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Video: Moving Office IT Considerations – Update
Join Carolyn Woodard as she interviews William Maxwell and Rick Alloway, engineers at Community IT with decades of experience planning and overseeing office moves. Learn what IT considerations you need to take and how offices have changed since the pandemic started.
This webinar updates Rick and Will’s previous advice on planning for an office move. While the checklist and tips in that webinar are still valid and very useful, we wanted to understand how things have changed and what that means for your IT during a move.
For example, many organizations have gone server-less and operate entirely in the cloud now. Many nonprofits are powered by an entirely remote workforce. We’ve seen many organizations downsizing or moving into shared or sublet office space to support a hybrid work environment. All of these changes have implications for your IT support when you move.
Are you downsizing, or moving into shared space? Are you closing your physical office altogether? Do you have servers that need to be moved or do you operate mostly in the cloud? Can your staff work from home during the move? How should you hard wire the new space? What about security, including cybersecurity? What are the most crucial issues 6 months out, 3 months out, or the day of the move?
One of the biggest projects you may ever have to manage working in a nonprofit is an office move. The people, the computers, and all the moving parts have to land in the right place and be ready to go in your new location. Office moves can be disruptive, but they don’t have to be frustrating or involve too much downtime.
Be ready for your next move! Join us to learn these tips and tricks, updated for our world after two years of pandemic.
Community IT Innovators’ William Maxwell has been providing organizations with network infrastructure, planning and helpdesk support since 2000, and is now a Senior Engineer. He has a range of technical experience, and works in both Macintosh and Microsoft Windows environments. William enjoys having the opportunity to help non-profit organizations use technology towards achieving their missions. In addition to being an engineer, he researches cutting-edge technology and refines and coordinates Best Practices documentation.
Prior to Community IT Innovators, William worked for a local cable company where he was initiated into the world of cable, Internet, and telephones. He is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and Apple OS X certified. He has supervised too many office moves to count and is happy to share this moving office IT considerations update with our community.
Rick Alloway is an Engineer and provides on-site Information Technology support for a number of charter schools and nonprofit organizations. Prior to Community IT, Rick did legislative work for a safety advocacy group on Capitol Hill for four years. This experience gives him a deeper understanding of the organizational and technical challenges nonprofits face.
He enjoys working with organizations in the Washington, DC area and seeing first-hand how they are all working together to improve the community. Rick is A+ certified, and holds bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Psychology from the University of Delaware.
Carolyn Woodard is currently head of Marketing at Community IT Innovators. She has served many roles at Community IT, from client to project manager to marketing. With over twenty years of experience in the nonprofit world, including as a nonprofit technology project manager and Director of IT at both large and small organizations, Carolyn knows the frustrations and delights of working with technology professionals, accidental techies, executives, and staff to deliver your organization’s mission and keep your IT infrastructure operating. She has a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from Johns Hopkins University and received her undergraduate degree in English Literature from Williams College.
Carolyn Woodard: Welcome everyone to the Community IT Innovators’ presentation on moving an office, an update on what has changed and what you need to be aware of in terms of newer IT.
This is an update to our previous webinar Planning an Office Move, which is still full of great advice and suggestions, but it did need an update. For example, we previously talked a lot about moving your servers and many nonprofits don’t use servers anymore. There are different IT considerations when your organization is entirely or mostly operating in the cloud.
The office moves we’ve been involved with over the past year have involved lots of nonprofits, either moving out of an office altogether and going entirely remote or downsizing into a smaller office or maybe shared office space. So, we thought it was a good time to address some of the IT office move issues that we face now, after the pandemic changes to working from the office.
My name is Carolyn Woodard, I’m Marketing Director at Community IT, and I’m talking today with William Maxwell and Rick Alloway who are Senior Engineers. Both have worked at Community IT for decades.
Between them they have done too many office moves to count. You can find the video podcast and transcript of their earlier webinar on our website. I’m going to do a brief recap of it if you missed it.
Planning for an Office Move
We recommend getting started planning your office move as soon as possible, the sooner the better, even if you’re not planning to move for a year or more.
Some of the items in our ideal timeline,
- at least six months out or more, you should be cleaning up and assessing your IT, especially your equipment, especially if you’ve been in an office for a while, you might have a lot of stuff piled up that you aren’t going to move. You’re going to recycle it. So start going through it right away and organizing what you are going to move and what you are going to get rid of. This will also help you plan for any equipment that you’re going to upgrade and help you understand your needs for space in your new office, as you search for that new office space.
You might not need as big of a locked closet for servers as you needed in your old office, but you probably are still going to need some locked space, so keep that in mind.
- Three months out, you’re going to be dealing with your vendors and your staff. At three months out, you probably have identified your new office space or are close to finalizing it. You will start to be able to work with the new landlord and your new vendors like your new ISP provider.
