Your boxes are packed; you’re ready to go, right? Unfortunately, moving office spaces is not as simple as packing up your favorite pen and timing a new commute. Even in the age of the cloud, telework and BYOD, transferring the operations of your agency into a new space can be a difficult process.
Recently, GovLoop and GovDelivery moved into a new space and learned a lot from the process. Under the direction of GovDelivery Federal Administrator Ellen Bouchard, we worked as a team to strive for a seamless transition. We learned some important lessons along the way. Reflecting on the process, Ellen offers five tips for how your office can “move on up” successfully:
1. Start With A Clean Slate
“We had accumulated a lot of clutter at the old office and it is easy sometimes to hang on to things ‘just in case,’” explained Ellen. “It was really important to encourage employees to de-clutter their lives to help them create a more clear vision of their daily goals and objectives.” Use the move as an opportunity to organize and take stock of inventory. Coming into your new space with a fresh start is a great opportunity for your agency.
2. Designate A Leader
“We delegated one person as the main contact and set up supportive teammates to work together. With multiple input sources, ultimate decisions quickly became lost in translation. The entire group did a great job of taking a step back to say: we need one point of contact here, one main decision maker here, and everyone else has a role to play as follows. Establishing those clear roles ensures that nothing gets overlooked,” shared Ellen.
3. Understand Employees’ Vision For the New Space
Offices move spaces for a variety of reasons, but make sure every employee gets the chance to voice what they want for the new space. A new space has the potential to make your employees more productive and improve operations at your agency, but only if you ask the right questions.
“Off the bat, we created a survey for colleague feedback. It was really important that employees felt as if this was going to be THEIR space. Setting the initial framework of a space with input by the people for the people was very beneficial in giving the project managers, architect, contractors, and our team a clear picture of what we needed to create,” explained Ellen.
4. Devote Time To The Move and Schedule Accordingly
“One of the greatest challenges of this project was managing it against other tasks. Many people in the old space weren’t aware of the work and organization needed to successfully create the new one, so one-off tasks ended up butting into time on a daily basis,” reflected Ellen.
Make sure employees realize that participating in a move is time consuming. The team organizing the move should devote at least one hour a day to corresponding with contractors and vendors, planning the moving process, and keeping employees in the loop about changing policies. Employees not on the team should understand that the process of packing and labeling items and planning for a disruption in workflow will cut into their productivity.
5. Manage Expectations
Unless your office decided to move to Disneyworld, the new space will not be a place where all of your hopes and dreams come true. Moving to a new space provides an opportunity for employees to think critically about what they need to be productive, but make sure employees keep requests reasonable.
“It’s easy to understand people getting excited about new things, but you do need to establish a clear boundary of whether something is a want vs. a need,” cautioned Ellen. “If I WANT every wall to be a white board, I need to be able to justify why, otherwise it serves no purpose. Knowing what it took to get what we did has really made me appreciate that while it might be nice to have some things, our work does not change for the better when we get everything we want. “
We hope you can take advantage of our lessons learned and apply them to a move at your agency. What else would you add to our list?