Larry Osterman's WebLog

Confessions of an Old Fogey
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Moving offices - again

Moving offices - again

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Editors Note: This was posted last Thursday evening, and was promptly lost in a blog rollback.  Apologies to those who have already read it.

I moved my office today.

I hate office moves.

I don't know how many times I've done it (it's been well over a dozen, maybe as many as 20).  Moves, like reorgs, are simply a fact of life at Microsoft.   As we grow (either by hiring new people or by constructing new buildings), people get shuffled around.  Sometimes they're small (one or two people).  Sometimes they're huge (over a thousand people).  The really big ones can take three or four days to accomplish.  We had one move in Exchange where they literally emptied everything from the building, moved it all into the parking garage, and moved it all back to the new location.  Microsoft tries not do the three or four day moves, because they lose work days during the move, for big moves, they try to do them over the weekend.

Most of the time, I get a fairly long time in my new office - usually over a year, once I actually had three years in a single office.  But sometimes I don't quite get that long.  My shortest time was two weeks (but I've already told that story).

I've always hated office moves.

This time I'd really just gotten settled into the new office (I moved there back in December) - I had only 3 boxes left to unpack from the last move when I got told that I'd be moving yet again.

This move actually a good thing - our team lost 5 offices a couple of weeks ago so we needed to move people up to some vacant offices upstairs.  In addition, one of the leads from our team left the division to take a really awesome job over in COSD (Core OS Division).  So his office, a north facing office on the 4th floor with a panoramic view of Mt. Baker and the Cascades was available.

Since four of the people who I work with the most are also on the 4th floor, this move made a huge amount of sense - the people I work with most will be closer to me (except my boss and a couple of the other people I work with daily are still on the other floor).

But that doesn't change the fact that I hate office moves.

When I move offices, I usually pack 14 moving boxes worth of stuff.  I've got it down to a system at this point - I pack up off&on during the week before the move, and I find someone in my building who isn't moving.  On the day of the move, I pack up the rest of my stuff (usually just a final box), and move all my Lego models and my artwork into the non-moving person's office.  The final thing is to power down all my equipment and put tags on everything (including the speakers and the mice).  I also make sure I get my chair and anti-static mat - the movers have forgotten it sometimes.

Then I leave for the night (or weekend, depending on the size of the move).  Overnight, gremlins come in move my stuff to the new office and plug everything in.

The next morning, I come in, refreshed from a good nights sleep and start by fixing the things the gremlins got wrong (you can count on gremlins getting something wrong - maybe it's the KVM being plugged into the wrong monitor plug on the video adapter, maybe it's the speakers from my test machine being plugged into my dev machine (or maybe it's both sets of speakers plugged into my test machine)).  You can never quite tell what's going to happen but it's almost always trivial to fix.  I also make sure that I got all my boxes (sometimes they get lost or misplaced).  I unpack the final box I packed during the move (since it's invariably the stuff I use the most). 

I then go to the non-moving person, get my Legos and set them up again.  Sometimes this can be a pain, because I have a bookshelf that's dedicated to the legos - but it's got three shelves in it, and the corporate furnature standards say you only get two shelves in a bookshelf - so I've got to scrounge up a 3rd shelf somewhere.  But I get the legos put up, hook up my office boombox (a 15 year old Yamaha office stereo that's still going strong), and I'm good to go.

Next, over the next couple of weeks, I unpack my boxes, and distribute the stuff out where it belongs (manipulative puzzles go on the guest table, books on the other bookshelf, you get the idea).

All in all, it's a pain in the neck but it really only costs me about a half a day of absolute downtime (plus any extra days off from multi-day moves) - the rest is aggregated over enough working days that I don't care.  It's a pain, but it's not THAT big a deal.

But I still hate office moves.

Especially this one, which was a phone-only move.

You see, a phone-only move is one where the IT department moves your phone (they did that a day early too :)) but that's it.  You're responsible for getting your stuff to where it goes.

What this means is that I spent all day today moving my stuff from my old office to my new office.  Back and forth with load after load of stuff.  No boxes, because for a phone-only move, they don't give you boxes.  You've got to schlep your stuff yourself.  I started just after I posted todays blog post and finished at 7:30 this evening.