You will also want to start informing your staff of what you expect to happen during the move, how much time — downtime they’re going to have, if they will have new phone numbers, new laptops, all of that stuff.
The more you can prepare your staff the better. Even though you should expect, there will still be people who will be unprepared or will have last minute requests or hiccups.
- One month out, you need to know who is moving what. At one month out, you should be assigning responsibilities and forming a moving team.
At this point, if you have more IT items that you can’t decommission and recycle until the day of the move, you should be arranging a pickup or a donation.
You also need to plan the security of the move, both your physical security of the valuable and fragile equipment, but also preparing your staff for heightened cybersecurity during your move.
You’ll also want to identify the staff who will need additional assistance either because of their role, their relationship to technology, their relationship to your organization, or for any other reason. You want to get them functioning in the new space as painlessly as possible, even if that new space is that they are still working from home. When the office location changes, there may be something that doesn’t go seamlessly.
And we still recommend doing backups of your internet for the actual move. So that is something that needs to be planned in advance and carried out the week before the move. Of course, you are using good cyber security and doing backups remotely of your data and your systems, and that you would need to do before the move, then it’s pretty easy to restore after.
- The day of the move, what can go wrong? Be prepared. Always, always, always, have the internet functional at the new place before you’re moving any staff. Take care of the staff because they’re like your clients. They’re expecting the move to be disruptive and nothing ever goes perfectly, but if you can support the staff through this move, they will be amazed and helpful and definitely plan to buy pizza for the folks who come on moving day and are actually carrying all the boxes around.
Our earlier webinar gets into some detail about wired versus wireless. How to plan out an efficient space, how to use flex space. All of that is changing as wireless is getting used more and more, but we still recommend some hard wiring as Will and Rick are going to talk about in a minute.
One of the great things that is changing recently that is absolutely helpful to moving is having so many people working from home or able to work from home. They really shouldn’t see a huge impact on moving day itself. And in fact, if you have staff who regularly work in the office, but they can work from home for a few days as you move, they will also be able to be more productive than they would’ve been in a past office move. So a lot of the changes over the past few years are helpful.
Now I’m going to ask Rick and Williams some questions we’ve been getting from clients in the community about IT and office moves. And ironically enough, they are doing this interview during the first days of Community IT being in our new offices that we just moved to. So they have some first hand and immediate knowledge of how to move offices.
Now, Rick and William, would you like to introduce yourselves?
Rick Alloway: Hi, I’m Rick Alloway. I’ve been with Community IT for 17 years and have done, I don’t even know, at least over 40 office moves.
William Maxwell: I’m William Maxwell. I’ve been here for 22, 21 years. I lost track and I can’t tell you how many office moves I did. There’s a lot of those too.
Office Move Planning – Update
Carolyn Woodard: The first question for our update is:
When you are downsizing or closing your office completely, do you guys have some advice for when you are leaving an office?
William: Let’s see. Well, we’re kind of doing this ourselves right now. We moved into a new office space and we’re downsizing.
I think the first thing to do is decide what you need in the new office and what you don’t need. So you can easily get rid of what you don’t need; determine what needs to be recycled, what’s going to be thrown away. There’s lots of ideas to get rid of old equipment of all kinds, including computer equipment. So be creative. We did a silent auction and that’s clearing out a lot of our old stuff and getting them into new homes and out of landfills.
Rick: It’s just really helpful to get all that stuff out. If you’re downsizing, obviously you want to recycle everything you can and not bring old junk to the new office. You certainly don’t want to fill up your smaller space with your old stuff that’s never going to be used again.
We work with a number of groups in Washington D.C. You can either take your stuff to them or they’ll charge you to come and pick it up and haul it out. Some people will even come and tear down your rack for you. If you just get everything that’s important out they’ll come and completely strip it out, recycle it all, pay you per pound for the scrap or give you certificates of destruction for the server hard drives and things like that.
So if you’re really short staffed, there are options where you can pay people to come in and just take care of a lot of the clean out of the IT stuff for you.
William: Yeah. And also check with the building that you’re leaving to see if they have a recycling event coming up. That’s usually a good time to drop stuff off there, but usually the timing means you have to call somebody.
Carolyn Woodard: What about if you are leaving an office entirely and also if you’re getting rid of the stuff?
Are there any legal requirements around things that you have to save or anything that you have to make sure you do before you recycle equipment or before you get rid of stuff?
Rick: Legally that’s all up to your organization. Whether you have data retention policies, how long you need to keep old backup tapes or whatever you were using. Some groups we work with have to keep stuff for seven years for legal reasons and for Freedom of Information act.
