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January 26, 2011 -
Today's tip: When a big change is coming, a change management plan can make the entire process run much more smoothly.
It's a cliché to say that the only constant in the business world today is change, but that doesn’t make it less true. As a facility manager, you may find yourself involved in projects that will require significant changes on the part of building occupants. And those changes may not be welcome. The move to an open office setting, for example, can easily provoke dissatisfaction. Even less dramatic changes can also lead to problems. Changes to the physical workplace almost always disrupt the routines of both individuals and teams. The stress, confusion, resentment and downtime can cause the best-laid plans to fail in implementation, or worse, linger on with negative impact for long periods of time, sometimes resulting in attrition. The result can be lost productivity, lowered morale, increased management cost and management distraction, since individuals feel a loss of control from familiar surroundings and adjacencies.
Caught up in all the tasks required to create a new workspace, facility managers may fail to step back to see the big picture: that even the best designed workplace may fail without a well thought-out change management strategy. The International Workplace Studies Program at Cornell University took an indepth look at that issue. They found that a greater investments in change management increased the level of employee satisfaction with new workplaces. In fact, greater investment per employee can more than double the employee commitment to the new workplace strategy.
Without a change management plan, employees will eventually adapt to change, but not as quickly. Risks of not using a change management program include loss of productivity, lower morale and higher turnover, as well as the opportunity cost of missing great ideas from the entire team. While it may demand some additional time and resources, the resulting benefits and risk avoidance make change management strategies valuable elements of any workplace move.