People react differently to moving; some welcome the change and potential challenges while others get stressed and overwhelmed.
When supervising or managing employees, it is important to include your employees’ welfare as part of the moving plan. But first, you need to know what signs of mental or emotional stress to look out for among your staff before creating a plan of action.
Recognizing the signs
The negative effects of a move can vary from one person to another. Individuals who get stressed can exhibit a variety of signs which include, but are not limited to the following:
- Becoming withdrawn or aggressive
- Inability to focus
- Unable to make decisions
- Reduced job satisfaction
- Loss of productivity at work
- Shifts in mood or behavior
If the new location is disadvantageous for some of your employees, you need to talk to them about the move and find out how it can affect them.
Some may be worried about long commutes, heavy traffic, or more expensive food. Others may be thinking about how a new routine will disrupt their daily flow.
How moving offices affects employees
Offices and businesses move for a number of reasons. Some companies move to a new location to expand or minimize cost. Others relocate to enable to business to access new markets and better facilities, or start from scratch and change the brand image.
Expect your normal business operations to be disrupted with the scheduled move. If your employees are not properly informed and prepared for the move, they may become confused and insecure about their jobs. The move can also place additional stress on individuals if too much responsibility is placed on them.
There are also potential long-term effects that need to be considered. Stressful moves can strain relationships between colleagues. It can be something as simple as the new work setup or floor plan; about who gets a desk by a window or with a view, and who doesn’t.
Even small things like these can affect the company culture and work atmosphere, which can permeate for months or even years after the actual move.
What to do to help employees cope
While office relocations usually stem from strategic business decisions, you should always keep the wellbeing of your employees in mind. Even if the move is happening no matter what, you can keep the stress of relocation down by helping your employees manage the stress of moving by doing the following:
1. Keep your staff informed
Lack of communication can create stress and tension within your business. Create a communication plan to prevent this from happening. Let the employees know the purpose of the move, the reasons why the relocation is needed, and the potential benefits.
It is also important to let the staff know what to expect before, during, and after the move. For instance, if you have hire office movers and packers to handle the move, inform the employees when they are coming in and what they will be moving. Tell them what to do with papers or equipment that won’t be included in the move so they can be assigned tasks (i.e. sell old equipment such as computers or shred documents) or give employees time to plan.
Besides the date of the move and letting them know what to expect, it is also essential that you give employees basic information about where the company will be relocated. Give them the new address and phone number. This will give them time to visit the new location and plan on potential changes (i.e. available transportation or housing options near the new office).
Use as many communication channels as you can to disperse the information to your staff. Relaying the message several times is expected to gradually let the event sink in and provide employees with opportunities to ask questions or verify details.
2. Be receptive to feedback
Effective communication is a two-way street. Expect and encourage staff to ask questions, express their opinions, or voice out their concerns about the move. Providing an open environment allows employees to process their thoughts and feelings about the move, helping them cope while reducing stress.
During this time, you may also receive feedback from your colleagues or office staff. Welcome their opinions as they can be a source of useful tips that you can use to improve the moving process and help staff cope.
3. Divide tasks
Expect business operations to be disrupted before, during, and after the actual move. To make the move as seamless as possible, divide the tasks among your staff. You may need to assign different teams to perform different tasks.
The move can also affect productivity rates within the office as there is a lot of activity happening at the same time. Reduce the workload to provide employees with time to pack, unpack, and settle in.
Do not forget to hire professional movers to alleviate some of the burden on your employees. Temporarily placing documents or equipment in a local facility that provides storage space may be needed during the move as well.
Even with all the preparations, you may not be able to tackle all of the issues related to the move. However, by following these tips, you can reduce the distress and anxiety at your office.
Hafiz Zafar is the owner of Professional Movers. The company offers reliable, cost-effective and stress-free packing, storage and relocation services across Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and other parts of the UAE region.