I regularly work at different locations, depending on the customer. I like to know my surroundings by exploring the buildings and finding short cuts to point B. As an external contractor, is this acceptable behaviour? I don't walk into random offices, just explore the corridors, stairways, grounds etc.
If you spend a lot of time at the respective customer, AND if your job involves some movement through he building, then it may be OK to "wander".
If not, your behavior might be seen as suspicious. Imagine a repairman finding optimal ways through your apartment. (If needed, imagine a big multi-room apartment, or even a big house.) Would you enjoy finding him everywhere?
As long as there is an obvious way between points A and B, and especially if other employees at that company use this obvious way, you should not explore anything.
It is perfectly fine to explore public places, streets, alleys, parks and forests (if they are available). Just make sure not to get lost, especially in forests :)
It depends on a few things, here's some points I've learned from working at dozens of sites.
- While you can go anywhere your badge allows, you shouldn't really wander around.
- Never tailgate through a door unless it's a place you are fully expected to be.
- If the company has a campus setting, exploring the grounds has never been a problem.
- If the company specifically uses an 'open' plan, walking around usually isn't a problem.
- You can almost always visit 'open' venues such as cafeterias in other buildings.
- You can take different routes to places you do need to be, like a meeting room.
- I have on occasion taken a "wrong turn" just to take a peek, but always with a nearby destination, like a meeting room.
- If you are friendly with an employee, you can ask them for a tour.
- Just ask of you can walk around. I was someplace last year where they were very proud of some recent renovations and was told, without asking, to check out the 7th and 9th floors because of the artwork.
The easiest way: Restrain your movement inside the building, explore outside.
The general (non-restricted) places like cafeteria, relaxing lounge, restrooms, gyms - you are free to visit, do not try to explore the work areas. Most of the restricted places are access-restricted usually, however, if you're not sure better not be involved.
The best way would be to ask one of your colleagues / point-of-contacts in the new office for the directions.
It sounds to me like you do this in order to improve your efficiency, and as such I don't believe it will be frowned upon.
The most important thing is just to ensure that you obtain permission & make it clear to whoever is in charge that you're planning to do some surveying of the surroundings when you get there, in order to move efficiently throughout the premises.
That way you'll be informed if there are any areas they'd prefer you not to access (i.e with meetings going on, sensitive info etc).
Make your manager aware of your intention to do so.
Hey boss, would it be okay if I did some exploring, I want to make sure I know where everyone and everything is?
And leave it at that. If they're fine with it, no problem, if not, back down. It really depends on the security policies of your client. Always check first.