The One Secret Weapon the Best CEOs Use When They Move Their Offices
So, you’ve realized it’s time to move your company headquarters. Maybe your team has outgrown your space, or maybe your current lease is ending. Perhaps you’ve simply decided it’s time for a change.
Whatever the reason, you’re probably excited at the prospect of a new home for your company. But you should also be feeling a little dread at the prospect of all the extra work that’s headed your way. After all, you have a business to run, and moving is no simple task.
Ask any company leader who has overseen an office move and you’ll likely hear a few horror stories. There are plenty of ways things can go wrong: damaged property, work on hold for days or weeks, schedules gone awry, and irritable employees are a few of them.
Most companies weather the moving process like a storm, coming through it intact but a little worse for wear. However, others manage to come out on the other side of a move looking even better than before.
The CEOs of these companies report that their move hasn’t been a huge disruption. On the contrary, their team is actually MORE productive than ever.
I’ve talked to and worked with many companies who have moved their offices, and I can tell you what makes the experience so different for these savvy CEOs. It’s definitely not luck. They have a secret: They do much less of the actual moving work on their own.
Instead of personally taking on the heavy lifting and trying to make executive decisions based on their own limited experience with moving an office, they hire experts who know exactly how to optimize the moving process.
The Importance of Delegation
When you think about it, moving isn’t so different than any other business task. The best CEOs already know the importance of delegating, and they know that resisting the urge to micromanage is a key to great leadership.
For example, you’ve probably hired a CFO, a Director of Marketing, and a customer service department. You also outsource most of the rest of the office tasks, from cleaning to maintenance.
Now you need to hire a Director of the Office Move: Someone with the necessary experience and background who can inform you of the stakes, the logistics and the best practices, then make sure that your vision is carried out.
This won’t be a permanent position, of course. This contractor will work with you for about three to six months, or as long as it takes you to settle into your new space. It’s similar to hiring an agency for ad work: They come in, dive deep into the job, and create beautiful results that make you look great.
This is different than hiring a moving company, or even a real estate broker or an office design consultant. Those partners are often part of the process, too, but they don’t have the expertise to manage the entire move on your behalf.
What you need is what’s known in the industry as a “Change Manager.”
Enter the Change Manager
Change management seems like a well-kept secret for a few reasons.
First, company leaders only move their offices every 10 years or so, which means the topic doesn’t exactly stay on the front page of business publications.
Another problem is that many companies are already shelling out a lot of cash for their move in the first place. Cost can be an especially big concern for small or mid-sized companies, and if they’ve started the moving process on their own (with no idea that there are experts available to help), they’re already feeling some pressure to keep things efficient.
That’s why many CEOs reject the idea of hiring a “change manager” outright. After all, “change,” unlike, say, advertising or accounting, happens by itself, right?
Unfortunately, by the time company leaders have realized that the office relocation process is something they should have enlisted help for, their business has already suffered, and the mistakes that they’ve made may have caused permanent damage to the company.
As CEO, you may very well be the person who knows and cares the most about your business. You may even be the one who has the most personally invested in the success of the office relocation.
However, that doesn’t make you the best person to handle the move. First of all, you’ve probably only done it a few times, if you’ve done it at all. And you can’t drop what you’re doing and focus on the office move exclusively.
As CEO, you’re an expert when it comes to your company. But you’re still not an expert in office relocation.
That’s why savvy CEOs know that bringing in an expert is the best thing they can do for their company.
What Change Managers Do
Although each professional change manager (sometimes called a “change leader”) varies in their approach, their services typically cover a combination of the following areas.
How do you define a successful office move? If you don’t take the time to establish your goals upfront, you won’t know how to focus on getting the best results. Setting goals often requires reflection on the big-picture values of your company and what kind of culture you want to establish. That doesn’t mean that goals should be vague, though. Change managers should be able to suggest a set of specific metrics that best reflect your company’s needs.
Putting a Team Together
Even with a change manager leading the relocation efforts, you’ll still need people on your internal staff to help manage the logistics and details of the move. You’ll likely need other outside help, too. The change manager can put the team together based on your unique goals, then serve as the point person for communications among all of them.
Collecting Employee Feedback
Encouraging employees to speak up about what they want and need in a new office space is particularly important — and time-consuming. The change manager often takes care of all of this, doing the work of interviewing employees and then analyzing and summarizing their responses. Delegating this task to a third party can encourage employees to speak freely about their office needs. They also approach the interview with an objective strategy that is essential for getting accurate data.
Translating Your Vision to a Physical Space
A change manager often works directly with an architect to translate the needs and goals that you’ve established together into a physical space. There’s a lot that goes into office design: layout, aesthetics, and desk assignments. A good change manager will be able to advise you on each of these aspects.
Want to Learn More?
If you’re a small- or medium-sized business owner, you probably have many more questions about what change management involves, and what it would mean for your specific company. I’d love to speak with you about all the details.
After helping leading companies in Silicon Valley relocate their offices for more than a decade, I decided to specialize in the office change needs of small- and medium-sized businesses. You can use this page to schedule a free consultation.