Relocation of business premises comes up for most businesses at some point. For small businesses it’s often due to outgrowing the original site, but there might also be reasons of cost, image or proximity to customer base to consider.
The legal issues are one thing, but actually some of the biggest issues many employers have when relocating is employees’ attitudes to the move. There is frequently resentment, bad feeling, disruption, and general feelings of unsettlement. Minimising these issues can work wonders in terms of making the move more successful.
Here are some ideas of things you should consider when moving your business premises to try to keep your team members on-side.
1. Consult, consult, consult
One of the biggest complaints we hear from employees involved in a relocation is uncertainty. They often become aware that a move is being contemplated or discussed way before they find out ‘officially’ what is going on. This leads to rumour-spreading, dissatisfaction, distraction from work and reduces the likelihood of staff feeling co-operative and reacting well when the time comes.
Start talking to employees as early as you can about a possible move. Make sure they understand the issues you are facing which are driving the relocation, and listen to their views when considering possible new sites. They may come up with ideas or issues relating to proposed new premises which you had not considered, and if they feel they have been as involved in the decision as possible, and kept fully informed, clearly they are less likely to react badly to the change.
2. Relocation assistance
If you’re moving a significant distance you may want to offer relocation packages to your staff. Those can be costly but if the alternative is losing valued team members and having to spend time and money recruiting, they can represent good value. These packages can trigger tax and national insurance relief to a maximum of £8000 of payments as long as they meet the criteria, so take advice when implementing.
3. One-off incentives
Incentivising employees to accept a change to their work location may be worth considering. This might particularly be useful where you don’t have a mobility clause in the contract. These one-off payments to ‘smooth’ the way to agreement to the relocation would normally be taxable.
4. Additional mileage
A very common approach to relocation is to fund additional mileage or travel expenses incurred by employees. This would usually be for a set period of time, perhaps a year, to acknowledge the additional expense and inconvenience involved.
5. Adjustment to working hours
If employees are going to be required to commute further as a result of the relocation of their workplace, you may wish to consider some flexibility around working hours, especially for those with caring responsibilities.
Frequently people have not a lot of ‘give’ at the beginning and end of the day when it comes to combining school runs, childcare drop-off or other personal arrangements, and may therefore struggle to get to a new workplace further away for the same start time. Consideration of these kinds of personal circumstances goes a long way towards gaining co-operation during a business move.
6. Increased homeworking
If a relocation will involve employees having to travel significantly further, being able to work from home more often can certainly ease the pain of a longer commute. Again, flexibility like this goes a long way towards retaining valued employees and can save you money and time in the long run.
7. New workplace design
Take into account employee’s preferences and priorities when designing the new workplace. If there are any things about the current office which employees find inconvenient or would like to be improved, take the opportunity to do that. Consider catering provision, staff room facilities, drinks and fridge space, office equipment, and desk organisation.
8. Don’t underestimate how important desk location is…
When you’re trying to organise where to sit 50 people, an individual’s complaints or preferences may seem irritating and petty. Employees get incredibly passionate and territorial about their own desks and where exactly they will be working.
Proximity of desks to toilets, kitchen, air conditioning vents, drafts, windows, other members of staff, sunlight, noise, photocopying equipment and myriad other things can become an issue. Try not to dismiss concerns out of hand, and address them where at all possible. You’d be surprised at how big a deal this kind of thing can become…!
If you’re considering a move and would like some advice on minimising the impact on your staff, do get in touch.