When a large oil producer announced in 2012 that they were relocating and consolidating all their employees to their headquarters in Houston, TX, it was met with great resistance and frustration. Nearly 2,100 employees, their spouses and families were faced with the reality of a new life in Texas. Over the past year here in the Washington, DC region, I have had several friends and colleagues who have been affected by this move and have been leaving the area.
I’ve worked with many companies that have gone through this transition over the past several decades and it seems that no matter what, your workplace is inevitably affected in ways both good and bad.
Over the past three decades many organizations have built business models that ensure a physical presence in many locations across the nation. With the rise of technology and an increase of remote working environments, many companies are re-evaluating the cost effectiveness of relocating employees while they explore the feasibility of instead moving them to a remote workforce.
There certainly are pros and cons to both strategies. In the past, I’ve written about the upside of a remote workforce and remote leadership teams. So for the purposes of this blog, I’d like to focus on two things that may give organizations pause before deciding to relocate everyone to a single location.
You will probably need to replace some of your best employees
Asking a sizeable portion of your workforce to pick up and move their entire lives will inevitably result with employees that decide the move isn’t worth the personal sacrifice. Sometimes there is no amount of compensation in the form of relocation bonuses that is enough to move the needle when you are asking your employees to move their families, change jobs, schools, etc. Ultimately, organizations need to be prepared to recruit and subsequently train a new batch of employees.
Your workplace culture will change in ways you never expected
Regardless of the size of an organization, it’s extremely difficult to implement a standardized workplace culture. Different offices, different cities, different vibes impact different locations with sometimes stark contrasts when it comes to workplace culture. Uplifting and reintegrating an amalgamation of multiple cultures, personalities and outlooks can lead to a challenging work environment. Organizations need to be prepared to take great strides to implement programs to ensure that relocated employees feel a sense of satisfaction in their decision to move.
No organization makes the decision to centralize their workforce lightly, and we’d be naïve to suggest that organizations shouldn’t make this choice if it’s helping the bottom line. However, while HR will often be at the forefront of making this move happen, they shouldn’t be solely focused on the relocation portion of this endeavor. They need to be thinking beyond the relocation to what inevitably may be the most challenging aspect of the entire move, the impact on the employees, and what can be done to mitigate any challenges that arise as a result of the relocation.