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6 Tips on Leading an Office Move

Last Monday, we experienced a major milestone at GovLoop – we moved into a new office.

We are pretty excited with the new space and there’s a ton of exciting new features from sit-to-stand desks to office ping pong to lots of conference rooms and an amazing large kitchen.

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But behind that move was six months of hard work finding space, working with architects, planning internally, and rollout. I’ve been a part of multiple moves but this is the first one where I was the point person.

I learned a lot, but here’s my 6 tips on leading an office move:

1) Build a team that’s representative – as we began to work on the office move, we set up a cross-functional team with folks ranging from various parts of our organization (GovLoop and our parent company GovDelivery) including IT, HR, different business units, and more.  By having a cross-functional team you know you are getting different viewpoints and solving any potential issues before they start.

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2) Provide opportunities for whole team to have input – While I strongly encourage you to not design by committee, you do need to provide opportunities for the whole team to have input.  Before we started building our space, we conducted a survey of key priorities of all as well as small focus groups.  Additionally, we held all-hands meetings taking questions and I constantly asked for input.  A key part of providing opportunity is also being clear what’s not up for feedback (i.e. seating chart, etc)._DSC0041
3) Let experts do their job-
As noted above, the worst design is “design by committee.”  The worst moves I’ve been a part of have been where non-experts are making decisions (colors, designs, layout) that are best left to professionals.  Hire the best architects and designers and A/V experts you can, provide them a basic vision, and then let them create.    

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4) Overcommunicate constantly –  Over-communication is key in a move.  Rumors fill a silence void so when you are not providing information rumors start.  Even in a pretty small office, I caught folks a few times saying “I heard….” and I quickly addressed “I actually have all info.  What’s question? I’m happy to help.”  I made it a point to overcommunicate on status on a regular interval and through multiple mediums (email, one-on-one, meetings, and more).  And don’t just rely on yourself – your managers should be your ally in making sure this message reaches all staff in a positive manner (make it clear to your managers your need for help in roll-out).

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5) Think of it like a launch – I think of a move-in date like a launch of a website or any project.  You want to underestimate and overdeliver.  You want to build in extra time in schedule as there are always items that take a couple weeks (be careful of sharing team move-in date until sure. And if do, go broad and underpromise).  Day of move-in – make sure to have all the launch keys.  I came in over the weekend and wrote little notes on conference room whiteboards, peoples desks, and brought donuts the first day.  The supply cabinet was filled and we had a hidden surprise – a cereal bar.  

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6) Set your expectations – As a leader of a move, you have to set your expectations going into it.  No matter what you are going to do, you’ll hear some complaints and there’ll be a little bit of drama.  As a colleague said, in any move there will be ⅓ like it, ⅓ don’t care, ⅓ hate it as change is tough.  My hope is that you can beat that percentage by a little but I think important to not beat yourself up or change paths too quickly if you hear a little bit of negative feedback.  

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We are excited to be in our new offices and hopefully we’ll see some of you GovLoopers in our office soon.

Led an office move or been part of one recently?  Leave a comment.

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7 Comments

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Tammy Seleski

Great article–it reminds me of when we had an office re-fab and had to move our entire quarters to the empty office next door. We stayed at the temporary location for two months and moved it all back, again! We are happily enjoying our new office (now, for 2 years)! Gotta say, I love the green and gold color scheme by the ping-pong table (I’m from WI- GO Pack GO!) and I love the idea of sit to stand desks.

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Lily de Grey

Excellent post, Steve! I’m glad that I stumbled upon your post because I’ve been thinking about moving our office to another facility. I think you’re absolutely right: when doing this it’s important that you over communicate as much as possible. I’ll be sure to follow your suggestion by explaining everything multiple times so everyone is crystal clear. Thanks for the great tips; you’ve been very helpful! http://gwcmoves.com

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Susan Mendus

I love tip #4 – overcommunicate constantly. I think this applies to lots of office situations, not just moving.

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