Teleworkers on the move

If only Dave Cassidy had worked in a traditional corporate office last year when he moved his home - and home office...

          If only Dave Cassidy had worked in a traditional corporate office last year when he moved his home - and home office…

          The corporate movers would have boxed his files, crated his PC and peripherals, and wheeled away his desk, chair and filing cabinet. His phone and broadband connections would have been arranged, and Cassidy would have arrived at work one fine Monday morning with all his belongings in place.

          Instead, because he was - and is - a full-time teleworker, Cassidy's move from an apartment in Arlington, Virginia to a house in Fairfax, Virginia, was his own to pull off. In retrospect, he believes he pulled it off quite nicely.

          Moving the home office without disrupting workflow is an exercise in planning and execution. Well-planned, a move can keep the worker productive, and clients and co-workers connected.

          For Cassidy, director of business development with IT consultancy Turner Consulting Group in Washington, DC, a smooth move began with lists. His wife made a master list of tasks to close on the house, vacate the apartment and move into the new residence. Cassidy focused on a list of tasks required to move the home office, including companies to call for new phone and broadband service. He also made a list of people who would need his new contact information.

          The move 25 miles from his former residence left Cassidy with the same area code, but with a new phone and fax number. While he made arrangements for the new service early on, Cassidy wasn't given his new number for a week before the move. Once he knew his new numbers, Cassidy emailed his new contact information to his 15 project administrators and a half-dozen clients, and then followed up with phone calls.

          As an added contact measure, Cassidy's business card provides Turner's corporate office address and main telephone number in Washington. He arranged for the phone company to maintain the number change notification for six months. Another option for workers who don't have corporate phone extensions forwarded to their home offices is a "Mailbox in the Sky," where callers can hear all the new information, and leave a message for the teleworker.

          Before moving in, Cassidy visited the new home to measure the bedroom that would become his office. He noted and measured the location of telephone outlets and phone jacks. This way, he would know how to set up his desk to best accommodate his fax machine, printer and other peripherals.

          While the moving company packed the house and its furniture, Cassidy purchased sturdy packing boxes from U-Haul and packed his office and the home's fragile belongings himself. Office supplies were packed according to the importance of the items enclosed, and the contents were written on each box.

          "Not just 'Files,' but which files," he adds. This way, when he arrived at his new home office, Cassidy could open boxes containing diskettes, files and other frequently used contents first, leaving less-important items to be unpacked once his office was in shape.

          Cassidy packed and moved sensitive equipment - printer, fax, PC and monitor, and digital camera - himself. His kept his laptop containing critical client files with him.

          It also helped that Cassidy closed on his new house three weeks before he had to vacate his apartment. During the window, he moved some of his equipment to the new location and set it up. "We were able to bring things over piece by piece," he says.

          Switching broadband access wasn't so easy. His apartment had Verizon DSL. His new home would have a Cox Cable modem. When Verizon switched his service off a week before his move-out date, Cassidy contacted Cox and arranged to accelerate the switch-on. He then worked from his new residence until they moved in. Because his email address is through Turner, Cassidy had no disruption in email service.

          "My error there was putting any kind of faith in the provider," Cassidy recalls. "If I were to do it again, I would expect to pay for an extra month's service as a cost of leaving."

          Once Cassidy was in his new neighbourhood, he spent a day driving around scouting the public transportation system, as well as restaurants, cafes and other locations that would be good for team and client meetings.

          By planning his move, Cassidy's suffered no performance downtime, he says.

          "My office was the last room packed and first room unpacked," he says. "As a consequence, it's undecorated. But I immediately was surrounded by everything I needed to work. And the move was completely invisible to outsiders."

          Zbar is an author and speaker on telework, free agency, and small or home office (SOHO) issues. His books include Safe@Home: Seven Keys to Home Office Security (FirstPublish, 2001) and Your Profitable Home Business Made E-Z (Made E-Z Products, 2000). Zbar works from home in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. Questions or comments? Write him at Jeff@goinsoho.com.

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