Other people, it’s just your email. And if you don’t care about seven-year-old email, you probably don’t need to carry those backup tapes with you to the new location.
William: Yeah. I think most times your finance team will have a better idea on what they have to keep. You have to keep some finance information and maybe some HR information. Other members of the organization have a better idea of what they have to take with them and what they want to take with them. I think it’s important to divide the haves and the wants of what you have to have and what you want to have. So then you can more easily clean things out.
A storage room or a storage place is also good. If you still need to store stuff and you’re getting rid of an office, it’s often cheaper to just put it into a climate control storage room.
Rick: But if you’re talking about digital storage, then I would not recommend moving the backups, hard drives or whatever to somebody’s home office. You can get storage at Amazon or something like that for your business. You can keep everything in one place that stays controlled by the business and not by the finance person or whatever in their house. So that’s the best way to just get everything into the cloud, get it off site and not have it tied to any one person.
Other things to think about for breaking down your office. Pretty much everyone goes to softphones. You can still get VOIP phones from your old office that can work at home, but you usually need PoE or power cords.
You can’t just take the desk phone from your house and plug it in. It has to have a hard wire to wherever your Comcast Verizon modem comes into your house, which may not be where you want to use your phone. You also need power over ethernet or a separate cord for it. So a lot of people just switch to the softphones and we definitely recommend buying everybody a good headset, so they can just connect to their laptop and do their work remotely.
William: Yeah. Not everyone has a voice grade speaker phone that has all this fabulous technology like the one we’re using. So it’s best to have a headset. It’s also cost effective if everyone’s going home and you’re going to voice over IP system (VOIP). A good headset, or even any headset will help eliminate the bad sounds and audio artifacts you get from just a speaker phone and a laptop.
Carolyn Woodard: This seems like a good point, if I can go back just a minute to leaving your office or downsizing it, as you were talking about.
Can you talk a little bit about servers? In the previous webinar, we talked a lot about moving servers, but that’s not always the case now. So can you talk a little bit about that?
Is this a good time to go serverless to go to the cloud? Or should you already have done a cloud migration?
William: It depends on your time schedule. If you have a long lead time, if you know when your lease is ending and it’s easily six months down the road, there’s plenty of time to move into Office 365 or a Google or SharePoint solution for your files to get rid of your server.
If you’re three weeks, four weeks, up to a month out, it’s probably too late to move everything into the cloud before you move. Sorry to say. It’s more complicated. But it also depends on how many files you have, how big is your store, what you are currently running on right now? So it can be a little bit more complex to get off of it than to just move it so you have plenty of time to go through all those questions with people.
Like, does my computer still need to have my server running on it? What files have to be on-site somewhere? Because there are some files that don’t do well online. Database files, for example, if you have to put them in an online database service, that will take some time to do.
Rick: Yeah. Also video files. Sometimes the communications department has a lot of video files and if you put them all online, it’s a lot more difficult to manipulate them.
William: And it’s more costly because they’re bigger files.
Rick: Yeah. And you’re transferring a lot of data. So those people still need to have some sort of local storage if they’re going to be working on them from home.
If someone came to us and said, “In three weeks we need to move and we still have servers and we’re getting rid of our office,” should they virtualize their server? Should they move their server to a co-location or should they put it in somebody’s closet while they upload to the cloud? What would be your recommendation?
William: Well, the co-locations are usually cost prohibitive for small nonprofits.
Rick: Yeah. And if it’s only for a couple months while you do it.
William: Only for a couple of months, and you’re not moving to a new space, you’d probably have to put it somewhere with a reliable internet connection.
I want to say there may be some services that will host it for you in the short-term. But I haven’t run into that situation yet. Virtualizing it into Azure might be your best bet because a lot of that for nonprofits is free. You get $3,500 annual credit. And then it covers anything Microsoft might throw at you.
And so you can easily just virtualize it into the Azure cloud or migrate your machines to the Azure cloud as is, like a forklift. So it’ll still work while you figure out what you want your long-term solution to be. I’d have to check to see what the timeline and the lead time is for all that.
Carolyn Woodard: I was going to say, as you invest in new equipment that’s replacing your old equipment, that’s one thing. But if you are trying to do a big change that requires change management, it’s probably not a good time to do that while you are also doing an office move.
The next question is something that you touched on a little earlier about moving into shared space or supporting remote work from a shared space.
Are there special considerations when you are moving into shared office space, whether that’s an official WeWork situation or just subletting from another office?
Rick: Yes. but it’s hard to know what they are until you get there and talk to the actual shared space. If it’s a larger company and you’re subletting part of their office, it’s going to be a lot different than if it’s a WeWork space or something similar. We’ve done a lot of those. I’ve done five or six just in the last couple months and we’ve run into problems everywhere.
