Every workplace goes through changes that affect where and how employees work. Usually, these changes are small, like when a new employee joins the team, or someone gets let go. But sometimes, office transitions take place on a much larger scale, moving dozens or even hundreds of employees to new workstations.
Maybe your customer service department has grown, and since their current space doesn’t have enough workstations, you need to move the entire department to a new floor. Perhaps the lack of synergy between your marketing and development departments is creating friction, and you want to temporarily relocate them to the same space. Or what if your entire company needs to move into a new office building?
Whatever the scale, these transitions all fall under what organizations refer to as “moves, adds, and changes,” or MAC, also known more informally as move management. No matter how small, MAC requests involve a series of moving pieces that depend on clear communication and organization.
It seems simple enough: you just move an employee from one desk to another, right? But handling move management poorly can cause significant disruptions to your workplace, and frustrations for employees.
An employee may arrive at a workstation that doesn’t have internet access or the equipment they need to do their job, resulting in downtime. If an employee shows up at their new workstation while another person is still working there—or worse, multiple employees think they’re moving to the same workstation—it can create conflict and ongoing tension. And if employee directories aren’t up to date and the changes haven’t been communicated through the right channels, coworkers may not learn that someone has moved until they show up in the wrong place to meet them. (Imagine: you move into a coworker’s former office, and for weeks various people knock on your door expecting to speak with them.)
Effective move management, by contrast, minimizes the downtime and frustrations workplace transitions cause and even reduces the time the entire process takes. This article will cover nine keys to effective move management to help you make smoother workplace transitions.
But first, let’s establish what move management encompasses.
Move management is the ongoing process of planning and coordinating transitions in where or how an employee, group of employees, or entire employee population works within an office or from one office to another.
Traditionally, move management has primarily involved moving a person from one space to another, but in the hybrid workplace, move management can also involve transitioning from one workplace model to another. For example, moving someone from a dedicated workstation to a shared group of desks that includes their previous workstation.
MAC requests can be top-down, such as when an executive or director wants to move a department. Depending on a company’s policies, they can also come from individual employees who want to work at a different workstation. Space planning teams typically handle move management, but some smaller organizations may leave the tasks to administrators or managers.
Sometimes move management involves working with outside vendors to acquire furniture or specialized equipment. It will likely involve coordinating tasks with your facilities team, IT department, or even the mail room. Various other parties will have some level of involvement, potentially including the employee(s) being moved. There may be layers of approval before moves can proceed or required items can be ordered.
While move management looks slightly different at every organization, the goals and components are fundamentally the same. When done right, it’s like lining up dominoes and then watching them fall into place.
Straightforward as it seems, move management can be incredibly complex—and disruptive. Ensuring it goes smoothly every time requires the right combination of policies, tools, and processes.
Here are Tango’s nine keys to effective move management.
One of the most common problems in an organization’s move management process is that only a handful of people (or only one individual) can request and facilitate moves, adds, and changes. In a small company, MAC requests may be rare enough that a bottleneck doesn’t create problems. But if you’re managing hundreds or thousands of employees across multiple floors or buildings, you don’t want this burden to fall to a few people.
There are good reasons why some move management responsibilities need to fall to specific people—you may have concerns about who has access to specific tools and documents, or who has the authority to approve transitions. But move management involves pieces and steps that anyone can handle with proper direction. To some degree, the right organizational structure can make this a “self-serve” process, where anyone can submit MAC requests, and with the necessary approval, proceed with facilitating communications and initiating the required steps.
Every time there’s a change in your workplace, it can affect multiple databases. Obviously, you’ll want to update your employee directory and any other systems that communicate where employees are located. But your move may have also changed your inventory or impacted budgets for equipment. Plus, you’ll want to confirm that the workstation an employee moves to no longer appears available, and that the vacant workstation is available.
Often, these details fall through the cracks, which creates challenges down the road. An employee may request to move to a workstation that’s already occupied (because your system shows it’s available). Employees may show up in the wrong places to meet with each other. Or, an employee might request a piece of equipment you don’t know that you don’t have. You may even have an unoccupied workstation marked as unavailable, wasting space until someone notices.
One important way to avoid this problem is to make your floor plans visible to employees online, allowing you to crowdsource data maintenance. Your administrators, for example, often need to direct people to specific employees and help people track down the things they need. Giving administrators visibility into your moves, adds, and changes enables them to correct inaccurate information before it causes disruptions. And if an employee encounters a problem due to an outdated floor plan (such as going to the wrong workstation to meet a colleague), they can update the floor plan themselves or submit a change to someone with permissions.
Managing transitions is complicated. But requesting them doesn’t have to be. Too often, an employee who wants to make a MAC request has to essentially initiate the same request with multiple parties—management, space planners, facilities, IT, administrators, etc.
The more difficult it is to request moves, the fewer move requests you’ll receive. That may sound nice, but the reality is that it hurts employee morale and hinders your organization’s ability to optimize your space. There’s too much friction between employees and their preferred work environment.
