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How to celebrate your new office space

See how communication, ambassadors and giveaways helped generate excitement about a new space at JLL.

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When we debuted two totally redesigned floors in our Chicago headquarters, we celebrated the occasion in grand fashion. The welcoming of 400 employees to their new workstations coincided with the opening of a new two-story lounge accessible from both floors. Designed exclusively for employee use, the lounge—named the Club—features unobstructed views of Lake Michigan, casual soft seating and (most importantly) a gourmet coffee and snack bar with a staff of dedicated baristas.

The Club’s debut marks the beginning of the third and final phase of the firm’s corporate headquarters redesign. With Phases 1 and 2 complete, the Club will help reinvigorate excitement about the space and serve as a magnet area for employees across the firm.

Visually, the Club needs no introduction. It’s a sophisticated, yet cozy gathering spot we knew our people would enjoy. But informing our people about its debut was only half the goal. More importantly, we wanted to get them excited about our new space.

How to celebrate your space

Here are a few things we learned about including employees in a space reveal and how to celebrate your new digs. As you move into a new space or introduce a cool new feature, we think you’ll find these tips useful for getting your own people in the celebratory mindset.

Communicate frequently

This is the mantra of change management. Communicate early and often to both generate excitement and minimize fear. Fear is admittedly more of a concern when you’re changing employees’ workstations, not debuting an in-office coffee shop. Still, regular communication keeps them informed of what to expect and eager for the reveal.

We began communicating about the Club opening several weeks in advance, including a calendar invite, email invitation and digital signage throughout the office. A 5-day countdown built anticipation for opening day and shared information on initiatives like a raffle, giveaways and special features to look forward to.

Find little ways to get people excited

You don’t need a grand gesture to win your employees’ attention. They’re probably naturally curious about the space already, so find small ways to keep them in the loop.

  • Pre open house: Send status updates on the space or keep a photo stream of progress. Schedule a few walkthroughs closer to completion. Let people see where they’ll be working and hanging out so they can visualize their new work life sooner.
  • Post open house: Supply everyone with a packet that details new features or destinations on the floor. On each day of the first week in your new space, schedule something special. Schedule events like the Club opening, Taco Tuesday, free bagels, social media giveaways or whatever suits your people and culture. Raffle off gift cards for local restaurants and businesses, or organize a scavenger hunt in the surrounding neighborhood. Anything that gets them to interact in the space and excited about showing up.

At the Club opening we offered breakfast, snacks, beverages and free coffee drinks all day, plus a voucher for their next visit. We held a raffle and themed giveaways for items like a Fitbit or a month of free coffee with even further incentives for the first 200 visitors. For ambience, we had music, branded videos and even a ribbon-cutting ceremony to generate buzz for this big milestone.

Include your people in the process

It’s nice to believe in the choices your leadership makes. It’s even better to be included in them. Change can be difficult, but involving your people in the process (either by giving them information or getting their input) can minimize apprehension.

Conduct employee surveys before, during and after a move. Use their input to inform your space decisions then make note of their feedback as you share the rationale behind your choices.

In addition to employee questionnaires, we included elements of employee personalization in the new space. In the countdown emails leading up to the grand opening, we asked employees to submit name suggestions for a new training space adjacent to the Club. After narrowing responses to three choices, we asked Club visitors to cast their vote on iPads during the opening.

Personalization was even baked into the space design. Leading into the Club, a floor-to-ceiling wall display features recipients of our esteemed Champions of Excellence award.

Enlist ambassadors to fuel the excitement

Select employees who are eager to educate and energize others about the new space. Depending on the size of your organization, you’ll need a network of ambassadors to act as touch points for questions and feedback—both at events and throughout the change management process.

For the Club opening, we stationed employee ambassadors throughout the lounge to encourage employees to submit raffle entries, participate in giveaways and cast their vote for a new training room name. We even brought in a photo booth and props to encourage social sharing, drive awareness and to be honest, just for fun.

Members from our executive board and leadership involved in the redesign were also present, which boosted confidence among our people. Aside from mingling with employees, they were there to answer questions and discuss strategy for the space.

If you’re like us, then you want your space to improve productivity and drive engagement. A strong kickoff helps set the stage for that transformation. Whether your new space is a coffee lounge, a Ping-Pong room or a brand new workplace altogether, you’re giving employees a better office experience and a sense of pride in where they work.

In fact, the key to celebrating your new space is really not to celebrate the space at all. You’re not celebrating aesthetics or even functionality. You’re celebrating your people. They may not remember the industrial light fixtures or the new-yet-worn leather that took you six swatches to land on, but they’ll remember how you made them feel: valued.

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