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.


  1. Not to pat myself on the back, because I might strain something, but I've become an expert at searching old emails, and even recent ones, because I'm so averse to asking someone to repeat what they might have already said. Or just bothering anyone.
    The downside is I'm reluctant to tell someone something if there's even the slightest chance they might already know it but when I get told I'm "oversharing" I feel relieved. Better too much than not enough.

  2. I have managed, a number of times, to be on leave or traveling for work during major office moves. I packed my boxes, left the office and returned to a new office that was fully functional. That said, I *know* how much happened in my absence to make that possible. I wish you luck, and infinite patience!


You're thinking it, you may as well type it. The only comments you'll regret are the ones you don't leave. Also, replies to threads make puppies grow big and strong.