A lot of the problems are with printing. If you’re on somebody else’s network, you either need to separate your network out with your own firewall, which can come with its own problems, or you need to be part of their larger network and figure out how you’re going to protect your stuff.
If you’re in a WeWork space, the IT for the larger company controls all that and you have very little control. You have to deal with their IT that might be in another city somewhere and they don’t answer your questions.
So you really want to minimize how much IT stuff you have. In a shared space, you preferably aren’t running a server. Even though you may have space to have one, you really don’t want that in somebody else’s network where you don’t have full control over it.
William: If you have your own server or a NAS (Network-Attached Storage) or something, you need a firewall just for running cables around your office space, but that’s all it’s going to be good for. Don’t count on any remote access to that server or that NAS.
Rick: Yeah, because you’re inside the other organization’s firewall and they’re not going to be responsive.
William: It seems like they don’t want to do anything. I think they don’t want to be that IT person to get hacked in their system for all the other constituents.
Rick: Exactly. You’re a liability to the larger organization, so they don’t want to give you any special considerations is what we’ve found.
You mentioned printing. Are there specific workarounds? If you’re in a shared space, do they have a common printer, or how do you make that work?
William: Most commercial shared office spaces like WeWork have a community printer. If you can, I would encourage you to just buy into their system. Don’t try to bring your own printers there. Try to get your old provider to buy out your contract or something, because it’s better to just conform with their system because it’s supported and they’ll help you get working.
If you start bringing in your own stuff, that’s when they start pushing back and say as long as it doesn’t break anything. Then they don’t tell you if it breaks something and they turn it off.
That’s something fresh in our minds. Something worked the first day we set it up and then it stopped working and it’s never worked again.
Carolyn Woodard: That sounds so frustrating. But I think there are many times in life where it’s probably best and easiest to go with a flow. If you’re in a shared space, take advantage of being in a shared space and use all of the pieces that are available to you.
My next question is about a hybrid work environment. I don’t know how much you guys really have interacted with them. The question was about how to make a hybrid environment work better. Where you have some staff that are in the office and some staff that are working remotely.
Probably a lot of the questions are around running meetings, but is there other IT advice or advice on running meetings that you can give us?
William: I find that a lot of the companies like Zoom and Teams and Polycom, they’re working on technology to make it seamless so that people can jump in on conversations and hear the conversations. I think the main barrier might be the technologies just didn’t know this was coming today.
And so we’re here now and that technology is catching up, so that we can have these hybrid meetings. Right now they’re focusing on cameras and microphones and speaker systems, so that the people remote can hear the side conversations from the people that are here.
I think the number one thing is to make an effort. Try and see what works for your staff, because a lot of your organizations are unique and you have your own culture. So sometimes the individuals at the desktop work, but sometimes you may need to split it up and have a room for people to come and join into it.
Rick: It also depends on whether it’s a one person meeting, whether presenting to everybody, or if it’s supposed to be a round table discussion where everybody’s going to talk over each other and try to get in. It makes a difference in terms of how you set up the meeting best.
Carolyn Woodard: That makes sense.
Are there other IT considerations when you’re doing IT support for a hybrid office where there’s some IT systems in the office and then there’s a bunch of remote people?
William: I think the number one thing is to try not to implement any bring your own device (BYOD) for people working from home. I would encourage investing in company equipment for staff working at home so you know what they’re working with at home.
Headsets and microphones, if they’re going to have any calling requirements or need to join meetings. Laptops, keyboards, and monitors that they need to use, so they have everything they need like they’re in the office. Webcams; sometimes the laptop cameras are not great. So that’s also good advice.
Rick: Yeah. This is a little bit more technical, but we’ve implemented Microsoft Intune to preconfigure a lot of our laptops per client. So if client A says so and so in Texas needs a new laptop, we already have it configured for that company. And it’s shipped straight from Dell to that person. They’re able to log in with their Azure AD credentials and all the programs that we’ve already preset start to filter in and it sets itself up 90% automatically.
That’s really been helpful for hybrid and remote situations where everybody’s all around. The computer doesn’t have to get shipped to the main office and get configured by an IT person and then mailed back out. It can just go straight out.
That even includes our IT remote management software so that when a user gets it, gets logged in, connects to their home wifi, we can remote right in and help them with the last two, three steps right away.
William: I think something that may help is just a little bit of a stipend to help with internet costs, depending on where they’re located. Where you choose to live is your own thing, but the fact that you can’t really come to the office to work is probably something that can’t be helped depending on where the staff are. So being able to help them out to get better internet than they currently have can improve their experience and might help.
Do you guys find that you’re doing any counseling on home wifi setups for people who are working remotely?
