Workplace Wellbeing During An Office Relocation Process

15th February 2016

According to a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)’s report, despite increased business awareness of the importance of actively supporting health and wellbeing in the workplace, there still appears to be a stagnant implementation of any effective work wellbeing infrastructure in the UK working culture.

With an average cost of absence now at £554 per employee per year, and with fewer than one in 10 (8%) UK organisations having adopted a wellbeing strategy, many organisations’ internal efforts have consisted of one-off initiatives that often fail to have a long-term impact in the workplace.

To address this, the CIPD recommends that a proactive employee wellbeing programme – based on good people management, leadership and culture – should be at the core of how an organisation fulfils its mission and carries out its operations.

So, how does this kind of information impact businesses when they look to relocate or redesign existing workspace?

We all know that moving house can be a stressful process, but an office relocation can have an impact on businesses and staff wellbeing if a well-structured plan isn’t implemented early enough in the process.

Identifying your staff’s home locations for example, during an early consultation can identify employees who may be lost during the process due to an increased commute.

With these factors in mind and following on from Rapports’ recent interview on best practices during an office relocation with Angela Seed, the General Manager of the London hub of The New York Times; part two of our interview focuses on her advice for managing staff wellbeing during an office relocation process.

Angela, how should employees be consulted during a relocation process to ensure their wellbeing is managed?

Considering your staff’s needs has a huge impact on the process, so consider their locations and travelling patterns.

Based on our move in April last year, we had a situation where we were centrally placed in London and all of our staff commute from North, South or East and West London so there wasn’t a huge problem. But, if you’re not in a centralised area you’ve got to see where there may be challenges with travel for staff and increased costs.

Of course business needs are the ultimate consideration, but your staff are also a big part of the consideration in the location process.

 

Rapport’ often work with HR teams to provide employee workshops before the relocation process. We advise teams to look at projects at least 6-10 months in advance of a move date to identify key questions for the move. In our experience, we find that clients are less frantic when they’ve identified all their options early on, which can save on costs in the long-term. Equally staff stress, a reaction to the change reduces!

Lease terms and the legalities of securing a new property can also be a lengthy, tricky process. We often oversee this process, on behalf of our client, with their selected commercial agents at the very early stages to identify the key areas that work for staff alongside the business needs. We are very experienced at identifying available properties and the legalities of lease terms in consultation with our clients and on their behalf; this enables our clients to continue with other business matters.

 

Consult your employees – initially; we compiled a short list involving key people and heads of department; we then involved all other employees when the decision was made on moving.

Employees may ask for certain things – our staff asked for showers, and they wanted good kitchen areas. We wanted to ensure our staff’s wellbeing was being maintained, and reasonable requests met. We were able to accommodate showers in a small design change and ensured they had good kitchenette areas on all floors as opposed to one floor.

We also have a pleasant basement courtyard with seating and tables where staff can sit and take lunch breaks, as well as room to store their bikes. You need to consider your staff and take into consideration what they would like out of the building and the working environment.

These aspects can be great incentives to employees through the process.

What employee policies could be factored into a relocation or fit-out process?

There are incentives you could implement for staff. As an example agreeing to pay any additional travel fares to incentivise a move with the business.

It’s an overhead and cost so if you value your staff paying for the extra cost over a period of 2/3 years as an example, could make the relocation process easier to accept.

But, some companies aren’t in a position to be able to do that. So, if an organisation needs to move out of London because of spiralling office space costs your staff either go with you, or they leave.

Alternatively, use a company like Rapport Solutions to assist you with the property locations, the tender lease process and to help project manage the process if need be consider moving further afield to help save costs in the long term.

For example, there’s more space available in the City now, but the cost of rents have risen by as much as 46% on some properties, so consider looking at other areas in and around the capital.

Having Rapport to Project Manage the processes, on your behalf with agents and contractors, enables you to concentrate on other areas of your role, business needs and in the long run, can control costs.

What’s your advice to HR and facilities teams for a productive, collaborative and supportive environment during a relocation process?

To ensure a smooth office move, you need to be organised and have extra support teams working with you.  It helps to ensure a smooth transition for your staff to come in, to unpack their box straight away and enable them to start working immediately.

We had extra support; we brought over our IT team from Paris who worked on setting systems and PC’s up while the desks were being assembled over the weekend.

On the day, we moved in, and we put a system in place to have a team of removal men on all the floors to assist with moving furniture and collecting empty crates, etc., which resulted in a tidy and workable environment by the end of the day. Everything was up and running apart from small teething problems, which are inevitable.

Think about the process logically and organise teams who have clear objectives to make the move seamless throughout the relocation project.

 

You can speak with Rapport on; 01252 712590 or email us for advice on utilising your current space, an office move,  design or fit-out at; info@rapport-solutions.org.uk

To view our portfolio of work click here.

 

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