Moving Offices? Watch out for data cabling issues!

Man Cutting Wire

There’s many things to plan for when occupying a new office space. Move logistics can be daunting and often your IT infrastructure is the furthest thing from your mind. The truth is, planning for an smooth transition of your IT infrastructure is one of the most critical aspects of a successful move. I’ve often jokingly referred to IT being like toilet paper… you take it for granted that it’s always going to be there but when it’s out, you sure do panic!

One critical aspect of IT move planning is your data and voice cabling. Networks are so commonplace that almost every office space has some sort of existing cabling. The natural assumption is that you’ll be able to utilize the existing cabling when you move in, and everything will be just fine. This line of thinking is fraught with peril and you shouldn’t make any assumptions when it comes to cabling. A typical worst-case scenario goes something like this:

  1. There’s existing cabling in your soon-to-be office space so you say to yourself “I’ll just use what’s there.”
  2. You assume that the vacating tenant will leave the cabling in ‘as is’ condition, or you specifically ask the landlord to make sure the cabling is left intact.
  3. You take occupancy of the space only to find that the cabling has been cut with butcher knife and is rendered useless. Yikes!

There’s a few reasons this type of thing occurs:

  1. The hard truth is that the vacating tenant often doesn’t give a rip if you inherit functional voice/data cabling (that they likely paid for).
  2. The vacating tenant wants to take their patch panel and/or server rack (that they also likely paid for) with them. In order to do this, they have to either cut the cables or rip them out of the back of the patch panel.
  3. There are requirements in the lease, or local building and fire codes, that require them to remove the existing cabling.

If you fall victim to this situation, chances are that you won’t find out until you take occupancy of the space, which is often far too late in the game to do much about it. Remember what I said about IT being like toilet paper? Occupying a space without data cabling is like being stranded on the toilet without a roll. Now you’ll need to find a cabling contractor to bail you out in a hurry which is often expensive and highly stressful.

One way to avoid a bad scenario is to assume that you’ll need to deal with cabling issues once you have the keys to the space and allow yourself enough time to deal with them prior to setting your move-in date. You should also evaluate the cabling situation far in advance of getting the keys. Make it one of your site evaluation steps to inspect the quality of the cabling and the speeds it can support. Do your best to protect the cabling when the previous tenant vacates the space and if they do happen to cut it, have a contingency plan in place for how to deal with it. Having a cabling contractor on stand-by is also a great precaution.

We highly recommend retaining SisAdmin to assist with the IT components of your office relocations. Cabling is just one of the many things that need to be planned and accounted for during an office move.