I know we have an article on our site about it, but I’m sure that people have questions about that.
William: We don’t get it often. A lot of it is maybe executives. They get the clout to be able to pull their IT that they’re paying for to their home office, but most staff don’t get that assistance.
Best recommendation is just know where your wifi access points are coming from and whether or not you need a repeater or just run an access point on the outside is where the main solutions lie.
Carolyn Woodard: That sounds great. So moving on, we had a question about the previous webinar.
You had a very good checklist for if you’re a year out from a move, six months out, three months out, one month out, the day of the move.
What has changed on that pre-move checklist? Do you still need a backup internet connection when you’re moving?
Rick: You mean when you’re in the new office, should you still have a backup internet?
Carolyn Woodard: Yeah.
Rick: The short answer is yes, of course. The long answer is, all your stuff’s in the cloud and everybody can work from home. If your internet is down for an hour, or a day, or a week, you can get wifi from Starbucks; you can get wifi from anywhere. You can just go home and keep working, because all your stuff’s in the cloud anyway.
So it’s kind of a cost/benefit. If you’re running meetings and that’s part of your business, then yeah. You’re going to want a backup internet in case yours goes down. But if it’s just for access to files for staff, you got a lot more options these days.
William: So, “it depends” is the default for that sort of thing.
Some of the factors to help you decide whether or not you need it is
- how often staff are going to be in the office.
- Video calls take less bandwidth and people think. So video, how much video calls will be happening is something to consider, but not everything.
- And whether or not you have anything on site that staff need to get to from other places not on site. If you’re hosting a website or some files, or a remote server to connect staff into the office.
Those are the main considerations, whether or not you need a backup internet.
And if it’s in your budget, if you have a budget and you can get a cheap Comcast connection to back up your very expensive T1 ethernet, or more reliable ones these days. T1s are slow, but reliable. The federal government hasn’t backed in anything else.
Rick: Anyway, most people just use their hotspots on their phone when the internet is down.
William: Yeah, surprisingly.
Rick: Yeah, if you’re not saving lives, you can probably get by for an hour with the internet down.
Carolyn Woodard: That brings me to the next question, which is about hard wiring.
Your old office probably had a lot of hard wiring in it. In new offices are you guys doing that a lot? What’s the story?
Rick: I still believe in hardwiring.
William: Yeah. The ethernet will still be faster than wifi.
Rick: And more reliable.
William: So minimum, if you have Voice, if you don’t have a separate phone system, that means you don’t need a separate wire just for phones, like you used to.
So, one wire to each desk location that you expect people to be would be helpful. Do two, depending on how they charge. Some charge per location, some charge per wire; it depends on which vendor you’re working with. That’s a question to ask them, but one is a minimum. And at the very minimum, if you don’t want to have any wires, you just do wires to everything that is going to be static. Like your wireless access points, your conference rooms, and your printers.
Rick: Yeah. You still need some wiring, no matter what, just for those stationary devices.
And then I would recommend once you’re doing it, if you’re building out a new office, you should have at least one port per desk. Just to have it, at the very least you plug a docking station in for people’s MacBook and their stuff that doesn’t have ethernet ports anymore. It’ll still give them a more reliable connection.
Particularly because all your files are likely now in the cloud, not on your local server. You need a good connection to get back out.
Carolyn Woodard: I see you guys are in a conference room today sitting at a big table.
Are you seeing that when people are downsizing or going into shared space, that they do still have specific spaces for specific needs, or are you seeing more flex space?
And if you see more flexible spaces, do you wire them differently? What are you seeing?
Rick: So this is all kind of new. I’ve seen various things in the new office that we are just getting into. They’ve opened up a whole section of the office to be flex space, round tables and chairs and things.
They rearranged a lot of the cubes to be hoteling space, where people can just come over and pop in.
These days, most laptops can do USBC. So you can always do a USBC docking station. These days pretty much any brand of laptop, Mac included, will run your keyboard, mouse, video, ethernet off of it So I recommend that for your hoteling space.
But for the flex space, the couches and stuff, obviously wifi’s fine. Just make sure there’s a good wifi antenna access point in that area.
William: Here they’ve got a floating charger. Little floating power things that come up to desk height that look like you can move them around a little bit.
Rick: Yeah. It’s round and you can move it around and people can sit it there for a meeting and have all their stuff plugged in.
William: Yeah. Flex spaces seem to be popular, so being able to have power there is important and there’s lots of creative solutions. Some of the chairs and couches we were getting rid of had a power plug right there. So, if you’re just sitting there, get your phone charged and everything. I don’t know, is anybody doing wireless charging anymore for their phones and stuff?
Rick: I do, but I’ve never seen it in an office.
