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Charlie Duff

Sift Media

Editor, HRzone.co.uk

Read more about Charlie Duff

Work smarter: Welcome to the office of the future

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You probably didn’t think the office of the future would be in Wootton Bassett, but one tech company have made themselves a workspace that would leave Marty McFly in a spin…
 

Plantronics have all the gadgets. They make headsets and other work-related electronics which turn workplaces into mobile work-anywhere spaces, and help mobile workers stay in touch.

Seeking to practice what they preach (or at least, sell,) the company has introduced flexible working for all staff and  remodelled the environment to meet their expectations and improve the workplace.

 The Plantronics office is visited by employees from all over Europe and the vision is that anyone who works for the company is welcome. So it’s out with fixed places and in with hot-desking, except for a few individuals who are in the office five days a week. 

The office desk space is dominated by two large tables with high chairs, under which lockers are situated for any belongings which may be necessary. Laptops, earpieces and softphones are the order of the day and the employees can work from anywhere in the office – from the canteen or chill out space on the ground floor, to reception, to the ‘monk’s holes’ – the concentration zones.

The office has been divided into four zones – communication, collaboration, conversation and concentration. Informal meeting spaces are everywhere: high backed sofas, an area with light curtains and colourful seating which can be split into four, a park bench near the coffee machine. For other meetings there are the soundproof but see-through pods, glass fronted meeting spaces and one quite private office for HR to operate from if necessary.

The furniture and décor has all been designed with sound – or the lack of it – in mind. Soft furnishings and wall panels dampen sound from the constantly-in-calls sales and marketing teams, and controllable white noise ensures fewer interruptions from background noise. It still looks like an office though, and compared to some (ebay, Google, etc), it’s a conservative approach. But that’s the beauty of it – the point is to design the space for the company, not reorganise the company to fit the space.

We spoke to the HR director EMEA, Norma Pearce about how they did it. See some more photos and hear her top tips for implementing a change like this in the video below.
 

Highlights of the smarter office:

  • Airlock-like pods which enable some background noise to be heard inside, but no sound from inside the pod gets out.
  • Monk holes – concentration zones where individuals can go for up to an hour (timed by hour glasses outside) to really knuckle down to a task (see them in the background on the video)
  • The pond – break out space with a computer console, water feature, deck chairs and a pool table. Still under construction but a great place to think and take a break.
     
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Charlie Duff

Editor, HRzone.co.uk

Read more from Charlie Duff
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