The hidden costs of internal office moves: four pitfalls to watch out for
While the basic costs of an internal office move may be clear, there are certain “hidden costs” that can easily be overlooked. These aren’t simple expenses that can be added to a budget, either—these are challenges that can impact the morale and productivity of employees, which can in turn result in a significant loss in revenue. So, while it’s undoubtedly important to calculate the hard cost of a move, it’s equally important to look at ways in which a move can disrupt employees.
As the old saying goes, knowing is half the battle: when you have an idea of the challenges you’ll face, overcoming them becomes much easier. If a looming internal move has your facility team sweating bullets, consider the following hidden costs and their potential solutions.
1. Emotional attachment
We’ve likely all experienced the attachment that comes from working in a particular space for a while, and we all know it can be a jolt to have to relocate our workstations. What may surprise you is the emotional upheaval that can arise from a move. As leadership coach and consultant Lara Hogan notes, moves touch on a variety of your employees’ core needs; when addressing the hidden costs of a move, facility managers should take time to address the person in front of them.
Forewarning is one way to reduce the sting of a move for employees. Soliciting feedback also lets employees feel that their voices are being heard, and provides facility managers and other relevant stakeholders a chance to deal preemptively with concerns. Open conversation between management teams and employees can inform the layout and planning phase of internal moves—a little extra effort can have a big impact when it comes to managing expectations. You likely won’t be able to satisfy every request or smooth every ruffled feather, but fielding the biggest questions and addressing seemingly small concerns can go a long way towards canceling out one of an internal move’s biggest hidden costs: a large drop in employee morale.
2. Physical disruptions
People get used to working in certain configurations, and disruptions that seemingly have little to do with work can still have an impact on productivity. Employees that were working well initially might end up placed next to a less focused teammate, and their own focus might suffer as a result. Even minor changes can impact productivity at the individual or office level—a new desk might be closer to the bustle of the kitchen or further from the collaborative spaces needed for creative brainstorming.
When it comes time to plan an internal move, take what you know about your teams’ working styles into account. Does the employee you’re moving make numerous phone calls throughout the day? Or do they require a quiet space in order to do their best work? Use relevant space management software to plan layouts in advance, and play with different options to see what might be the ideal configuration for your departments. Grouping more active teams together can cut down on distractions for your employees who need a quiet environment to get detail-oriented work done.
In even more practical terms, help your employees with the physical bother of a move by providing boxes, labeling any designated office equipment or furnishings, and having employees take home valuables in advance of a move. Do what you can to minimize the impact before the move and everyone benefits.
3. Technical upheaval
The comfort of familiarity isn’t the only thing that can get lost during an internal move. Very real data with very real value to the business, its employees and its clientele can end up getting shuffled for a few days—or worse, permanently lost.
This is where office tech comes into play. Obviously, overhauling an office’s computer systems is a big ask at any time, let alone when moves are being made. Your company can, however, ensure certain critical documents, files and other digital tools are moved to appropriate cloud-based storage prior to the switch. Think of a move to the cloud as insurance against a computer getting dropped or a crucial storage device ending up misplaced despite best efforts: like insurance, it’s good if you need it and even better if you don’t.
4. Staying in your comfort zone
One of the hidden costs when it comes to internal moves is that you’ve found a fresh and exciting new space for a team… but it’s not really any different from the last one. Whether you’re moving the entire office or a select handful of desks, the temptation to keep things as close to the status quo as possible can end up working against you, causing you to miss an opportunity for positive change.
Has your workplace considered hot desking? Are your resources allocated effectively across floors? If one department is continually scrapping for meeting space while another barely uses their dedicated boardroom, why not mix things up? Internal moves can present possibilities for looking at a facility in a brand-new way: use office flux to try out new configurations or think creatively about long-standing challenges.
Don’t let costs—hidden or otherwise—sully your big move
Moving can be a stressful event, a fact that holds true whether you’re shifting individual personnel or an entire office. For facility managers, proactive planning and effective communication are the best policies to head off all manner of problems before they start. Whatever the size and scope of the move, open dialogue and support are crucial to success.
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