For public sector employees, machinery of government changes can be a source of a great deal of anxiety about changes in job responsibilities, reporting structure, and (possibly worst of all) having to relocate to a new workspace.
For property teams within government departments, machinery of government changes can be even more stressful. That’s because you not only have to worry about your own job, but you’re suddenly facing a great deal more work: managing relocations of the shifting workforce and finding new space for any new departments and agencies. It’s a monumental task, and one that needs to be accomplished at lightning speed.
In large corporations, churn is also a way of life and property teams are tasked with moving them around while minimising work disruption. But in the public sector, you regularly face an even more difficult challenge: moving large numbers of people at the drop of a hat. With machinery of government changes, you often won’t know what’s coming until the change is publicly announced.
In addition to moves resulting from machinery of government, public sector departments are expected to help each other out with their space needs, such as subleasing available space to each other. It’s not unheard of for departments to swap space when one is growing and the other getting smaller. That means even more relocations.
In the process of working with Australian government departments for a decade, Serraview has learned a thing or two about making these transitions faster and easier. Here’s some advice we think will help, as well as specific steps for smoothing and speeding the process of relocating groups after a machinery of government change.
Technology is the key to smoothing churn after machinery of government changes
This advice is probably not a surprise to you: technology always seems to be the way to make things faster and easier. For government agencies in particular, getting new technology implemented can be a challenge. We’re here to tell you—not just because we develop this technology, but because we’ve seen the results time and time again—that it’s well worth the effort. Here’s how to make it happen.
STEP 1: Implement technology to get your house in order
You’ve probably heard the old adage: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Whomever coined that phrase probably never imagined it would be used to describe technology. But it’s true: implementing the right technology helps you be prepared for machinery of government changes. And that preparation can make a world of difference in speeding and managing the process when you have to implement those massive relocations.
Since you’re not likely get much warning about machinery of government changes, the key to reacting quickly is having an accurate picture of your current occupancy. If you don’t have this information today, it will take you much longer to figure out how to accommodate potentially thousands of new people. Now is the time to get your house in order with a workplace management tool that provides you with a trustworthy source of record for occupancy data. You’ll be in the best position to handle whatever comes when you know where your people are and how much vacancy currently exists.
Here are some tips about features to look for:
Self-service portal: Speed data collection by providing an easy way for departments to enter, update and validate their data. They will WANT to do it when they see the reports you can provide them in return.
Utilisation tracking: If you’re facing restrictions on getting some teams to enter data, you can import badge swipe data or implement computer network monitoring software to collect utilisation data automatically.
Related article: What’s New in Smart Building Technology: Occupancy Sensors
Scenario modeling: If you’re getting wind that changes are coming, you want access to tools that help you prepare multiple possible scenarios for accommodating machinery of government changes.
STEP 2: Gather new data
When the word comes down about changes impacting your department, you won’t have to panic since you have your workplace management system and your occupancy data in place. So what comes next?
Now is the time to gather new information: both the digital kind and the human kind. If you’re lucky, your workplace management software company might help you with the digital part (gathering and importing the data about the new teams you need to accommodate). That’s how you’ll find out about the numbers of people and how their teams are currently structured.
Here’s some important advice: don’t stop there. Get in touch with leaders, representatives and space champions for the new teams affected by the machinery of government changes. That often means EAs and PAs, who you want to make your new best friends. They can tell you about important things to know about the teams being moved, such as which teams would benefit from being aligned, which can’t sit together, and what important goals and initiatives they are working on that might impact the relocation.
STEP 3: Create a relocation plan
Once you know for certain how much vacancy you have, as well as the numbers and needs of those you need to accommodate, it’s time to create a plan for the relocation.
Spend some time (but not too much time, you’ll be under pressure to get started) modeling a few scenarios to see which option provides the best balance of cost effectiveness and time to implement. You will be able to see where your existing vacancy can accommodate the new changes. Your workplace management software will come in handy now, when you can easily restack your floors to create a contiguous space for the new group. Don’t forget to take into account the intelligence info you learned from your space champions when creating seating plans and move schedules.
Another option to consider when working through possible solutions for machinery of government changes, especially when it looks like you don’t have enough space, is a move to agile working. Moving from an assigned seating model to a free address space might be the solution you need to accommodate a new department without adding footprint.
To learn more about moving to agile working, read this related article:
10 Keys to Success with the Agile Work Environment
For more tips about creating relocation plans, read this related article:
Office Relocation Planning: Keeping Your Move On Track, Part 1
STEP 4: Communicate
Moving makes employees anxious, and machinery of government changes make the whole situation even more stressful. When entire departments are moving and restructuring, there’s a great deal of change management that needs to take place. Communication can smooth the transition by helping people be prepared for what’s coming and easing their fears.
You really can’t communicate too much in preparation for a relocation. There are give and take aspects to this communication: listening and gathering intelligence, and proactively providing helpful information to affected employees. We previously mentioned the “take” part: making friends with representatives of the new departments to learn about their needs. Now it’s time for giving back. One of the most efficient and effective ways to do this is by setting up automated email communications for everyone involved in the relocation.
Technology can make this task vastly simpler. Just set up different templates providing need-to-know information for each affected group, and schedule them to go out at the right time according to the relocation plan.
You’ll also need to communicate information to other parties involved in implementing the relocation, such as removalists. Technology can make this step simple as well, when you can easily generate reports with all the information they need.
STEP 5: Provide move day support
Even with the best relocation plan, you’re bound to hit a few snags on move day. This is especially true for moves caused by machinery of government changes, since you’re moving so many with so little time to get ready. Once again, the trick is to be prepared and provide support for dealing with issues.
Establish support points-of-contact for different types of issues in advance, such as IT issues or finding lost items. Then communicate that information to everyone (using one of your email templates!) prior to move day. On the day itself, people may not have comm set up so you’ll need support staff walking the floors to help people out.
Your goal should be to minimise work disruption as much as possible. Postpone problems that are not business-critical, and focus on getting people back to work.
Related article: Office Relocation Checklist for Successfully Executing Your Move
Implementing workplace technology: How long does it take?
Here’s the good news: you still have time to be ready for the next general election and the resulting machinery of government changes. Today’s best in class workplace management software can be up and running in months, rather than years like some older IWMS systems you might be considering.
Time to implement and achieve value is just one of the critical features you must consider when evaluating workplace management tools.