Not to mention, you’ll wind up with frustrated members of the leadership team. An executive, director, or even manager should feel like they can make a request once and trust that the process will move forward.
Ideally, your move management system should be a one-stop shop for MAC requests, enabling anyone to easily start the process. Here’s how it looks in Tango Space, our comprehensive space management software with built-in MAC functionality.
With how many people can be involved in managing a single move, it’s easy for someone to wind up working from outdated information—especially if there are multiple email threads that not all parties have access to. Even if everyone is cc’d on all those email threads, all it takes is for someone to respond to the wrong thread or forget to reply all to cause miscommunication.
Not everyone needs to be part of every conversation about a move. But the parts of the conversation that are relevant to all parties should be visible, current, and easily accessible so that people don’t waste time and create problems by working from outdated information or waiting for a response that didn’t get passed along to the right person.
In Tango Space, anyone who has permissions and needs to see the status of a MAC request can easily see all the relevant communication in one place.
Unless you ask, you may not know if there’s a problem with your move management process. And if there are problems, you want to find out as soon as possible to avoid replicating them at scale and over time. As employees transition to their new work situation, your move management process should include a follow-up survey.
This could ask them to rate their experience with the move, or it could involve open-ended questions that let them share more personal feedback. Your goal is to learn where you could create a smoother, more effective process.
Was everything the employee wanted available when they moved?
Did they experience any challenges that prevented them from starting work at their new location?
How do they feel about their new work environment?
How easy was the move? Were the instructions clear?
You’ll also want to periodically survey employees who play other roles in the move management process. If you use outside vendors, such as a moving company, service provider, or equipment supplier, how was the experience for employees who had to interact with them? Should you continue using the same vendors? Do they seem equipped to handle a larger move?
These surveys will help you refine your processes, avoid repeating mistakes, and prevent disasters.
Many businesses rely on manual processes to manage moves. They use a combination of emails, Slack channels, spreadsheets, and work orders to set transitions in motion. When the move is done, they manually update floor plans, inventory lists, employee directories, and other affected systems.
The problem, of course, is that move management is reliant on accurate data, and handling it this way leaves a lot of room for error. Someone could use the wrong version of a spreadsheet, leave someone out of an important email, or simply forget to update a database. And even with great email filters and folders in place, there are several disparate places where people have to keep track of information and communication.
Space management software with MAC functionality centralizes this entire process, organizing everything your move, add, and change requests need into a single intuitive dashboard. Giving employees the access they need to make requests and complete move management tasks shifts the burden from your space planning team to the people who actually want to make changes. Your space planning team simply oversees and approves the changes rather than becoming bottlenecks for coordinating every move.
With basic integration, tools like Tango Space can also update all the information relating to your move at once. As soon as the move is complete, your databases, inventory lists, floor plans, and directories all reflect the accurate data—no need to manually verify each change and update every system.
The goals of move management are to coordinate and implement changes in the least time, and to reduce downtime by eliminating errors and inefficiencies. Software is the best way to streamline the process and reach these goals.
The more visibility employees have into a workstation’s accommodations and the factors that affect their satisfaction, the more empowered they are to make informed decisions—and the happier they’ll be with those decisions.
You don’t want people requesting moves into workstations that don’t have the equipment they need. And you don’t want people to be less satisfied with their workplace after making a transition. You also don’t want multiple employees requesting the same workstation, or requesting workstations that currently have occupants!
When you can give employees all the information available about a workstation and everyone can trust that information to be current, your move management process becomes far more effective.
If there’s a way for employees to circumvent your move management process, they’re going to do it. Even when you’ve made things as convenient as possible, you’ll inevitably have some employees who “did things differently somewhere else” or want to lean on a personal relationship or leverage their authority.
Your move management process needs to be backed by formalized policies and the authority of your leadership team. Otherwise your space planning teams will get emails asking them to “just make it happen.” And once people learn that this is a viable path to getting new workstations or coveted rooms, the burden of responsibility shifts back to your space planning team, and they lose other valuable opportunities to optimize your workplace.
Move management and scenario planning go hand-in-hand. But unfortunately, many vendors separate these space management functions into completely different tools. Especially with complex moves and changes involving 100 or more employees, planning is a critical part of the process. You don’t just want to make a change; you want to make the best possible change. And that requires scenario planning, so you can see the configurations that best satisfy your various needs, intentions, and parameters.
With Tango Space, MAC and scenario planning are part of the same tool. As your scenario planning leads you to the best ways to utilize your space, you can immediately transition to coordinating and implementing moves, adds, or changes.
Move management is just one of the many processes Tango Space helps facilitate. Whether you’re rearranging departments, planning for the future, or just wanting to make the best use of your space, everything you need is in one convenient system. You can visualize your existing space, manage reservations, track how each space is being used, incorporate IoT data, plan for what-if scenarios, forecast for future space requirements, and keep your office space running smoothly.
Want to see what Tango Space can do for your organization?