My out-of-office experience

A while back, I wrote about my department’s need to move out of our building so that parts of it could be renovated. It’s now Week 3 in our new location, and I have to report that all is going pretty well. Choosing what tools and resources to bring with me was difficult, but I believe that I now have everything that I need to do 99% of the work that I do.

Aside from the limited resources, the only negative aspect to our little office is the fact that we’re positioned right over the main entrance to the building. There’s a buzzer in the door that sounds when it’s been left open for a little too long – about five seconds. If it continues to remain open, then an alarm sounds. Most of the visitors to the Helpdesk comment on how annoying it must be. I won’t disagree with them.

There are two positive elements to our location, one of which will get only a passing mention. We have a very nice view of Joe Pool Lake through the large window that forms one side of the room. That window is right in front of me, so I get to look out at the water all day long.

The other good part is the exposure that we’re getting to all of the people who work in the Key building, the largest on campus. The Helpdesk is very easy to find now, being at the top of the main staircase. Many more people have commented on the convenience of our location than have mentioned the annoying buzzer. Our colleagues are enjoying the new access they have to us and our services.

For me, that means that I am often much busier than I have been in my regular workspace. However, that increased work typically involves answering questions and solving small problems that a person would not normally bring to our attention. In the long term, being available to help with the small matters now will reduce the number of big problems that folks experience, since we “headed them off at the pass”. I’m finding that a five-minute walk to another building can make a big difference.

The effect that our presence here has created causes me to wonder if it wouldn’t be helpful to either: a) continue the presence of one or two people in this building, or b) hold a regular “urgent care clinic” for computer users each day during specified hours. The key concept is to maintain our accessibility. What do you think? Let me know by posting your comments.

P.S. I would like to publicly thank my friends, Loren and Kensey Ledebuhr, for their gift of an extensive, portable toolkit; it has proven to be invaluable in our new situation. As for them, they’re somewhere in remote Papua New Guinea learning how to live without electricity, so I have no idea when they’ll see this post.