One of the most common challenges to both individual and team resilience is an office move. Whether you’re moving to a new building across town or to a new office just a few floors away, an office move is a significant event that can damage morale and productivity.
Even when a move results in a better work environment, the change in patterns of behavior ranging from where people eat lunch to how they commute to and from work will have a major impact on staff. Focusing on resilience ahead of time will enable more adaptability and flexibility for the changes a move will inevitably bring.
Here are some tips for fostering resilience during an office move:
- Organize a resilience committee. A volunteer resilience committee can organize activities and events that actively promote resilience during the move. When I moved to a new building a few years ago, our resilience committee published polls on what people would miss about the old building and looked forward to in the new building. They also organized social events that kept staff connected.
- Communicate. If you think you are communicating enough about the move, triple your communication. When group members feel well informed about what is going on, they have better community resilience. Share both good and bad news, recognizing that staff will usually fill a vacuum with rumors that are much worse than reality. Hold town hall meetings, issue regular updates and keep people informed.
- Express gratitude. Studies show that expressing gratitude has a direct impact on resilience so regularly talk about what you’re grateful for in this move. Send thank you notes to the staff organizing the move.
- Help colleagues. Recognize that some colleagues will lose in this move – whether they have a longer commute, smaller office or more distance from the team. Set up groups of volunteers who help each other adapt – they may explore commuting options, develop maps of the new neighborhood highlighting restaurants and other resources, or organize furniture swaps after the move. Altruism boosts resilience so encouraging employees to volunteer to help each other will enhance their personal resilience.
- Reinforce a shared purpose. Use the move to highlight your office mission and reinforce a shared sense of purpose and value. Highlight your office goals and how the move will help achieve them.
- Appreciate the human factor. Awareness of and attention to the human factor is key to enhancing team resilience. Recognizing the impact the move has on people and actively trying to minimize the negative effects will demonstrate how important the people are to the organization. Even if some negative results cannot be changed, acknowledging them and expressing regret is important.
- Manage the workload. Don’t expect staff to work at the same rates of productivity throughout the move. Manage the workload so that work tapers off during the weeks before the move and then slowly returns to normal over several weeks after the move. This will eliminate significant stress and allow employees more time to focus on the move. Expecting staff to work at the same rates through the move risks them having low resilience and therefore much lower productivity once the move is completed. It will also be much more difficult to bring productivity back to pre-move levels.
What have you done to foster personal and team resilience during an office move?
This blog does not represent official policies of the Department of State or those of the U.S. Government.