The transition to remote and hybrid work arrangements—where employees may be onsite only a few days each week or month, or not at all in some cases—led to a great number of benefits, both for employers and workers. Companies have more flexibility to manage their real estate assets, with options to convert excess office space into areas that better suit their long-term needs. For their part, employees that work from home (WFH) report having more control over their work/life balance, enabling them to manage family care and other needs on their own terms.
But for project teams trying to plan and execute initiatives that include desk relocations, remote work has created new challenges around onsite efforts. Groups tasked with overseeing tightly orchestrated checkerboard moves face even more difficulties.
Below we’ve outlined a couple of common desk relocation issues project teams are likely to encounter, with tips to tackle these obstacles and keep your initiatives on track in the WFH world.
Challenge: No one is around to pack their desk items before their scheduled move date.
With so many people working outside the office, your team may discover that few are willing to come onsite simply to box up their office areas for the relocation. End users have long viewed packing for desk moves as wasted time, and calling folks into the office for what is (to them) an unproductive day is not a winning strategy.
Try this: Carefully aligning each step of the relocation timeline with end users’ established schedules is key to maintaining forward momentum. Work with users to identify when they plan to be onsite—some may have adopted set office hours or days when they’re physically at their primary desk location, while others probably have pre-planned visits on the calendar for recurring team meetings, customer presentations, or other activities.
By orchestrating the relocation schedule with activities end users already plan to do, you enable them to combine their trips and reduce the perception of inefficiency. If their actual move then follows on a day they’ll be offsite, the disruption to their work activities will be further minimized.
Challenge: Workers don’t feel obligated to help relocate what is now a part-time desk.
In the era of remote work, fewer employees have full-time desks assigned to them at a central location. A greater percentage are likely to rely on hot desks, where an office serves only as a quiet place to plug in a laptop and hop on WiFi while they’re onsite. Even those with assigned desks may have less personal attachment to them, since the majority of their job duties are carried out remotely. And if their formal desk isn’t where they do most of their work, there’s less motivation for them to care about packing it up and helping with move coordination.
Try this: To maintain progress on relocation plans that have historically relied heavily on end user engagement, project teams need to look for other resources to fill the gaps. Savvy groups are increasingly turning to their partner network for tasks that are no longer a good fit for end users. Your furniture installation team or moving vendor, for example, may be better resources to ensure that standard desk items—technology hardware, under-desk cabinets, chairs, etc.—are packed and ready for relocation. This takes the burden off your internal stakeholders, whose lack of attachment to their onsite desks may make them less willing to put in the effort to prepare everything for the upcoming move. It also pulls additional value from your external collaborators who already have deep experience supporting these types of activities.