By: David Suter, President

Let’s face it, people don’t really like change.  One thing that 2020 taught us in the business environment is that we must change, or we may become irrelevant.  The businesses and nonprofits that didn’t pivot were left behind in their competitors’ dust or were unfortunately shut down.

Facility and Human Resource Managers are often tasked with managing a corporate relocation, expansion, or right-sizing of the office space.  In 2021, we are facing a new challenge of having our staff work from home.  In many cases, having staff continue to work from home well into 2021 is forcing decisions to be made about the future of office space and how it will be utilized.  Whether your company decides to bring staff back into the office or right-size the office because of new work from home policies, this is a great opportunity to sharpen your leadership skills as you navigate the process.

Transparent Communication

When it comes to leadership there are a few things, that if handled well, will help you stand out from those around you.  Transparent communication is at the top of this list.  This skill may be easier for some than others and that typically comes from past experiences and company culture.  Being transparent will not only move the process forward faster, but it will also help build trust with your peers and staff.  From our experience on managing moves for corporations and educational institutions, the companies that hold their cards close and do not share information inevitably take much longer, decisions are harder to make, and staff engagement goes way down.  Lack of transparency also results in increased costs  due to delays and double work.

Manage the Messaging

Improving your communication skills this year is going to take more effort than ever before.  The days of “All Staff” meetings at your office are done.  Communication has changed significantly and the way you communicate to your team must be different.  Instead of being able to read a room, you now have to read a screen.  Background distractions are normal.  Dogs barking, kids yelling, iRobot vacuum coming to life, and that annoying echo coming from a random participant are all typical for most meetings.  Don’t be discouraged, everyone is dealing with the same thing.  2020 should be summed up in one comment “You are on mute!”

So how do you get past all of these distractions?  Be prepared with an agenda that is clear and concise.  If you want buy-in from the team, you need to be clear on the objectives and the ‘Why’.  Make sure you are able to explain the ‘Why’ for the decision for your move.  Don’t say to them that your decision to move to a smaller space is because the business is struggling.  The message they need to hear is that you are ‘Right-Sizing’ in your new space.  Most companies have realized that they can operate efficiently with some or many staff working from home indefinitely.

Lead with Compassion

Regardless of what your ‘Right-Sizing’ reason is, how you communicate to staff is critical.  Most companies look at moving as just people and boxes.  We hear it over and over again.  It is time to treat our team members with dignity and respect to help guide them through this transition.  We have developed a transition management framework to helps leaders communicate clearly and utilize Move Champions to meet the team members where they are to mitigate anxiety, frustration and questions relating to the move. As leaders, we must understand that transition takes time and that each individual moves through the phases at their own pace. A little compassion goes a long way to strengthen relationships during a relocation.

Moving is never easy and some people deal with it much better than others.  The point here is to be open, clear, concise and compassionate.  The better you communicate the ‘Why’ and the how, the better this transition will go.

If you need more help, check out our Relocation Resource Center that contains guides and checklists to help you make your move.

Additional Resources

Roadmap to Relocation Guide

Roadmap to Relocation Webinar