Many companies will eventually outgrow their current location. Maybe your startup team is doubling in size and you need a bigger office; maybe there’s a new market that you want to explore, so you’re simply opening up a second branch. Perhaps you’ve set your sights abroad.
But it’s easy for team members (current and future) to feel dislocated and disengaged. Whether they’re moving themselves, or just having to liaise with a brand-new department head in another city, a move can tax the very things that drove your growth in the first place — especially company culture and morale.
We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invitation-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, the following question to find out their advice for navigating a company move or expansion:
“If you plan to expand your business to a new location (one you bought or a new office entirely), what’s your best tip for making sure cultural issues don’t get the best of you — or your relocated team members?”
Here’s what YEC community members had to say:
1. Locate Smart
“Location plays a key role in business. It can determine who your customers will be, what your network is, and the talent you’ll be able to hire. So pick a location that you like. Pick a location that you can culturally identify with and enjoy going to. Unless you are doing a huge international expansion you should choose your location based on your brand DNA. Don’t get caught up in just cost.” ~ Raoul Davis, Ascendant Group
2. Share Experiences on Social Media
“Constant communication between teams helps ensure the culture is not lost. One thing that we do is have simultaneous, similar events. Last month we had a surprise event where the NY team stopped working and went to a Yankees game while our San Francisco team went to a Giants game. We were on opposite sides of the country, but got to have a similar experience shared through Twitter and Instagram.” ~ Bobby Emamian, Prolific Interactive
3. Find a Common Ground
“Regardless of where a business is located, the mission and values of the company’s work should serve as the common ground on which all team members can bond. Thinking Caps has offices in diverse cities, but all of our employees are focused on our common mission to help students be successful and Independence learners. The whole team is behind one common value.” ~ Alexandra Mayzler, Thinking Caps Tutoring
4. Study the Market
“In the spirits business, every state is like entering a new country. Before making a move or an expansion, it is crucial for business owners to understand the market dynamics. Hit the pavement and meet with key partners, visit customers and listen. These insights will help shape your business’s expansion or move.” ~ Nikhil Bahadur, Blue Nectar Spirits Company
5. Hire for a Common Vision
“Wherever you are creating offices and hiring employees, you should be hiring people who are agree with your vision for the company. Whether you’re looking to expand to the East Coast, the West Coast, Middle America or internationally, there are people who will fit your company culture and you should seek them out. ” ~ Zach Cutler, Cutler Group
6. Communicate Often and Offer Support
“We are, in fact, consolidating a number of offices and moving our headquarters to a newly built out space in New York City. We’ve been keeping employees posted on this move for weeks, and we’ve implemented ways to support people during the transition by giving our new VP of Internal Operations the authority to handle all concerns, questions, and complaints—as well as to receive creative input.” ~ Michael Seiman, CPX Interactive
“Our headquarters is currently in SF but we have offices in New York City and San Diego. Our employees love Yammer it and stay better connected to each other even across office locations. We share jokes, photos, YouTube videos, and more across offices to maintain our fun company culture.” ~ Jesse Pujji, Ampush
8. Mitigate Risk With Convenience
“There are a lot of risks with any move, whether down-the-block or across a continent, as “business as usual” will change. Work with your team to understand what about your current location is critical to their work product; try to build those features into the new spot. Maybe it’s locating near a highway for convenience, having a lot of windows for sunshine, or a fast printer!” ~ Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
9. No Suprises — Involve Employees Now
“Give your team the information way ahead of time. Whether it is when you consider it or when you start looking for space, by sharing with your team, you may find that someone can help you or has been through it before. Talk to your employees and see if they would go with you or if you can work something out with them. So while it’s an executive decision, don’t spring it on your team last minute.” ~ Aron Schoenfeld, Do It In Person LLC
Business Move Photo via Shutterstock
Even rearranging current office space can make employees feel isolated or ostracized if done improperly. If you’re hiring the right people they probably like working together so make sure you don’t create unnecessary distance (both literal and figurative).
You’ve written a great guide for small businesses to follow. It’s vital to keep the synergy of your employees in tact. Effective team work makes all the difference in how much and how fast a small business will grow. Thanks for sharing this.