All the conference room tables used to have a thing that popped up and had a couple USBs to plug in your phone and your charger and regular ports. Like I said, we had couches with USB plugs, charge your phone on. I haven’t seen as much of that lately.
William: Yeah, the conference room is where all your ethernet cables will definitely go. Most of the fancy equipment does not work well on wifi. As much as you’re spending on them, you probably don’t want them to work on wifi. Ethernet is going to be there.
This is a shared space, a shared conference room. I think there’ll be more of that moving forward where you’ve got a hoteling system or a shared conference room where you just schedule the time when you need the big room, but then we’re not paying for this big room when we’re not in it. So that’s usually where a lot of the shared places come through.
And a lot of office buildings are offering something like that in their space. We know you’re renting a small space, so we have this big conference room down here that you can check out when it’s available. I know we took advantage of that in our old office building a lot too. So that’s something to ask as you look for new space to see what options you have.
Rick: Yeah. You don’t need a whole conference room to yourself if you’re only going to be using it, once every two months.
Carolyn Woodard: That makes a lot of sense.
We talked a little bit earlier about the servers and organizations that have gone into the cloud completely don’t have any more servers. They probably had old dedicated space in their old office for that. Is it a savings if you are moving? What are the considerations if you’re moving into a space and you don’t need a server room anymore?
Rick: Are you saying, should you have a smaller server room?
Carolyn Woodard: Or, if you don’t need one at all.
Rick: Well, I think everybody still needs a place to put a modem. That’s locked behind a door. That should still be off limits to everybody. You’re still going to have a switch. You’re still going to have a small patch panel. Even if all you’re doing is going to two printers and two wifi access points, there’s still a little bit of equipment. It’s maybe a very small footprint, maybe the size of a filing cabinet now instead of a giant walk-in closet, but you still need a little bit of space.
William: And if you have the walk-in closet, tossing a desk in for your IT person to work in there won’t hurt.
Rick: Yeah. And a lot of people just get the little cage. It’s basically a file cabinet and just has a lock on it. And it’s got spaces for all the wires to come into. It keeps all your IT equipment together and locked, but out of the way.
William: You’d be surprised how much inventory you might have to manage. If you’re providing computers to staff, especially keyboards, monitors, and mice that you want to have on hand when stuff breaks. You have a few extra so you don’t have to run around and pay whatever inflated price Staples, or the guy that pretends to be Staples online is doing.
But there’s also been times where it’s just in the printer room, up on the wall somewhere. And that’s also fine. If you’re not, if you don’t have a server room. You’re going to have an IT area for that stuff. Just keep that in mind.
Carolyn Woodard: That makes sense.
Rick: Yeah. I don’t have a good answer for how you should do inventory in a hybrid situation. If you need to have spare keyboards and mice and monitors around for people who work from home to come in and grab them, but you don’t have a dedicated person on site to loan them out and keep track of who gets what, I’m not quite sure what the best answer is for that right now.
William: The honor system is a good default because it’s not like people are getting charged for the keyboards immediately. If you run through five keyboards, I raise a flag and you may not get a sixth keyboard.
But most times people need a keyboard and grab one; it’s fine. If you have an office space, someone should be in general charge, to help. Even if they were the accidental person that helped set everything up, or somebody who goes to the office just to check the mail and whatnot. They should probably know how many keyboards we have left. Do we need any more? That sort of thing.
Rick: Right. And this is where all remote is almost easier. Because like you said, you have a standard keyboard, mouse, monitor, webcam, laptop that each employee gets. And if somebody needs something else, you buy it directly from Dell or Amazon and ship it right to them. Somebody’s controlling what the inventory is and who gets what and who’s purchased what.
William: If you wanted to keep something on site, even if you’re fully remote, that’s possible, just not ensured and maybe not recommended, especially now since shipping times are getting ridiculous again. It’s a tough situation.
Carolyn Woodard: At my old office, we had this one fancy projector and there was a little signup sheet for it. And every time it got broken, the last person who had it said, “I didn’t drop it.”
It was definitely a difficult thing. I think trying to avoid that situation makes sense, but if you’re in an organization where there are going to be times when someone needs to come to the office and they can’t bring their laptop for some reason, you would have a loaner.
Q&A From the Questionnaire
I’m going to transition to a couple of questions that we got from our questionnaire that we sent out to ask people about their experiences with moves and the questions about moves. I think you’ve covered a bunch of them already, so it’s good that we have some convergence there.
One of the questions was if you wanted to hit on maybe three or four things that are the things to watch out for.
When you are switching or moving offices, are there three or four things or categories of things that you need to keep in mind as you’re planning your move or executing that move?
Rick: The one we harped on in the last video was always, always, always make sure your internet is set up in the new spot before you leave the old one. If you have to pay it to overlap for a week or two, it’s worth the cost, because not having internet in your new space makes your new space kind of worthless.
