Thursday, March 23, 2023

I'm Running a Sh*tshow, Part 4

Guys, I think...this is the last installment of the Great Office Move of 2023! 

Here are the first three parts if you want to review:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

So. We are moved in. Those of you who have moved home or office before know what "moved in" means. We are fully out of the old place. We are fully in the new place. All the boxes are unpacked. Their contents are spread out in an ungodly patternless mess, and nobody quite knows where to put it all or where to find it in the meantime.

You know, moved in.

Or, everything everywhere all at once. As it were.

I'll spare you the details of the long days and the 10,421 details I've been chasing. They're not interesting, not even to me. But here are a few tidbits to tie off this stressful, difficult, maddening, weird experience for good and all. Enjoy.

People who know what they're doing are amazing, no matter what they do. I benefited from the experience and skill of so many people, from furniture installers to electricians to construction workers who somehow turned a cavernous empty space into a beautiful, modern, perfectly put-together office. I couldn't do one percent of what these talented men (and they were almost entirely men in this case) could do, and they all have my mad respect for their hard work.

Making hard decisions is hard. The day before all 100+ people were supposed to report to the new office - a Sunday afternoon - I received word that a number of electrical and other problems hadn't been resolved. All through the buildout process, my boss had been adamant about our move-in date. Adamant. And he had left it in my hands to make it happen. On that Sunday afternoon I conferred with several other people who 1) believed it couldn't happen but 2) had no intention of saying that on the record. It was, without a doubt, the biggest and most difficult judgment call I ever had to make in my 350-year (or whatever it's been) career. In the end I made the decision to recommend pushing back the sacred move-in day. And my boss acted on my recommendation. was the right call. 

Artist's rendering of my boss hearing
the bad news.

People's priorities are...weird. Our new building has some sweet amenities, including a state-of-the-art gym that includes a yoga studio and showers with towel service. I had people asking me a week before we even moved in when they could start using the facilities. And when I sent out the forms required to get access, it seemed as if the entire business of unpacking, not to mention the actual, you know, work that we all do, stopped dead. I was inundated, first with forms and then with people asking when the access they'd requested 30 minutes earlier would kick in. Never mind that some people still didn't have internet or couldn't find the boxes containing their belongings. All they wanted was to ride the communal sweaty Peloton. For the record, I'll bet an internet dollar that 80% of those people will never use the gym.

Office fixtures are stupid expensive. The whiteboards in our conference rooms cost $700. Each. Those are the smaller ones. The larger ones were over $1,000 each. We spent $60,000 on window shades. The chair at my desk cost $900, and there are more than 60 of them in the office. This is a racket. OMG.

I developed a moderate crush on our construction superintendent. I'm going to call it moderate. Not like a "I have dreamed of him" crush. OK, that's a lie, I have totally dreamed of him. He is super-competent, he is kind, he's smart and funny, and he comes by almost every day to make sure all the little things that need fixing are fixed. He's also so cute. He is married, he has adorable kids, he's 20 years younger than I am, and oh yeah I'm in a committed relationship with a Drummer Boy whom I love with all my heart. But I can, you know, dream. 

I'm a dirty old lady with the heart of a child.

That's the end of this saga. Back to the daily grind, albeit in much nicer digs than before. Was the extreme stress worth it? Probably not. But it gave me four blog posts, and in my world that's a win.

May you live in less interesting times than mine. Thanks for reading.

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.