Monday, July 24, 2006

The Company Move - Part 2

September arrives and we begin asking about new buildings again. More whispers about place in locations not far off from the past list, though at least Sand Hill Road was no longer on the agenda.

We were told in October that the hold up on getting ourselves signed up with one of these locations was getting a letter of intent passed through the legal department of our parent company. Still, we had enough time to get things setup, get access to the building, begin the move in early February so that come April 1, 2006, we would be free of our old building.

The legal excuse continued until early November when it was announced that we are being sold by our parent company to one of our biggest competitors. This is the real reason nothing has gone on since September.

We are told that we won't be able to sign a lease until the deal is closed because our parent company doesn't want to be on the hook for anything and the buyer won't sign anything until we belong to them.We are assured that the deal will close by the end of November, first week of December at the latest. After that, we can get on with our moving plans.

January 1, 2006: The deal closes.

During the second week of January, the Director of Facilities for our new company shows up. I will call him Smithers. He comes in and talks to us enthusiastically about moving. He is going to send out a survey for us to take so he can get our input. Some of us go talk to our old CIO. He has been given a nice severance package if he stays for a given duration and has been relegated to an advisory role. He tell us that all of his work has been tossed and that Smithers is here to start from scratch.

Smithers takes his survey and then talks to us about the results. He, at least, does not have a vested interest in moving the building closer to his home and through some very faulty calculations, declares that in our current general area is the best place, commute-wise, for our office to be located. We can see on his chart that he has left off the people in Fremont and a couple in Gilroy who would skew the whole thing south, but at least in the same area means nobody's commute gets worse.

Smithers says he is going to hire a real estate rep out here (having let go the one we had been working with for five months) and that said rep will meet with the departments to find out their needs. Smithers will be off in the UK finishing up moving the one of the company facilities out there.

Departments without a lot of inherent infrastructure... people who can do their jobs at home on a laptop... remained unconcerned. My boss, who is directly responsible for a lab with 180 servers and the entire infrastructure for our software build system, was starting to get nervous. We get together our space requirements and deliver them to the real estate person.

She goes off to do her thing. She comes back and asks if a place that is all offices is okay with us. Well, Tim is gone, our VP isn't opposed, so we say sure, why not. Despite the fact that I keep hearing different people claim that "such-and-such a group doesn't like offices" I have yet to find anybody at our location who would choose a cube over an office.

Smithers gets back and tells us that they need to get some stuff together and signed, but we should be ready to move at the end of February. That gives us a month of buffer on the back side. That also doesn't give us much time to get our crap together for the move.

We get shown the new location, the 7th floor of the Sun building off of Great America Pkwy, right next to Birk's. We get in electrical people, cabling people, moving people, an architect, and start laying out how this is going to happen. We promise extra money to the contractors to get stuff done in time for the move. We cannot have any down time! We put in rush orders on equipment for the new place. We spend because timing is everything!

January 30th, moving boxes arrive. People begin packing up their cubes and offices. My boss packs up nearly everything in his office the day the boxes show up.

We put up a floor map of the new building. We let people pick their offices. Only a few of us have been to the new building, but people are getting excited. New stuff, the promise of a better building, something we were told we deserve, and everybody gets their own office.

I am one of the people who has been to the new building. The offices are 7'x9' and have sliding glass doors with 'privacy stripes' on them that look like they are etched into the glass from a distance, but are in fact stickers. If you took out the desk and put in two bunks and a toilet, it would be a prison cell. I am asked to stop using phrases like "Orwellian" to describe the new place. My boss wants me to be more positive and I have to admit that yes, the place looks cleaner, nicer, it lacks the distinct smell our building has had since the second floor men's room plumbing gave out last May, and that on the 4th of July we can all watch the fireworks at Great America.

About the second week of February we are at the point where we can do no more without regular access to the building. We get the real estate lady to let us in to do some planning, but we need to have the place opened up for us to get electricity in place, air conditioning routed, labs build up, networking done.

Then the word comes down. We are working out some issues in the contract. It will be a little more time before we move.

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