William: True. But if they can go downstairs to Starbucks…
Rick: Well, it still means your new space is worthless.
William: Yeah. True. Know who your white glove people are. Who needs extra help? Who needs to make sure they’re walked through what they need to do in case something goes wrong while they can’t go to the office. If you’re watching this video, someone just popped into your head and you know who they are. So it’s not a surprise who those people are.
Rick: Make sure the people who are paying the bills are happy.
William: Other than that, just make sure all the other staff know what’s working, what’s not working and when it will work.
When should they come to the new office and enjoy the new amenities and when they should stay home or when they should just take the afternoon off and enjoy a nice afternoon.
Rick: Give everybody lots of lead time. Under promise, over deliver. Do you think it’s going to take one day? Tell everybody it’s going to be three days just to work out the kinks.
William: I don’t know if we have a top four. Phones are what phones are going to be. The voice over IP is almost everywhere. The phones are going to work when your internet works, in most cases.
If you’re not moving a server, if you don’t have to worry about a phone system set up, then it’s just the internet. Most of the copy companies that manage the printers and whatnot will move the fancy copiers for you. If you just tell them, hey, we’re moving, we need to move this copier over. They’re leasing it and they have to get it back in good condition one day. So they’re usually, yeah, yeah, we’ll just do it.
Although you may watch them do it and just be like, I could have done that. But that’s okay. It’s all about the insurance and who’s going to pay for it if something is dropped.
Rick: Yeah. If you are wiring up a new closet, get new wires. The old patch panels have probably been in there for at least a decade. Doesn’t hurt to get nice short cables and get it nice and clean to start fresh. Wireless access points, if you’ve had the same ones for over six years, or whatever.
William: New infrastructure equipment is good for a move. It helps you maintain the old system at the old office and the new office with new equipment like new switches, new wifi access points, new firewall or security appliance. That’s good for a transition at an office move.
Carolyn Woodard: So plan to put some of the budget for the move into investing in the new hardware equipment that you probably don’t think about, but this is a good opportunity to upgrade to have the new stuff.
Rick: And the new stuff shouldn’t require a big project. We’re not talking about getting rid of your server, moving to the cloud. It’s just replacing hardware.
William: Yeah. If your hardware is less than two years old and still has a warranty on it, I would plan to move it and not plan to buy a new one. Anything between three and five years old, think about it and check when the warranty’s going to expire. But anything older than that, definitely get new stuff. Although over three years, it’s usually about the time you think about new stuff for that.
Carolyn Woodard: This is a perfect segue into one of the questions .
Do you have advice on recycling the old equipment? Somebody should just Google “recyclers near me,” or are there standard things that you advise?
William: I think Googling, depending on where you are when you’re watching this. We have a few in our area that we like. I don’t know what the current list stacks up to.
Rick: I don’t know, but it changes as to who’s good and who’s gone out of business during the pandemic and everything else. I think it has all changed around. We just took on a new company that we like.
Where we live in Washington D.C., it’s all about people who have DOD rated levels of data destruction, which is where I believe they take a hard drive and override it with random ones and zeros seven times. And that’s considered DOD level. That’s the gold standard of data destruction.
That’s probably more than most people require. But you should still wipe your hard drives before you recycle the computers.
Other equipment, switches, cables, all that stuff can go to any IT recycler. It’s going to be guaranteed that they’re going to take care of things properly.
William: Going back to wiping your system, there is free open source software to erase your hard drive. I think you can put it on a flash drive and boot up to it, and it’ll just clear everything out of there for you. Do you remember what it’s called?
Rick: Yeah. Kill disk.
William: So it’s actually called KillDisk and they probably have a USB.
Rick: Yeah, they do. I’ve used it recently.
William: You can install it on a USB you just boot through it. Tell it what you want want destroed They make you confirm and might even print something in a certificate for you at the end, or at least a picture you can take in case you need verification that you had it. Some people like to keep records of that. There’s nothing wrong with that. I know plenty of people that like records for that sort of thing.
Rick: Yeah. That’s just for desktop though, for servers, you have to do a little bit more than just use the freeware. But you can talk to your IT people about that.
Carolyn Woodard: That is a perfect segue to my next question, which came in in our questionnaire, about security.
This person had a question both about managing security during the move for cybersecurity, but also security for the physical move and that type of security. So do you have any advice on that?
Rick: For physical security, there’s two ways I’ve seen it done. Neither sound great. One, is the servers are the last in first out. They pack all the stuff into the truck and put the servers in last. You watch the servers.
William: Right. You put a person on the servers and you don’t ride in the truck, but…
Rick: Yeah, but you’re with the truck. And you go to the new location.
