Are you expanding into a second office? Congratulations! A new office is an important landmark and is a sign your company’s on the road to success. However, it can also be a difficult transition. Without realising, you’ve likely built your company around processes that only work in one geographic location. In this article, we’ll cover what you should be thinking about when rebooting your ways of working for multiple offices.
What you need to know before opening a second office
When you’re opening a new office, there’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for success. But here are a few tips we know have worked for companies that have made the transition:
Use the 3 T system for decisions
Trust, Transparency, Timelines
It’s about striking the balance between collaboration and independence, and that involves trust, transparency and clear timelines. Be transparent about your expectations. If you don’t trust a team to complete their side of the project, you won’t get far. Likewise, if you don’t communicate with clear guidelines and timeframes, you’ll never be able to cohesively manage across locations.
When you’re operating a second office, it’s hard to know just how tightly you should hold the reins. If the main office is too close to everything, you risk micromanaging projects. That means you’ll suffocate your second office, and your team can’t grow in the way that works for them. But if you give them too much freedom, there’s a risk they’ll do things too differently. That means your two offices won’t feel like a coherent business to employees and clients.
To get the balance right, we recommend using what we call the “3 T System”. The 3 Ts stand for:
- Trust: Let your team complete their side of the project without constant supervision.
- Transparent: Be clear about your expectations, and minimise ambiguity.
- Timelines: Make sure all key dates and deadlines are agreed upon and written down, so there’s no room for confusion.
If you implement this system correctly, your second office should be able to operate independently while remaining in your orbit.
As ad boss David Ogilvy said, “Why keep a dog and bark yourself?” If you’ve hired someone to do a job, it’s important to let them do it. In small and fast-growing companies, this can admittedly be difficult. It’s hard for bosses to accept that at some point, the company is too big for them to oversee everything. Instead, you need to put people you trust in managerial positions and let them report back to you.
That’s especially true when you open a second office, as the added distance can make bosses paranoid. It’s easy to imagine that without you watching, the second office is shirking or, even worse, breaking all the rules. But the reality is almost always more mundane. Make sure you’ve got the right lieutenants, and then give them the space to run your teams for you.
Choose meetings wisely
Parkinson’s law says that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. Today, you can probably amend that to “the number of meetings expands to fill the time available in the week.”
If your company suffers from meeting bloat, you’re not alone. Indeed, the temptation to fill everyone’s diaries with check-ins is worse when you have a second office. But don’t take away others’ productive time to soothe your nerves. Instead, create systems that let employees update you with progress in a way that fits their schedule. That might mean email updates, IMs, or even modern project management systems that make these tools redundant.
You can also create rules like “no meeting days” that keep people focused on productive tasks. If you can create a culture that minimises meetings, your company’s productivity (and revenue) will soar.
One comms system to rule them all
Do you default to email? If you do, you’re not alone. According to Statista, people send 306.4 billion emails in one year alone.
Email might be what you’re used to, but it’s rarely the best option for internal communication. Unfortunately, email:
- Forces staff to waste time on pleasantries
- Is overrun by spam
- Inefficient at sharing documents
- Is confusing when multiple people are CCed
- Makes it hard to segment internal and external messages
- Delivers urgent and non-urgent emails together by default
Fortunately, companies are embracing better and new solutions. With apps like Slack or MS Teams, staff can reach each other regardless of location. They can also easily switch between IMs, group chats, calls, or video meetings depending on what’s convenient. If clients use the same comms system, they can even stay in touch without switching to email.
When opening an office, think about what you can use to make everyone feel like they’re part of one culture.
Standardise operating procedures
Processes aren’t glamorous, but when they’re designed correctly, they make everyone’s lives easier. Unfortunately, in a second office, it’s easy for teams to informally invent new operating procedures. They might work very well for them but will create problems if the head office does things differently.
Instead, work with your second office to devise procedures that work for everyone. Once they’re designed, make sure everyone is trained on working with them. And if someone deviates from the hymn sheet, politely remind them that it’s not the way you do things.
If you’re worried about communicating with your new second office, we can help. The AnswerConnect app can help you stay up-to-date with your team. You can also use it to receive updates about any inbound calls that have come through to your receptionists.
Want to learn more? Book a free consultation with us today here.