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Social impacts of a short-distance relocation process and new ways of working

Matti Christersson (Department of Real Estate, Planning and Geoinformatics, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)
Christopher Heywood (Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
Peggie Rothe (Department of Built Environment, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)

Journal of Corporate Real Estate

ISSN: 1463-001X

Article publication date: 13 November 2017



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the social impacts of short-distance office relocation that also involved a new way of working, as perceived by employees during a relocation process. Relocation is any process of moving business premises and can consist of (often) significant change in locality, building change, workplace change and ways of working. This case study was not influenced by the effect of locality change making it hence a short-distance relocation.


The social impacts are analysed based on the perceptions of approximately 15 per cent (nine employees) of the case organization across the relocation process – two months before, one week before and four months after the move. The qualitative data collection is conducted by semi-structured interviews, supplemented by diaries and participatory action research.


Before the relocation, the subject organization’s old premises were considered inadequate. Still, employees had concerns during the process about the new open office environment including the adoption of new ways of working. Some employees did experience resistance towards the change, although the amount of engagement possibilities was deemed sufficient and engagement recognized as an important part of the process. After the relocation, adaptation was considered easier than originally anticipated and experiences of improved inter-team collaboration were reported by most while others experienced just the opposite, pointing out to emerging individual differences.

Research limitations/implications

The limitations of this study arise mainly from the ability to statistically generalize on the basis of a single case study which this paper represents. Furthermore, since the last interviews were made four months after the move, all post-occupancy implications were possibly not yet fully experienced.


The paper provides information on the social impacts of organizational relocation process, as it identifies individual employee perceptions during a relocation process where locality change is minimal. Moreover, the threefold research approach across the relocation process enables the appearance of possible time-dependent development of adaptation to change in employee perceptions and these perceptions to be analysed in more detail.



Christersson, M., Heywood, C. and Rothe, P. (2017), "Social impacts of a short-distance relocation process and new ways of working", Journal of Corporate Real Estate, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 265-284.



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