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6 Steps to Successful Change Management in Office Fit Out

Workspace Design & Build Change Management

We've all been there. You were asked to lead a major project for your company, and you were excited about the impact it would have on your company. However, it fell flat because the wider team weren't engaged. There wasn’t a lot of conflict or resistance, but the expected benefits never materialised. The reason for this wasn’t bad planning or poor execution. It was down to a lack of change management - the "people part" of your project.


Unfortunately, we see this all too often in design & build projects. Huge investment is put into an amazing workspace. However, it has little impact on the company because their staff weren't educated and engaged about the change.


Moving or refurbishing your office is a huge change in the working lives of your people. If you don't manage them through the change, you'll get staff uncertainty, dissatisfaction, and churn.


To avoid this, you need a change management plan. That's why this article will walk you through the 6 steps of effectively managing your people through a fit out. By the end, you'll know how to manage your people through the change, maximising the impact of your project.


Define Your Workspace Strategy

Before you begin planning your fit out project, you need to create (or review) your workspace strategy. Your workspace strategy is an overall vision and framework for your workspaces over the next 3-10 years.


Such a strategy will give you a long-term view and clear direction when making decisions. It will also save time and money by building alignment and eliminating mistakes.


To create your own workspace strategy, you need to review your overall company strategy. You should work with leadership and staff to get input and alignment. From that foundation, you can then create a vision and plan for your real estate that aligns with your overall company strategy.


The appropriate format and layout will vary from company to company. However, the crucial thing is that you have a relevant workspace strategy that your team are aligned on. Learn more about how to create a workspace strategy by reading this article.


Assess The Impact

Your next step should be to identify who is most impacted by your proposed project. You can then evaluate the impact on their roles and responsibilities within your company. This is crucial, because if you don’t understand how the working lives of your people will change, you won't be able to understand their perspective. As a result, you won't be able to anticipate and manage their concerns, leading to resistance and conflict.


For all your teams, compare their current situation with the proposed situation from their perspective. This will enable you to understand how they might view the change. You can then plan to maximise benefits and minimise drawbacks for them. You could also go through this process for key individuals in your company.


Understanding the viewpoints of your people will enable you to see the situation from all perspectives. As a result, you can then manage the change in a much more balanced way.


Engage With Stakeholders

Staff engagement is the single most important part of your office design & build project. Regardless of how much cost has been saved or how stunning the design is, if your people aren’t supportive, the project will fail.


Engagement is more than compliance - it's buy-in for the change. This matters because if your people are engaged, they will always be looking for ways to make the project work - not ways to make it fail.


To maximise stakeholder engagement in your fit out, involve staff and managers alike in the planning process. This is especially true for any key individuals identified in the previous stage. You can do this through online staff surveys, focus groups, and 1-to-1 interviews. This will enable you to understand what is holding them back with their current space, and what would make them more effective.


Throughout this process, you will have to ensure that input doesn't turn into control. If too many people have too much influence, your project will become much slower and conflict is more likely. However, people will be more supportive of the change if they have been listened to, regardless of the outcome.


Communicate Effectively

Communication is fundamental to effective change management for your office fit out. If your people don’t know or understand what is going on, they will be indifferent at best, and resistant at worst.


To ensure good communication throughout your project, you need a comprehensive communication plan. A helpful framework is the RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, informed) matrix. Those involved in running the project will need to know a lot more than others. Likewise, executives will be interested in different information to staff.


Once you have decided the who and what parts of your communication, you need to define the how. This could be regular internal email updates or posts on your internal messaging platform. Effective communication will eliminate the uncertainty of the unknown and build alignment.


Train & Support

Another important component of change management is providing your people with training on how to use the new space. This matters because if your people don’t know how to use your new space, they wont be able to work effectively. If they are not supported, their concerns and issues will go unresolved.


You should consider how your new space is different from your current space. You can then inform them about the changes and train them on how to use the new space. Throughout the transition, you should make sure you people know where to go to have issues resolved. When your people feel prepared and supported, they will be a lot more receptive to change.


Monitor & Adjust

Change management isn't a project, it's a process. Supporting your people through the change requires time and effort to resolve issues and capitalise on opportunities.


To make sure that your monitoring & adjustment is effective, set up convenient feedback channels for your staff. They need a forum for feedback, concerns, and ideas, from the start of planning, throughout your project, and beyond. Post-implementation surveys can also increase support after the project. Doing this will ensure your employees feel valued and supported. As a result, you'll be able to maximise the ongoing success of your project.


Managing Your Fit Out Change

Amid the huge investment and logistical complexities of an office fit out, the people aspect can often be forgotten. However, this oversight can be hugely damaging. It could reduce or even derail the success of your project and severely reduce your office fit out ROI.


Following these 6 steps of change management will ensure your people understand the reasons for the change and are supportive of it. This will make the project a lot less stressful for you, and the end result a lot more beneficial for your company.


Fundamentally, your office is about bringing your people together to work more effectively. Their performance defines the success of your office fit out project. As a result, effective change management is a crucial part of a successful office fit out.


Change management is a key function of workspace consultancy. To learn all you need to know about workspace consultancy and why it matters, download your Ultimate Guide to Workspace Consultancy. To learn more about managing people through your office fit out, read Who Do I Need to Involve in my Office Fit Out?





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