Susan Eisen: Co-ordinating the Elman Wall Move

 

Sitting here now in our bright new offices, it is hard to remember what it was like this time last week, surrounded by piles and piles of crates and bubble wrap, and hoping all our meticulous plans would work out.

What I have learned, however, is that no detailed project plans, Gantt charts, critical path analyses, or sheer hard work are enough to match the power of the combined forces of BT, a removal company with no vans (or men) and an overzealous cleaner!

I helped Elman Wall move into their old offices at John Princes street nine years ago, so when Jonathan asked me to help out again, I leapt at the chance. I knew Elman Wall had outgrown their existing space and there were never enough toilets, but over the years EW had gone mainly paperless and mostly wireless – how hard could it be?

Jonathan’s one instruction to me was that for clients and staff it had to be business as usual, and I think that we got there in the end.

Let’s start with BT. This is the 21st century in the heart of the City of London, the nerve centre of British business. Surely there would be no problem installing telephone and data lines? Wrong. In the end, after almost two months of waiting, our lovely cabling guy managed to install 94m of cable to us on the 8th floor himself, and BT came up with our new numbers at the 11th hour, phew!

Now for the second of my triumvirate – the removal company. It was a textbook procurement – I met several removal companies, obtained several quotes and references, and went through the T&C’s in more detail than is good for my health. The chosen company had even moved Mr Cameron into Downing Street. What I subsequently learned was that all planning comes to nothing if on the day the order at the depot was lost in translation, and instead of sending two trucks, and ten men, we get something no bigger than an ice cream van, with two befuddled men expecting to pick up a couple of crates. Being the hottest day of the year, by this stage we would all have preferred an ice cream van! Funnily enough, all managers at the removal company were suddenly unavailable, and all their mobiles turned off. Still, they came good in the end – over the next 25 hours more and more trucks and crew of various sizes turned up, and we got there eventually. Not that any of the managers have managed to make contact since.

And finally, for the icing on the great office move cake, the overzealous cleaner. I think the first two problems above were as result of under-performing. This is a case of over-performing. We asked our lovely cleaner to do a deep clean of our old offices so that the new occupants could move into spotless shiny new offices. Our cleaner took that to include unplugging any cable that was plugged into an ISDN or telephone socket, and sorting everything by colour and size and storing neatly in boxes. Luckily we got there before she had finished, and were able to spend a couple of hours putting everything right, but after a 25 hour move, that was all we needed.

So come Monday morning the computers are working, the phones are working (more or less) and everyone is nicely settled at their new desks working away. The sun is shining, the views are amazing, and I am happy in the knowledge that they have enough space (and toilets) not to need to move again for a few more years!

Thanks must go to an amazing, ingenious and energetic team of people whose dogged determination helped make it happen. Now come and visit us!

Susan Eisen

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