Top 10 Things to Consider Before an Office Move

This list is in outline form to allow for quick reference.  It was written to help Network Depot clients protect themselves against unexpected costs and technical hardships.

  1. Business Continuity
    1. Moves are an interruption – how can impact be minimized?  A good disaster recovery plan is always a plus for any business, and a move could be considered a “scheduled disaster”.
      1. Determine what components of your business are most mission critical.
        1. How can you continue these business processes in the absence of availability of your normal office functions?
        2. Are there paper based methods for getting work done if the system goes on the blink?
        3. How would it affect your business if your internet was out for two weeks?
          1. Look into cloud based solutions for functions like e-mail message continuity and secure file sharing.  These services, while nowhere near as convenient as having your own server functional, are typically not very expensive, and can be used even in good times to enhance business practices.
        4. Make sure, as you would even when you are not moving, that you have a good backup plan in place that delivers both an easy to restore on-site component and an off-site component.  Moves can sometimes result in equipment damage, so good backups are especially important prior to a move.
  2. Internet Access
    1. Internet access has become the life blood of many businesses.  It now serves as the basis for e-mail, for research, for customer relationship management, and sometimes, through VOIP, telephone functionality.   Yet often, it’s one of the last things considered in a move.   A little advance research can go a long way towards avoiding a location decision that limits internet options in a way that can provide frustration for years.  Here are the things to consider up front:
      1. Is Cable Modem service available?  It’s often a very low cost option with great performance.
      2. Is the building management in the Internet business?  This can be both good and bad.  If they have negotiated for, say, a 100MB/s Fiber drop to be available to all building tenants, that is a plus for that location.  If, as many do, they’ve limited access to providers to only those that pay them a kickback of some sort, this should be a red flag.
      3. Is a low cost DSL service available?  Often, a low cost DSL service, in combination with cable modem service, can provide for better performance and, with equipment that allows for it, better reliability than the considerably more expensive options like T1 service.  Because cable and DSL use different cable paths to the building, the chance of a complete internet outage is heavily reduced if both options are in place.
      4. Will you be sticking with your current provider?  Many times you can do better in a new location and an existing contract is usually only tied to the location you are currently in.  You might even be able to do better with your existing vendor than you did when the original contract was written.
      5. Are static IP addresses available?  Static IP addresses are normally inexpensive and well worth the cost as they allow for much more flexibility in service that can be provided from your location.  Dynamic IP based services generally are of lower quality (i.e. not business-class) so the ability to provide static IP addresses is often a good barometer of the quality that can be expected from an ISP.
    2. Get help from your IT service provider in doing an advance audit of your options. Most quality IT companies will provide this service free of charge as it affects their ability to serve you easily as well, so they have a vested interest in making sure you make the right choices.
  3. Telecom Availability
    1. Although e-mail has now surpassed phone based services like voice and fax as the primary method of business communication, a good telecom provider is still a key component of a successful office.  Telephone access is typically provided in one of the following methods:
      1. Analog lines – also known as POTS (“Plain Old Telephone Service”)
        1. Pros:
          1. Simplest to understand
          2. Works with all generic telephone equipment and thus doesn’t require a higher end central phone system
          3. Works with standard fax machines and computer modems
        2. Cons:
          1. Cost, with enough lines, is higher
          2. More complex to troubleshoot
          3. Does not support “trunk” based functionality like DID (Direct Inbound Dial)
      2. T1 – based voice services (BRI or PRI based)
        1. Pros:
          1. With enough lines it can be lower cost than analog.
          2. Supports DID functionality and works better with more “business” type phone systems
          3. Is not susceptible to issues that affect analog lines like wet cables, crackling, etc.
        2. Cons:
          1. Requires a phone system that supports it, which may cost more (although more full featured) than some businesses want to pay
          2. Does not support analog devices, so faxes and modems or alarm dialers still need analog lines provided.
      3. Flex-T1 or VOIP and Data combo systems
        1. Pros:
          1. For just the right-sized businesses, sometimes a single solution can handle all components (Internet, Voice, and in some cases, phone equipment)
          2. Because of the “all-in-one” nature, this can be a lower cost solution than some others
