Tuesday, March 7, 2023

I'm Running a Sh*tshow, Part 3

 The continued saga of being in charge of the office move.

AKA, "I wish I had a dollar for every co-worker who completely ignored my emails."

"This email seems important and relevant
to my interests. Better pretend it doesn't exist."

I'm a firm believer in communication. Here's the thing about communication, especially in a business setting: Taken to extremes, it can make you seem anal, or overbearing, or like a nag-hag. But it rarely results in a situation where anyone can blame you for not communicating. 

Conversely, failure to communicate is almost always the fault of the person who fails to communicate.

Ask Strother Martin.

Especially in a situation where you've got over 100 people scattered to the remote workplace winds, all of them waiting to report to a brand-new office, with all the logistical challenges that presents, it should be incumbent on everyone to not only communicate, but to pay attention when other people communicate with you. This is common sense. It is also, apparently, complete unreasonable nonsense.

I've been updating my co-workers to within an inch of their lives for weeks now. I thought, modestly, that I was doing a good job...being clear, concise, comprehensive. This is what I learned, over decades of technical writing, that communication entails. 

Let me give you two examples of how freaking wrong I was.

First example: I sent an email letting people know how to obtain access cards for the new office. Basically it said, "You can pick up your card on xx days at xx location. If you can't do that, you can show up at yy location at yy time. If you can't do that, you'll need to come to zz location."

Plenty of options, all very specific and plainly stated. (Keep in mind that I work with engineers, who are supposed to be, like, all straightforward and literal-minded and shit.)

Almost immediately after sending this email to my team, I received a reply from one of my co-workers that said, and I quote: "How do I pick up my access card?"

Urge to kill: Rising.

Second example: As a courtesy, I sent an email to all of my counterparts across the company, letting them know the schedule for our office move. Specifically, I emphasized that we were shutting down the current office and that EVERYONE would be working remotely for a couple of weeks until our new space was ready. I gave the date on which our server would be shut down and our furniture would be removed. I said we would not be able to accept deliveries or receive visitors after X date, because *no one would be there.*

Yesterday I got a message from one of those counterparts that said, and I quote: "[Big Shot Executive] is scheduled to visit your office this week. Will there be people there for him to meet with?"

My response: "The office is empty. Everyone is working from home."

The response to my response (again, I quote): "OK. Is that going to be all week?"

Here's what I would have written in a perfect world: "No, we're going to reconnect the server and put all the furniture back on Thursday, and everyone will be back in the office for one day for BSE's visit."

Fortunately, our world is imperfect, so I simply politely emphasized the meaning of "empty."


I've aged approximately 476 years during this relocation process, Drunkards. If I still exist this time next week, I'll let you know how move-in day went.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

I'm Running a Sh*tshow, Part 2

 So where were we?

Oh yeah, I'm overseeing a massive relocation of my office. How terrifying.

Free graphics are great, aren't they?

In our last installment, I was a naive little thing. I had been attending construction meetings at our new office space for months, in which I listened intently to people who know more about construction than I do, to approximately the same extent that a gynecologist knows more about female anatomy than a 14 year old boy with a gaming addiction and limited Google skills. If you catch my drift.

Anyway, the construction meetings were fun because they got me out of the office for a while and they always wrapped up with a walk-through of the new space so we could see how the renovations were coming along. And then all my co-workers would ask me "How's it lookin' over there?" and I could smile knowingly and drop a few hints or show off a couple of pictures I'd taken on my phone that didn't really show a lot but kept people super-interested and hanging on my every word.

I am absolutely insufferable sometimes.

Yes, I am.

Oh sure, this whole time I've been making seating charts and talking with vendors and such. But honestly, none of that stuff has been really hard work. It's given me a little bit of extra overtime, which never hurts. But mostly I've been supporting the people doing the hard work.

Then, last week, shit got real. We started packing, and scheduling movers, and sent everyone but a skeleton crew home to work so said skeletons could do the labor of getting an office of 80+ people out of one building and into another.

And suddenly an enormous amount of responsibility perched, like a hungry condor, upon my shoulders.

Not a condor.
But super cute.

People had to do what I told them to do. Which means I had to tell them what to do. And guys, I'm no damn good at telling people what to do. Which is probably why, over the last week, so many people have not done, you know, that.

I've had "helpful" co-workers who, instead of putting trash in trash bags, threw loose papers and junk straight into the trash gondola lent to us by property management. And then left the freaking gondola in the elevator lobby and walked away

I've had hard-working helpers who decided that the most important things to pack first were all the scissors. Because who needs scissors when you're wrapping, packing, and breaking down boxes?

I've had wise IT guys who shut down our server when I was trying to finish up a bunch of work before the server was shut down. Without a heads-up or a warning. His reasoning? "I had no idea you were here." (I was one of just four people who had been in the office all week. And, you know, was supervising everyone's activities.)

IT guys in general are amazing. But that was a camel, meet straw situation.

"My back! My back!"

And I had a vendor who gave me a quote to remove some marker boards. Not move them, not reinstall them at the new place, not even repair the holes in the walls. Just take. Them. Down. Their price? A hundred bucks a pop. That one nearly gave me a nervous breakdown. (Our awesome moving guy, who is awesome, awesomely offered to do it instead and lowered my blood pressure about thirty points.)

The best part of today was when the very last box was packed, the very last piece of paper (that was probably very important until the moment it stood between me and being done with packing) was thrown away, the very last unidentifiable key was put on an overburdened key ring to be dealt with later. I took my belongings and went home to work until the move is over.

The Siamese Kitten is thrilled to have me home. That makes me happy. I'm thrilled to not have to drive to work in the morning. (I'll be making plenty of trips to both the old and new offices. But I'm not making a single appointment to meet with a vendor or contractor that requires me to drive during rush hour.) And I love the fact that I can start at 7:00 a.m. and stop at 7:00 p.m. but only actually do eight or nine hours of actual work.

Because ultimately I'm the hardest-working lazy person you'll ever meet.

Next: People and why I don't want to deal with them when I'm trying to be awesome.