Fortunately for me, someone in the area of my old office had brought their personal handtruck into work - this thing is a thing of beauty - not only is it a normal handtruck, it's got 4 wheels and a tray that snaps on turning it into a two level cart.

It was also convenient that the service elevator is about 20 feet from my old office and about 10 feet from my new one.  That made things easier. But the fire doors on the service elevator kept on closing.  And I couldn't prop them up because they were fire doors.

That came in real handy when I was moving the Star Destroyer.  It just barely fit on the cart but it was far better than carrying it by hand (I've had to do that a couple of times).  But the bookcase didn't fit, which meant I had to carry it by hand (not a big deal, it was just bulky once I took the shelves off).

The books and Legos went up before lunch, the afternoon was spent hauling computers and setting them up again (again, the handcart was my friend - I've got a 20 inch CRT and a 19 inch CRT and they're HEAVY).  By about 5:30PM, I was totally wiped - towards the end of the afternoon, I was dripping sweat like it was coming out of a leaky faucet (sorry if that's TMI).  Valorie and Daniel came at about 6:30 to help me move the last bits of stuff.  I'd still not be done if they hadn't come and provided that last burst of energy.

On the other hand, except for some framed artwork that I need to put up tomorrow, everything I had up in my old office is up in the new office.  And I've got some more wall space to put up some stuff that wasn't up in the old office, like my dead mouse collection.

I still need to spend a bit of time working on the new office to make sure that I can fit everything - right now, for example, my laptop doesn't have a home, and I need to fix that.  I also need to clear out some room - the desk is too cramped for my tastes right now (and I need to fiddle with the height of it and my monitor).

And I still hate office moves.  Especially phone-only office moves.  The ONLY saving grace that they have is that my office is now totally set up - I don't have to do the unpacking thingy, which is nice.

Before someone asks, if I'm moving from one building to another (and I haven't done that since 2003), I take the Legos home with me and bring them back the next day.  I've not yet had to do that with the Star Destroyer, I think it'll survive the trip (it's fairly well architected).  I've moved the Statue of Liberty five times now without too many horrible mishaps (although I did have to rebuild her torch twice before I realized how weak her arm was). 

I forgot - did I mention that I hate office move?  Just wanted to make sure everyone knew that.

 

  • Figuring out what IT did with your computers after a move is always fun. One guy I know came in and had to figure out why the network connection wasn't working on both his computers even though the cable was plugged in and he could ping between the two. After a few minutes, he found out that IT had connected the two computers to each other.
  • Note to self: Attempt not to acquire as much crap^H^H^H^Hstuff as Larry.
    I keep all my test machines (6) on a single wheeled board, which also hosts the KVM and power strip. Maybe I should put the hubs there as well.
  • The Star Destroyer looks awesome, but isn't it a bit big to have in your office?
  • I'm surprised MS hasn't moved to IP phones. Then you can do "Admin-Free Moves" by just plugging your existing physical phone into the jack in your new office. I always preferred those types of moves to the ones requiring gremlins.
  • Edward, I don't know - it fits on the top shelf of my bookcase, so... It's about 10 inches shorter than the Statue of Liberty, so...

    And it sure does make one heck of a statement. I've had co-workers bring their kids over to see it, and I periodically have people stop in the hall outside my office to admire it. Which is cool, I LIKE people stopping by :)
  • Looking at the numbers, MSFT's revenue is about a million bucks a year for the merely average person in the product division. Do you think they just blew about 10 grand having you lug furniture around? I wonder how much a high class service that would box your office, move overnight, and unbox would cost.
  • Donnie,
    It's not just the phone. There's other stuff that has to be updated - the address book entry in the global address list, the location of my mail slot (we do still get physical mail here), etc.

    It's not a huge amount, but there IS administrative overhead that just simply has to happen - it's not just physically moving the phone.
  • > Editors Note: This was posted last Thursday evening, and was promptly lost in a blog rollback. Apologies to those who have already read it.

    Your blog just suffered from a "moving" issue :)
  • You have Lego in your office? Did I read about you in Microserfs?
  • Norman, I only started putting Legos in my office back in about 1997 or so, so it's unlikely.

    And Legos in the office is far from being a unique trait at Microsoft.

    As far as I know, I'm not in Microserfs - I've never met Douglas Copeland.
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