          3. Basically, the advantage of the system is that there is a pooled T1 or DSL line and bandwidth is allocated as it is used.  If more people are on the phone the internet speed slows, but if they are not, the full T1 is available for internet use.
        2. Cons:
          1. All eggs in one basket.  One cable cut and everything stops working
          2. Internet performance is lower than a la carte ISP and Telco solutions will normally provide
    2. Work with a qualified telecom broker (usually your IT provider can recommend one) who can provide a free audit of available telco options.  Because brokers are usually paid equally by all providers, there is no benefit to selecting a vendor for any reason other than who provides the best value.  Often, they are able to find better deals than businesses attempting to do the research on their own.  The better telecom brokers often handle  all after-sale interactions with the telcos, thus making available a single point of contact in case of required change or support.
    3. If you don’t currently have a specific vendor already for your telephone equipment, work with your IT Service provider to either find one, or if the phone system is something they clearly are able to understand and manage, gain their assistance in moving the phone system, and timing the move of that phone system for least interruption.  Make sure all efforts related to phone and data are coordinated and that independent vendors who don’t know each other are used, that they have time early on in the process to discuss how voice and data will integrate and reduce the potential for unwelcome surprise.
  4. Change of Address Notifications
    1. Physical Address Change – Although this seems pedestrian, change of address notifications are absolutely critical to service continuity.  Imagine, for instance, that the domain name attached to your company expires and you are not notified.  The potential for business interruption can be catastrophic.  Make absolutely sure that all vendors are aware of the address change as soon as possible, and those that register products or services on your behalf follow up as well.
      1. Setting up an intermediary stop in advance for mail – many cloud-based SPAM filtering solutions provide this already.  Mail goes to the filtering service, and the filtering service allows instant adjustment of where it delivers mail after it is cleaned.
      2. Making firewall changes once the equipment is moved,  to ensure that public facing server services continue to work.
      3. Publishing new DNS records to point to the new IP locations.
      4. Distributing new instructions to staff to replace any existing instructions that might involve raw IP addresses (for example, VPN clients).
  5. Hardware Requirements
    1. What new equipment will be necessary because of the move?  Often this list can include:
      1. New network switches (to connect all the network nodes)
      2. New UPS devices for services and workstations
      3. A rack to store everything
      4. New mounting equipment for desktops and monitors
    2. If additional staff is one of the reasons for the move, new equipment will need to be ordered, installed and integrated.
  6. Scheduling in the right order
    1. Moves require the involvement of several professions, including architects, movers, builders/contractors, electricians, HVAC personnel, etc.  It’s important that scheduling is done to ensure that all of these tradespeople can work together and none get in the way of each other.  Here are the suggestions as they relate to the IT world:
      1. Two to three months in advance is the ideal time to ensure your ISP and telco options will be available within a week prior to moving in.
      2. Access to the telephone  closet(s) in the main section of the floors should be cleared with management of  the building, preferably on an on-demand basis.  It will be needed for, most likely, 3 instances.
        1. Telco access
        2. ISP access
        3. Premise wiring provider access
      3. For premise wiring specifically,  the following should be assured:
        1. The GC should show a willingness to work with third party providers and delay putting walls up and tiles in until low voltage work is complete
        2. Some GCs prefer to use their own people for financial reasons (read: kickbacks or profit) and will make it difficult for third party cabling companies to co-exist.  If you find this to be the case, a good countermeasure is making the same demands of the GC’s group that would be expected from a low-voltage cabling provider.  Refer to the list under the “Premise Wiring” section for more detail.
  7. Labor Costs
    1. In general, labor associated with a move can be divided into the following categories:
      1. Preparation of equipment for the move
      2. Actual moving of the equipment with the following considerations:
        1. Where possible, have the movers move desktop computers – label each component for easy re-assembly, but save the cost of highly qualified technicians being used as manual labor.
        2. Have the IT provider do the actual moving of the servers and other key network components as well.
        3. If at all possible, lower your costs by scheduling your move on a weekday to avoid after hours or weekend rates
  8. Air Conditioning and electrical requirements
    1. HVAC and Electrical requirements should be discussed during the architecture/design phase of the process.
    2. Overall, the standard rules apply to the individual offices.
