adaptable the environment will be and even get pre-approval for those adaptations from your EH&S manager and perhaps even share the plans on the Project Management board for staff to see and comment on. It’s all about inclusion and open communication; allowing for suggestions doesn’t mean you have to action them all, but it is always a great learning experience and a move is the chance to fix any ongoing issues with the current space and how it is laid out.
Call the trucks because you are ready to go!
As you can see, planning a move is quite task intensive and requires a lot of communication and preparation to avoid many of the common pitfalls. As the Facility Manager this is your opportunity to get the building setup the way you think is most optimum for it to function. Use your skills and knowledge to convince everyone else to come around to your way of thinking, but also listen to everyone and adapt your vison whenever needed, because that’s where you get to learn and evolve as an FM.