Before moving offices it’s important to consider all the possible implications of a new address for staff and customers, particularly in terms of safety, access and amenities. You’ll need to update your internal documents and collateral to reflect key changes and let everyone know what to expect. Here’s how to help facilitate a smooth transition:
Putting safety first
Staff safety should always be a top priority. As your fit out is being finalised it’s vital to conduct a risk assessment of the new site. You can appoint a staff member trained in work health and safety (WHS) or engage an external contractor. Either way, a thorough evaluation should:
- Identify any new risks. For instance, perhaps you had lifts in your last building and the new office has stairs. Or maybe instead of carpeting you now have tiles. You’ll need to modify your WHS policies to take account of these potential hazards.
- Assess emergency procedures. If you’re moving into a shared building there may already be established evacuation routes and meeting points. If not, you’ll need to develop your own. It’s your responsibility to update internal documents and procedures in time for the move.
- Address urgent safety issues. It could just be a loose handrail in your tenancy. Or perhaps there’s an electrical problem in a common area, or something doesn’t comply with safety standards. You’ll need to arrange for problems to be fixed prior to moving in.
- Adopt risk reduction measures. Perhaps it’s necessary for staff to wear protective clothing at the new site, or follow additional security protocols. As well as updating your internal documents and procedures to reflect these measures, make sure staff have been fully briefed before they hit the floor.
There’s no point investing in a swish new office design if you keep staff and customers in the dark about the practical implications of the move. To minimise disruptions and avoid inconveniencing people, it’s a good idea to:
- Give clients advance notice of your new address. How much notice will depend on the nature of your business and the potential impact of your move. For example, if you’re a freight forwarding company, your customers may need to know weeks ahead. And don’t forget to update your company stationery and online presence with the new contact details.
- Share how to get to and from the new site. Where are the nearest public transport hubs? And does the new building offer parking facilities for staff and/or guests, as well as accessible entry.
- Inform customers of logistical issues. Perhaps the new site comes with a loading dock. Access may be 24/7 or limited to certain times of the day. And what about congestion in the area? Are there any periods when customers should avoid making deliveries?
- Look into local amenities. Your employees will appreciate knowing where they can get a coffee, grab some lunch or enjoy a workout. You could also approach local businesses to negotiate discount deals. Better still, prepare an orientation pack for staff with all the relevant info.
Even in the midst of an office fit-out, it’s important you don’t lose sight of your obligations to staff and customers. A bit of forward planning goes a long way to keeping everyone safe and on side as you transition from one site to another.