    3. For “server rooms”, ensure one 20-amp dedicated power quad per 4 servers.
    4. For locations where there will be multiple laser printers or high end duplication machines, do the same.
    5. For conference rooms, remember that power may be best distributed for some purposes from the center of the floor underneath the conference room table, and may also be required behind a wall mount large screen TV.  These are things to think about in the design phase.
    6. For the server rooms, ensure additional cooling and good powered return vents (a fan is an example.)  The key is to ensure cooler air in, warmer air out.  If possible, make allowances for water drainage from the server room such plumbing is easily available nearby.  This allows for a portable AC unit to be a possibility should it become necessary.
  9. Premise wiring
    1. More often than not, moving into a new space involves making the space your own by demolishing some existing walls and putting up others.   In every case, it involves deciding early on what rooms will have what function, and how many people would be working in each location.  Our recommendations when considering premise wiring are as follows:
      1. While some wiring companies my try to “save you money” by installing a single data jack and a single phone jack in each location, don’t economize in that way.  With the advent of telephony/network integration, many telephones now can be powered over ethernet cabling, and can also transmit data to PC networks, but they can only do this if the jacks are properly installed.   Don’t run one of each – run 2 data jacks to each location.  All phones can work over data jacks.  Not all phones, and no printers, can run over phone jacks.
      2. For each person, install 2 data drops.  One for PC, one for phone.  If there is to be a shared network devices like a printer or a scanner, consider installing a third jack in that location.
      3. When buying cubicles, ensure that they are able to easily integrate cabling along internal conduit.  Most new systems allow this.
      4. Use Category 6 cabling or higher – it can mean a 1000% improvement in speed.
      5. Ensure that the company doing your wiring can certify the cable, once in the walls, for data traffic.  Just because the wires are in the right place doesn’t mean the cable is good.  Standard electricians, sometimes used by general contractors due to lower cost, often can not certify cable and bad cabling can lead to much more expensive results in lost productivity and repair.
    2. Think about distribution of wireless signal.  The larger the space, the more likely you’ll need to use more than just a single access point, and will need a distributed wireless solution.  In most cases, a single drop in a strategic location above the ceiling or near the top of a wall is a good place for cabling to an ethernet-powered wireless access point.
    3. If you are lucky enough to have chosen a place with the right type of wiring already in place, have  the existing cabling certified as data quality.   Doing so at this time helps to eliminate extremely costly diagnosis costs down the road for what can prove to be intermittent and hard to chase network issues.
  10. Staffing Additions
    1. Moves usually happen for one of two reasons – downsizing or upsizing.  If the reason you are moving is that you need to hire more people and you need  a place to put them, you’re also going to need to think about the type of expense each additional person brings as it relates to IT.  Here are some things to consider:
      1. Additional phones will be required.  Can your existing phone system handle the increased capacity?
      2. Additional PCs will be required as well.  Along with those PCs come:
        1. Microsoft Office Licenses
        2. Client Access Licenses for access to the server(s)
        3. Monitors
        4. Uninterruptible Power Supplies
        5. Personal printers (if so desired)
        6. Additional network equipment if the number of additional employees is sufficient
        7. Additional firewall licenses for telecommuters to use VPN
        8. More LOB (Line-of-business) licenses, as needed
        9. Licenses for applications like Adobe Suites, Quickbooks, etc.
        10. Furniture (if not already in place).
      3. Labor costs will be increased if a move also includes integration of new personnel, but as moves are usually done as projects and are sometimes financed through a single large loan, it may be the right time to consider including in that loan the cost of additional equipment and labor for integration of the new people into the network.  The less out of pocket the better.


There will be enough unanticipated surprises that come from any move.  With careful adherence to the recommendations outlined above, and by involving your IT company early in the process, you can ensure that at least your network won’t be the source of any unwelcome surprise.

Business IT Solutions

Network Depot has been providing professional IT Support for businesses in and around Reston, VA since 1991. We strive to give our clients Enterprise-level services and solutions at prices that work for small businesses.

Time and experience has helped us develop best practices and workflow procedures around a proactive philosophy designed to keep your focus on your business, not your technology.

Proven IT Experts

Our team of experts can become your outsourced IT department; responding to issues quickly, often before you even know about them. Your IT infrastructure is our priority!