Moving offices – how to “translate” your office culture to a new location?
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Carry Your History With You
Find some way to incorporate, or even accentuate, meaningful relics or traditions from the past. It is important that we don’t forget where we come from as we move on and make forward progress.
2. Culture Is About the People, Not the Place
Our team at Hubstaff is 100 percent remote, which is why we believe that culture is created through the employees and not necessarily the space the employees are occupying. We hire people who are a good fit for our company, make our core values known, and remind our team of those values every day. Soon our employees buy into the culture. They can take that with them wherever they decide to work from.
3. Keep the Principles and Values While Staying Flexible
As a leadership consultant, I’ve encountered many companies that have struggled to translate their culture from one office to another. This is like trying to bring the sunshine and heat of Los Angeles to Chicago in the winter. Instead of trying to copy and past the culture, lead with your principles and values. These are non-negotiable. Then allow the culture to naturally evolve and bloom.
4. Watch Social Cues and Ask Questions
You must learn how to operate in the culture when you move to a new location if you want to be successful. You do this by observing social cues and how people interact. Body language doesn’t differ between cultures, so learn how to read it. And above all else, ask questions. You can say something like, “I observed people do X when Y happens. Is that correct?”
5. Survey Your Staff
Find out what they currently like and what they don’t like. Keep the things that are currently working for your team and introduce new fun things like a Ping-Pong table or a foosball table based on their recommendations. Obviously, they have to make sense and be on brand.
6. Create a Collaborative Environment
Culture is best defined by the employees themselves, but office space affects this as well. Your office space should reflect the culture you want. At EVENTup, we have created a fun, collaborative work culture through our open floor plan, the usage of white boards, breaks at the Ping-Pong table, and maintaining our fully stocked kitchen of snacks and drinks.
7. Treat Your Culture as the Most Fragile Thing on the Moving Truck
Your corporate culture is the foundation of your company. When moving offices, you need to treat your culture as the most fragile thing on the truck. To make sure that it arrives intact, set up some familiar spaces for the team with items they’ll recognize upon arrival, keep routine meetings and events the same, and check with your team often to make sure nothing is missing or lacking.
8. Celebrate With a Ribbon Cutting
One of the symbolic ways of celebrating a change in location for your office is to hold a ribbon cutting. You should invite your local Chamber of Commerce, mayor, congressman or congresswoman and other community leaders. Take the opportunity to communicate with your employees and the community what you do and what your company stands for. This way your culture will move with you.
9. Create a “Human” Handbook
In addition to an “official” employee handbook, we built a “human” handbook that clearly communicates the organization’s values and establishes ground rules of how we operate and interact as a team. It sets expectations like “when conferencing from home, turn on your video.” This creates clear expectations for employees to operate within and helps to maintain our culture as we grow.
10. Blend Your Teams
Expanding to a new office is an exciting yet delicate endeavor. Blending more recent hires with tenured employees can assist in stretching and extending your culture through the transition. Those beloved aspects from the original company culture can be spread throughout the new location by those who know it best.
11. Get Your Employees Involved
We recently moved to a new location and got our employees involved in the process by brainstorming best areas for an office. This will truly make them feel like they are a part of the company and not just a number. When you have your employees contribute to the process, it creates a coalition which translates into loyalty, and loyalty and reduces turnover.