In October 2008, Amcor relocated 247 people from five separate office locations in Melbourne to a purpose-built office in Hawthorn, Melbourne.
Previous recent redundancies at one of the office sites caused concerns for many across all sites about job losses.
Also, a major requirement to reduce ‘office clutter’ given less storage availability at the new premises compounded the concern.
A communication program incorporating the key message ‘Transforming our Workplace’ was developed and implemented.
In addition to encouraging staff to reduce storage requirements by at least 30 per cent, it included tours of the new office.
It was well received and effective – employees embraced the relocation, reduced their individual storage requirements prior to the move and felt they were kept informed about the move.
In the week immediately prior to the relocation, al sites were ‘move ready’. There was virtually no down time associated with staff stopping work to clean up their office during the last week.
A site tour of the new office was well attended by representatives from all sites. Post tour feedback received was excellent.
Towards the end of 2008, Amcor, a global packaging Company, planned to consolidate five office locations into a single, purpose-built office in Hawthorn in Melbourne.
The project, known as One Australia, involved the relocation of 247 people.
While these employees traditionally did not accept change well, recent redundancies at one of the office sites caused concern for many across all sites to worry about future job losses as a result of the move.
In addition, a major requirement to reduce ‘office clutter’ given less storage availability at the new premises had the potential to reinforce the redundancy concerns.
Without addressing the issue, staff would find that their ‘belongings’ would not fit into the new office.
From Amcor’s perspective, the company would have wasted resources moving unnecessary materials, only to then have to relocate them again off site in storage.
A storage consultant was employed to analyse the storage situation across all offices.
The consultant’s review found each staff member on average used 7.38 lineal metres of storage. The industry average is 4.5 lineal metres. The new office allowed 4.7 lineal metres.
This identified what storage reduction targets were required to be communicated with staff.
Interviews were conducted with senior management and office managers to review communication mechanisms and to formulate appropriate communication materials.
An office relocation Intranet site was established to not only communicate key messages but monitor traffic to the site and employee interest.
Visitor numbers to the site in February and March demonstrated that staff were engaged and interested in the relocation, but by May the volume of traffic had reduced significantly. A site tour was identified as the best way to reinvigorate staff about the move. Follow-up research was undertaken involving key personnel to test this approach.
Amcor employees were the obvious primary audience for this communication strategy across all five sites to be relocated.
The demographics for all sites were quite similar with an even mix of males and females primarily falling into the 30 to 45-years-old age bracket.
The five sites were as follows:
· Abbotsford - corporate head office for Amcor globally - 88 staff.
· Camberwell - head office for Amcor Australasia, a subdivision of Amcor Corporate and was one of the biggest Amcor offices in Melbourne - 101 employees.
· East Burwood - an Amcor Australasia site - 66 employees (predominantly male, half of who were to be moved to the new office).
· Alphington – a small Amcor site - 18 employees.
· Moorabbin - another small Amcor site – seven employees.
While each site was regarded as a separate entity, there were two key groups across all sites that were targeted – senior managers and office managers.
The senior managers are responsible for individual site management. Their support was therefore crucial. Each site also had one key person that operated in either an official or unofficial capacity as office manager. These office managers were site champions for the communication program and attended regular meetings with the One Australia project team. As a result, they received relevant information first-hand, and were able to support staff through the change process.
Management at both levels were targeted to provide ‘on the ground’ information about their individual site and to identify appropriate communication materials / mechanisms.
It was important to reinforce to staff that redundancies were not being considered. This message was to feature prominently in all communication.
The overall key message was determined as ‘Transforming our Workplace’, taking account of both the move and the clean-up effort required. This was also to be featured in all communication.
Amcor’s executive management team wanted to see staff working together – a core Amcor value – and excited about the office relocation / change process.
While staff were curious about the move, history demonstrated that they were adverse to change and time poor.
Senior site management and office management were therefore identified as important targets to “set the tone for their colleagues”.
On site communications in high-profile, central locations were identified as important.
Online communication was also important and seen as an effective means of delivering the messages given the office demographics – an even mix of males and females aged between 30 and 45.
A series of posters were developed and placed on specific One Australia noticeboards (coloured orange - the signature colour for all One Australia communication materials) – to inform / update. (See Appendix A for examples.)
Posters were also used to indicate when an area had been ‘transformed’ in preparation for the move.
Weekly One Australia project emails were distributed to all employees by the Project Manager to keep employees up to date about the new office development and informed about the clean-up progress. (See Appendix A for examples.)
Senior management and site champions (members of the One Australia project team) communicated with employees ‘one-on-one’ to reinforce the messages delivered via email.
Collateral materials were prepared for employees to ‘take home’, including a brochure that outlined key features of the new office and basic floor plans. (See Appendix A.)
A site tour was held at lunchtime in mid-May to ensure as many people as possible could attend. Amcor transported staff to the new office. The visit included organised group tours, a light lunch, a questions and answers session involving the Project Manager and CEO and free time to wander around the new offices.
Given the office was a ‘shell’ at the time of the tour, office furniture was sourced and prominent Amcor branding was placed throughout to break up the space.
Posters were also prepared and hung from the ceiling that ‘signposted’ what areas employees were walking through and featured general facts about the new office.
For staff who could not attend the tour, a summary of the event, including photographs, was distributed.
The office move occurred on 6 October with minimal disruption. Immediately after the relocation, operations were smooth.
By the time of the move, the company’s employees had reduced their individual storage requirements to 4.17 lineal metres (a 40 per cent reduction). This saved moving an additional 446 crates of office material, saving an estimated $267,000 on storage unit costs. An additional $5000 was saved in moving costs (a modest amount in dollar terms but important given the crates that did not require moving).
All sites were represented at the site inspection tour. Sixty per cent of employees attended the tour, including all members of the executive management team. Employees who did not attend received a detailed report (including photographs) to ensure they were as informed as those who were able to attend.
A survey of employees was conducted prior to the move. An overwhelming 95 per cent of comments received were positive, including:
- “The tour was useful. Got a feel for how it will be in five months time.”
- “…very well organised. Great to see the new offices.”
- “Great idea to keep us all involved. I wish the move was sooner.”
On a scale of 1-10 where 10 was ‘really excited’, the average response to the question about how excited staff were regarding the office relocation was 7.5.
Eighty three per cent of staff indicated the tour was either effective or very effective in keeping employees informed about the office move.
As outlined in the Results, by the time of the move, the company’s employees had reduced their individual storage requirements to 4.17 lineal metres (a 40 per cent reduction). This saved moving an additional 446 crates of office material, saving an estimated $267,000 on storage unit costs. These were important outcomes given the objective to reduce office clutter by 30 per cent.
In the week leading up to the relocation, all sites were prepared for the move. There was virtually no down time associated with staff stopping work to clean up their office / work space in that final week.
The tour was kept to less than three hours – on average the down time per staff member was 1.5 hours.
One hundred and fifty six employees attended the tour – about 60 per cent. All sites were well represented, and all members of the executive management team attended, including the CEO.