IT Tips for Setting up a New Office
If you’ve ever opened a new office, you know firsthand how frustrating it can be to deal with I.T. issues for the first few weeks. Here are a few tips to help make your next office setup go smooth:
One big piece that gets missed is that IT is frequently not involved in the planning of a new office early enough. Many business owners assume they can walk in when construction is already complete, plug a couple of things and be up and running. This is a false assumption that will cause delays and cost you more money. Involve IT early.
IT can help with planning the location of the network closet, identifying all network gear that will be needed to get things up and running, assisting with planning location of network wiring, and much more.
Make sure you contact your internet service provider (ISP) well in advance. Some ISP’s are booked out for weeks, while others may have to run lines or install equipment to the building/office. It can take more time and planning than you think. Most business internet services will have a 30-90 day install time. Plan accordingly.
If you plan on having wired devices in the office, having network ports that actually work is pretty important. IT can work with a low voltage electrical contractor to tone out and label all the network ports in the office so you know what is live, and what is not.
From there you need to think about all the devices that you will need. Where will your computers be? Will there be any network-connected printers? Where will your wireless access points go? Are those going to be ceiling mounted? Will your phones plug into the wall with a separate network jack, or will phones and computers be daisy chained on a single jack.
All of this information needs to be part of the plans you give to your low voltage network contractor so they can run network cabling to the right locations.
Offices using VoIP phones need to think ahead. The phone itself will most likely need a wired network connection. If there is only one network jack in a room, and you have a computer that will also need a network connection there are some additional considerations.
Most VOIP phones have the ability to do a pass-through connection to your computer. Essentially, you plug the phone into the wall and then plug the computer into the phone for internet. The one caution I would give is that you should check that the phone has a GB pass-through. Many VOIP phones still have 100MB pass-through, which will bottleneck your speeds to the server if you have them in your office or to the internet if you have a fast enough connection.
Power is the other thing to consider for phones. VOIP Phones get power 1 of 2 ways. Either they get power over Ethernet (POE) or they have a power brick that plugs into an outlet. If you’re planning to run your phones POE, you need to make sure you get a POE switch to accommodate.
Printers & Scanners
A big problem I see with new office setups are lingering printer/scanner issues. If not done right, they can go on for weeks and cause a lot of frustration. Having a good IT person to help set up printers before opening will go a long way. Also, make sure you consider them in your planning so you can hardware printers where possible.
Testing Conference Room Equipment
If you plan to have presentations or meetings in a conference room, be sure to test the tech before your first meeting! Make sure the guest wireless works. Does the video and audio connection work? Do you know where the remote is for the projector/display? Small things like this will come out with a simple test.
Many businesses need security systems and cameras to protect their assets. This is another thing to consider during the planning phase. IT should have some input. Most security cameras will also require hardwired network lines, so this should be part of the plan when discussing with your low voltage electrical contractor.
Where will the cameras go? How many do you need to get coverage in all the right areas? Will you need to run network cables to these locations? These are all considerations when adding a security system to your new office setup.
Wireless coverage is an extremely important part of the network setup. With more and more folks on laptops and mobile devices, having solid Wi-Fi is a necessity.
Plan this from the beginning as well. Things to consider are the number and locations of wireless access points. You’ll likely also need to have lines hardwired for these access points. Frequently they are ceiling mounted, so you’ll need to make sure cabling is accessible in the ceiling if that is the case.
To make sure you have adequate coverage IT can do what’s called a heat map. This is essentially a visual representation of the signal each wireless access point gives out overlaid on a map of your office space. It allows you to have a solid estimate of where you will need to place access points and the coverage you should expect to get.
Server Room Setup
There are also a few things to consider when setting up your server room or network closet. You should have a door that locks, or some kind of access control.
Cooling is a consideration for server rooms. If you will be housing any amount of servers, you’ll find they put out quite a bit of head. Without adequate cooling and ventilation, it can cause you servers to go offline or even suffer damage. It may require a separate wall mounted AC unit to maintain proper temperature in your server room.
Power is another consideration. Some server configurations and UPS will be require a 20 or 30 amp circuit. Before you move in it make sense to check your space and ensure that the power that exists in the room meets your needs. If not, have an electrician add the circuit you need.
Racks are another thing that should be included in this discussion. A typical server rack will house patch panels, switches, firewalls, servers, UPS, and some peripherals. You can get a two or a 4-post rack. If you are going to have any full size servers, we recommend a 4-post rack. If you have a smaller office with less equipment, a 2-post rack may be fine. Small branch office may only require a half or a quarter sized rack to house their equipment. Plan for everything that will be in the space initially and some room to grow.
As you can see, setting up a new office requires a lot of planning from your IT team. Engage them early and often throughout the process to make your move into your new office as smooth as possible.
If you have questions about your new office set up, or just want a quick consult, give us a call. Our team at i.t.NOW has helped countless businesses set up their offices and get up and running in a new space.