Hi Team! We’re looking to move offices within the next month.
If any of you have led an office move, or experienced one, what were some things that you/your team did to make everyone feel at home, looked after, valued? Conversely, what was a major miss that we should have on our radar?
We also have a lot of team members who will now have a much more complicated/longer commute so any thoughts on how to help them see this more positively would be helpful!
This biggest tip I would provide is to make sure you are lining up your internet connection months in advance! This can take a long time to get set up and you don’t want to be without internet on day 1 in the new office, or experiencing any bumps with it.
We also invited our team to help name our new conference rooms. That’s helpful to have done ahead of time as well and have as bookable resources from day 1.
HI Alicia, Great question! We just moved our office in mid-November. Here are some ideas from our experience:
share info in an all-hands meeting prior to the move; also make it accessible in a slide deck they can access anytime. Include info like a. When the move is happening b. What employees are required to do (pack their desk, take laptop home, when to report to work at the new office, etc.) c. what happens to food in the common fridge d. new address e. set expectations regarding what will be working right away (internet, etc.) and what may take some time.
Create a slack channel for people to share info, ideas, complaints about the #NewSpace
Cater lunch the first day or two. Think about also catering breakfast day 1 if the coffee maker / kitchen won’t be fully up and running
For those who have longer commutes, perhaps start a slack channel where they can share tips, ideas, podcasts, etc.
Be extra aware of securing high value items that might get lost or taken in the physical move: laptops, etc.
In terms of things we goofed on:
trash cans weren’t accessible so we had black garbage bags everywhere
our heat didn’t work well for weeks - the unit was undersized for our space (new build out).
We should have put more thought into IT (setting up the network, ensuring the dns server was stable, etc.)- that responsibility fell to a senior engineer who had lots of other things to do so he was in “troubleshooting” mode much more than anyone anticipated
Office moves are hard but also a real cause for celebration. The usual reason for moving is around saying no to something that doesn’t suit your needs any more and finding something that does.
Office warming parties are a great way to celebrate the transition and start creating positive memories.
Another thing is around the actual moving. Declutter before the physical moving starts. Order big commercial bins to chuck things out, create partnerships with charities to donate unclaimed items, give each person a box a clear deadline to decide what to keep and what goes. This is a major help to whoever is coordinating the move and helps those moving think about how they want to work /who they want to be in the new space and how the items they have kept will get them there.
It’s been 2 years since we moved our main HQ but there are things that still stick with me.
Have a team of people working on this, clearly defined responsibilities as far in advance as possible. We started 4 months out but it was tight to move 200 people.
Once the refurbishment started on the new building, we did short video tours of the location every month, then 2 weeks, just using a go pro. Shared with all our people so they could start visualizing themselves in the new space.
We had some “goodbye” activities heading up to the last day including a scavenger hunt of the area. This helped people say goodbye.
Label desk content with both desk from and desk to locations, we even colour coded per floor
Day 1 office tours organized by hosts who had already been around the site.
Don’t expect any work to be done for the first day. We found that by mid afternoon people settled down by themselves.
Even with the best communication and accessible content, expect more questions across the company for at least 3 months.
Most of all, have fun! It’s exciting times and people are often happy so long as the facilities are better, even if the commute is longer.
So many great suggestions already! (And major echo on HVAC and IT being the longest lead times and uncomfortable pain points.) Here are a few more feel-good type things to consider beyond all the logistics of the move:
Have some of your team scout the new neighborhood for coffee, lunch, and happy hour spots and make a little “welcome to the new 'hood” map for everyone to have on their desks when they arrive.
Similarly, if there are new security protocols, new storage areas, new locations for printers or other shared resources, new locations/seating situations for teams, etc. – it’s nice to have a “handy guide to our new digs” that helps people navigate the change and find the things they need to find.
Have a welcome committee that helps people get acclimated on Day 1. This team will meet people as they’re coming in and walk them to their new spots, pointing out need-to-knows on the way.
If possible, have some aspects of the desks set up for people when they arrive. Even if it’s just a power block for every pod and all the monitors in place, it feels nice to not come in to an empty bunch of desks and a tangle of cords. Anything you can do to remove friction so that people only have to unpack their computer and their personal box is a gift.
If your meeting rooms are bookable/often reserved, get those added to the calendar in advance so that people can transfer over meetings prior to arriving and avoid pile ups for a week when it’s the wild west.
Set expectations for the team that the first few weeks are going to be bumpy as everyone learns the new space. Create an avenue for feedback and suggestions, and do your best to be responsive to the small comforts that make a big difference. Acknowledge with the team that change is hard and it’s okay to talk about the challenges, but the best route to getting the new office to 100% will be people proposing solutions and taking initiative to embrace your new home.