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At Man With A Van, we’ve helped to facilitate many office relocations. On the day of the move, most employees will take advantage of the opportunity to work from home. But when the time comes to get back to work in the new location, will everything run as smoothly?
Employees might object to an office move because it adds to their commute time, it might be less convenient to get to, or it might not be in a very vibrant area. For example, moving from an inner city address to an out-of-town business park could make life very difficult for those who don’t own a car.
In this blog post, we will look at office relocation employee rights and how to make relocating employees as stress-free as possible. If you’re on the cusp of a move and want the help of expert office movers in London, get in touch with Man With A Van today!
Check for mobility clauses
Many employment contracts will include something known as a mobility clause. This allows the employer to change the place of work either permanently or temporarily in line with company requirements. In the case of an office move, a mobility clause will be incredibly useful.
While mobility clauses might be a part of your employment contracts, they don’t give you a free pass to do whatever you want. For example, you can’t move your office to another country and expect your workers to move with 1 day’s notice.
If there is a mobility clause, employees who refuse to move offices can be found in breach of their contract. In terms of employee relocation laws, this would allow you to dismiss employees. The problem is that mobility clauses are often vague in their wording. They can be difficult to rely on as the wording is often quite general.
Consider the legal implications
If you do not have a mobility clause, or if the mobility clause is unlikely to apply to your situation, you may need to consider office relocation redundancy. Employees who are unable or unwilling to move may be eligible for a redundancy payment. Those who decide to move may be entitled to relocation expenses.
Either way, this is delicate territory and is best handled with HR and employment solicitors on hand. There will often be the need for compromise, which might mean allowing your employees to work from home on occasion, or allowing them to change roles so they do not need to relocate.
Can your employer force you to move locations?
The only way an employer can force their workers to move to a new office is with a mobility clause in their contract. To get around this, many employers will try to present the office move as an upgrade. If the new site will have better facilities or improved transport links, this can be framed as an employee benefit. There is always a way to repackage news of a move into something positive for everyone.
The numbers are in your favour
According to market insight guide Clutch, just 7% of employees say that an office relocation has a negative impact on them. Instead of focussing all of your attention on the small percentage of people who are negatively impacted, it could be more beneficial to switch your focus to how the move is going to help the other 93% of your workforce.
By presenting the office move in the right way you could help to encourage a more positive reaction. Even those facing a longer commute time might be swayed by the potential positives of the move. Instead of allowing news of the move spread around the office like gossip, it should be the subject of a carefully planned internal communications campaign.
How do you announce a business relocation?
An office relocation announcement should happen in two parts. First, you have to announce the move to your employees in a sensitive yet positive way. Next, you need to make a public announcement so that your customers, suppliers, clients and even your competitors have a clear idea when you are moving and how to reach you during the transition.
Give plenty of notice
Make sure you announce the move in plenty of time to give your employees the opportunity to make plans. This will also give your employees the chance to air their issues which you can hopefully help to solve.
Never assume that the move will be simple for everyone. Adding just 15 minutes commute time each way adds up to two-and-a-half hours each week, which is around 10 hours per month. You also need to consider those with disabilities as an office move could disproportionately affect them.
Encourage your employees to give feedback on the move so that you can understand their concerns. For example, moving from an inner city area to a business park might mean there are fewer food shops for employees to purchase lunch. This could mean you will need to improve the office kitchen in the new location.
Consider the reasonable travelling distance to work
When thinking about the change to commute times, you might be wondering what is considered to be a reasonable travelling distance to work. There is no official statistic to help backup your stance, but research has shown that workers are willing to commute up to 45 minutes each way if it means living in a nicer area. Any longer, and it starts to look like a pay cut in terms of job satisfaction.
Make allowances for a loss of productivity
During the office relocation, you can expect significant disruption to your business. It’s important that you let your employees know that this is to be expected so that they don’t shoulder this burden.
When relocating employees, you may also need to be more lenient with office working hours while your team gets used to the new commute. Imagine an employee would normally drop their children off at school on the way to the office, but the new office is 15 minutes in the opposite direction. This employee may need to make arrangements at home or alter their normal working hours to manage the change.
Think about the benefits
Moving offices could lead to a boost in employee productivity, so it’s important that you’re ready to capitalise on this as soon as possible. By making and keeping to an office move plan, your employees will feel ready to hit the ground running in an inspiring new environment. The distraction of the move will be short lived, so once your workers are accustomed to their new commute and working environment, you can find ways to utilise the new space to its full potential.
With a little planning and feedback from your team, an office move can be stress-free and positive for everyone involved. If you’re planning an office move and want help from an expert Man and Van team in London, get in touch today!