The server is the very first thing to come out. You go with them, bring them all up to the room and then get them back in the new locker room and start setting them up.
The other option for particularly small organizations, this is not a good option. I’m just saying this has been done many times. The office manager or the IT people go put it in their trunk and take it over personally and set it back up.
The movers aren’t in charge of it. That’s not a good idea for a lot of reasons, because anybody can drop it and it’s not insured for any of that. But, if we’re talking about smaller stuff, it’s a way to make sure you maintain physical control over your device at all times.
William: If we’re thinking about how to secure the equipment that you have, it goes back to still having a locked area for your tech stuff.
You can buy network cages. The network racks with locks on them that have all four walls covered up by a screen, so it has air. But then you have a key that you can take with you.
It’s not the most secure key, and I imagine you can buy more expensive locks if you talk to a locksmith, but it gives you basic security unless someone really, really wants to get in there.
There should be a point where you know if someone really, really wants to get in there, it’s not worth the money you want to spend to keep them out.
William Maxwell: Anybody with a pair of bolt cutters can get into most things. YouTube teaches a lot of things now.
Carolyn Woodard: So that covered the physical security of it. Like in every movie, they get into the lock door. They put the piece of gum on the lock or whatever. So if they really want to get in there, of course they’re going to be able to get in.
Are there any considerations when you’re moving around cybersecurity?
William: The key stop for that is just knowledge. As long as your staff knows these things are offline. Do not trust anything else that comes. We’ll let you know, we’ll send messages out when things come back online.
As long as staff are well informed, they get into the rhythm of what’s happening. When during the move, if something weird happens, then they’re like, what? Wait, this doesn’t seem right. This didn’t come from the right person. Or the email looks weird and this is not what we’re expecting.
Then they’ll call to question. Have a system where somebody’s available to pick up a call during the move process for questions like that. You want to make sure that staff are not connecting to things when you just put everything in the back of your car. You shouldn’t be able to connect to anything.
So someone says, “I think I connected to our wifi network,” and they called you from their cell phone. No, no, no. You want to be able to stop that before it gets too far.
Some hosted systems keep an ID on where you are when you connect regularly. So sometimes when you move stuff, enough will change that it will also have built in security. Like, oh, you’re not in your usual spot, I’m going to give you your multifactor authentication challenge or challenge this and you might get locked out and you may have to deal with staff getting locked out because of that. But that’s what you want security to do if someone’s trying to access something from the wrong spot, to toss a flag.
Carolyn Woodard: Yeah, it’s preferable to have that inconvenience than to lose something that’s important. I would say maybe you also want to tell your finance people if a payment is going out and says we have a different address, all of those sorts of things. For the period of time that you’re moving, make sure that all of your [finance] processes are still working. If it takes two people, two signatures, it still takes two signatures and they better be the right people.
William: And when you notify your vendors that you’re moving, give them the exact date that things are switching over, so they don’t process things wrong. Talk to your vendors, especially the finance geared ones, so they know that this address is not going to work after this date. See what their security practices are as well to help that process too. But yeah, information and knowledge is probably the best security procedure.
Carolyn Woodard: I love it. I think that’s a great place to end, but I have one more question that came through. We got so many questions and I think you’ve really done a great job of answering all of the updated questions, but we had one comment who said, “When we moved, we had to make a lot of decisions about hardwiring, about changes. We switched from landlines to VOIP. We switched IP providers. We had to work with the landlord. We moved one of our servers, we decommissioned another and all of the desktops and all of the remote workers, they had to have support as well.” I know in our previous webinar, we talked about the checklist by month of how soon you had to get prepared.
In the current environment, how early would you say to start planning for this move? What’s your advice? Because there’s so much to think about.
William: I think it’s still the same – as soon as you can. As soon as you can start planning, do it. I think it’ll give you peace of mind that things are lining up.
Rick: Just from the IT point of view, because you’ve got plenty of other things to do, the earlier you can clear out old junk out of your server room, the earlier you can move to the cloud anything that you can.
Again, if you’ve been working from home already, you’re probably halfway there with getting your systems ready.
William: ISPs still have lead times. So knowing where you’re going, figuring out where you’re going is probably the first thing to do, and then what ISPs are going to be there that you work with. So knowing all that ahead of time, as soon as you can and how much space you’re getting, know that with as much time as you can.
Carolyn Woodard: I think that actually echoes what we said before in our webinar – start planning as soon as you can and then also expect something unexpected is going to happen on the day of the actual move.
William Maxwell: Yeah, always does.
Rick Alloway: Yeah.
Carolyn Woodard: Well, thank you guys so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to let us benefit from your experience with the many, many, many moves that you have coordinated and organized. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for joining me today.