By Linda K. Monroe
It's surprising how an individual (such as myself) can write convincingly about the role of facilities professionals in creating an "optimal work environment" and not really "get it" until the subject hits him or her (or me) in a directly personal way.
You see, my creative colleagues and I recently located to new, off-site digs - with somewhat biased expectations and totally unpredictable reactions.
When we learned that the employee count had outnumbered the workspaces in our corporate headquarters, we embraced the idea of forging fresh "ground" - literally - in a vacated, lofty structure in the heart of downtown. The suggestion of becoming Uptown Girls (and Guys) was heartening; we're a collaborative - and somewhat noisy - group, and the thought that we could recreate our day-to-day setting in a less-disruptive and more-private location was extremely appealing.
Once the lease was signed, our company fast-tracked the "rejuvenation" of our new space to mimic the headquarters' corporate colors and high-end materials; the IT department pursued the equally arduous task of mirroring our server arrangement and providing connectivity via a building-to-building wireless infrastructure. Most of us went from private offices to smaller, open-plan spaces (which caused most of our pre-move anxiety). And, the actual relocation was scheduled in the midst of the holiday season (and our publishing deadlines). We organized and downsized, worked overtime so the printer closing date would still be met, and quickly became peevish, suspicious, and skeptical - but hopeful, most of all.
Thirty days later, we find that our daily work experience is now mostly rewarding (and just a tad bit challenging). Remarkably, the move from private to open spaces quickly became a non-issue; collaboration and privacy are still quite intact (although more square footage relegated to each person would be ideal). With only a few early blips, our IT service has proven to be exceptional (and, in our minds, even superior to HQ's). The space itself has a unique personality and ambience that we've come to embrace.
Now, if only the HVAC and lighting systems were optimal, and the restroom a bit more pleasant (unfortunately, the creative staff knows a bit too much about the possibilities, based upon your successes, Buildings readers), work life would be close to perfect.