Move like a pro — tips from Join’s Tech Concierge

By Join Digital Inc.

Moving to a new office can be arduous and take away from business objectives. The rush to be operational and back to business as normal can disrupt workplace technology. With so much to consider and account for in an office move, making sure the network is meeting business requirements can easily slip.

Here are some important items to consider when moving and getting settled into your new space. Keep in mind that moving to a new office is a chance to start fresh, optimize your network, and create an even more secure work environment. We’ve taken the time to list some elements to consider at both stages of your move to ensure everyone is satisfied in their new workspace.

Before You Move

Inventory Everything: Whether it’s a series of spreadsheets or elaborate inventory management software, it is critical to take stock of your infrastructure before and after the move. Having this inventory will not only help with loss prevention but will determine your entire network and hardware deployment plan for your new office. Work with your engineering or IT teams to help decide core needs such as power outlet totals, amount of Wireless Access Points required to set up for adequate network coverage, and core server needs such as temperature regulation.

When taking inventory, try to be as detailed as possible and record core inventory pieces such as individual blades on servers or PDU’s. It may seem unlikely with a large metal rack, but entire prod servers have gone missing just from a misplaced box exchanging multiple hands. After moving, take immediate inventory and compare findings. This will also set up your finance department to help find and correct any potential loss you may find.

Wired Vs. Wireless Capacity: In our experience, the most overlooked factor in preparing for a move is determining how many total devices will be connected. More importantly, determining how many wired devices will be moved and require permanent ethernet connectivity. While most companies may be prepared hardware and server wise, the problem will most likely arise with the number of wall ports in the new office. We’ve seen plenty of businesses set up temporary switches or extremely long ethernet cables in common areas to account for devices, while waiting for construction, due to a lack of power and ethernet ports.

Flex Your Backups: Simply put, make sure you backup and test your recovery methods.

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Photo by  Erda Estremera on  Unsplash

Once Moved In

Printers, Scanners, and Communication Devices: The most important items to test are often the most frequently used. Phones, printers, and scanners in common areas have the trickiest setup process. They often require special configurations like setting up a brand new VLAN or individual user registration. Even for companies that may have open access for all users to print, the issue lies in communicating with other floors or areas. Having your deployment plan covered enables the entire office to hit the ground running from day one, which is invaluable.

Testing Tools: Lastly we want to leave you with some tools often used in site moves that help determine your network’s flaws and potential. Now that the move has occurred and your basic network has been deployed, it’s time to perform some checks to see if all areas of your office can be optimized for network coverage.

Speed Testing — First off, testing the overall speed of your network before your workforce returns can show the potential speed for your office. While this number may fluctuate, it will give you an acceptable range to strive for and to provide your engineering team with a baseline. This also tests, before other factors are introduced, the speeds that were promised by your ISP.

There are a lot of speed testing websites to choose from, however, we recommend running test sites such as Speedtest and Fast multiple times to help determine average upload/download speeds. Test in multiple locations as problem areas or dead zones can be found using the tools. Multiple factors such as WAP distance and signal interference can come into play making a common area or conference room provide poor signal.

Network Traffic Testing — A vital tool before, during, and after you move. These applications perform multiple tasks, but most notably they run performance stress testing on your network. Load as many pages and sources until the network begins to show degradation. Often these come in the form of packet sending applications or automatic page loading tools that run in cycles. You can even target a specific server or address to make sure it’s safe from repeated access attempts or even Denial of Service attacks.

There are many Network testing services available and the right choice depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Some services are offered as a browser based solution to scan a certain device when needed. While other solutions are fully integrated into your environment often living physically as a device on your network with around the clock monitoring. Consult your engineering team to work out what vital components need to be met.

Port Scanner — Running a port scanning program is vital both on arrival and when your workforce is back up and running. These programs help determine what ports or hosts are open/closed and more importantly what can be accessed both internally and externally. This is the most common method for investigation for hackers as they can see network vulnerabilities and create a plan of attack or entry via any open port. This is crucial for your security and IT teams to perform as soon as possible when moving into a new location.

Wifi Analyzer —One of the most common tools used in the field for us is a WiFi analyzer. These help identify how the WiFi is performing in a very specific area. When utilized they provide vital statistics like the signal strength and how many devices are connected in that location. Running an analyzer in congested areas such as conference rooms or well insulated rooms can show poor performance. It can help determine if the problem is configuration based or if another access point is needed to reach the network.

WiFi scanners can also show wider issues such as signal interference, radio channel overlapping, and data rate or transfer abnormalities. inSSIDer is one of our favorite tools for both Mac & PC users as it’s free (with email signup) and one of the most comprehensive tools available. For us, this tool is vital to open at the start of our site work so that we can check for common holdbacks and optimize the network.

Moving Forward

As your office gets back up to speed, it’s important to know that all the tools and methods listed above still remain very useful. Having teams checking on the speed and reliability of your network will continue to benefit your entire organization. A simple but important last tip is to take the time to document and pass on the methods used by your teams. This can help future staff and be a reference tool for the best network configuration. This helps in times where we all wonder “Is it me or is it the network?”

Hope this guide helps your move go smoothly and cheers to your new space!

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