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The Simply Smarter Office

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A Happily Never Ending Story


Simply Smarter Office (A Happy Never Ending Story)

This version of the wordmark can only be used at this size. It has a larger registration


Simply Smarter Office (A Happy Never Ending Story)

This version of the wordmark can only be used at this size. It has a larger registration


4-3-2-1

The journey begins Five years ago, Plantronics in the UK set out to reduce its real estate portfolio from four buildings to one. The project was simply called “4-3-2-1”, and its only stated objectives were to “save the company some money” and “get everybody into the same building”. Initially the board of directors was highly sceptical and said it couldn’t be done. But in mid-April 2011, the last few employees were moved into Plantronics’ only remaining UK building, at Wootton Bassett, and the transformation was complete. The physical journey from four offices to one has run in parallel with a wider intellectual debate, across industry, about how to drive the greatest value from resources and people. How do you improve productivity? Does flexible working work? What technology is needed? Where, how and when do people actually do their work these days anyway? And for Plantronics – whose headsets are fundamental productivity tools – the quest to drive efficiencies from its office space has also frequently helped inspire innovations in its products... and that’s then helped stimulate yet further workplace advances… and even more product ideas… The result has been a revolution in Plantronics’ technology that is intrinsically linked to a much deeper understanding of how people work most effectively, which is demonstrated by Plantronics’ Simply Smarter Office at Wootton Bassett.

Reduced Real Estate Investment At Plantronics’ Swindon site, three buildings were rationalised into one, cutting floor space from 47,440 sq ft to 21,154 sq ft. As well as a much reduced carbon footprint, the heat recovery system is 45% more fuel efficient.

The Simply Smarter Office


Foundations of The Simply Smarter Office Accommodating your employees in the most efficient way calls for a new way of thinking about their needs: • Bricks – what physical spaces do you actually need to support business activities? • Bytes – what tools can you provide that promote greater productivity? • Behaviour – how can your people make the most of their resources? Even with all the benefits of modern, flexible working, the office is still the best place for tasks such as idea-generation, consensus-building, decision-making and learning. It’s part of how your business defines itself, and also where your workforce looks to for its sense of identity. The Simply Smarter Office has the ideal blend of bricks, bytes and behaviour for your business, minimising costs, while ensuring employees can still:

concentrate

Quiet, private, enclosed spaces to concentrate on focused, individual work tasks.

collaborate

Meeting areas to collaborate with other people – brainstorming, discussing, presenting and developing ideas.

contemplate

Comfortable inspiring places to contemplate and re-energise.

communicate

Fixed or flexible desk spaces to communicate in different ways – mixing face-to-face and virtual collaboration.

By providing innovative working spaces and the right technology, any business can evolve towards Simply Smarter working.

The Simply Smarter Office

The Right Combination of Workspaces The process of determining how much office space should be dedicated to each of the four activities of communication, collaboration, concentration and contemplation was spread over many months. Regular surveys of desk space and occupancy were conducted for all job roles, with HR and team managers consulted for final agreement on what resources were required. Different acoustic zones were defined. Within those, team areas were set-up, with fixed desks for employees who are in the office for three days or more, and flexi-desks and work benches provided for everyone else. Numerous flexible meeting spaces and rooms were also created for collaborative activities, and completely private monk cells installed in quiet areas to aid concentration. A special area was defined for the Plantronics audio engineering team, who have rather different requirements to the business teams. They needed fixed desks, labs, and completely silent chamber spaces for product testing. The nature of their work also creates unique requirements, such as being able to view each others’ monitor screens, for example, and so their chairs are arranged back-to-back.

The Simply Smarter Office


The ABC of acoustic shielding The average human voice will travel for 12 feet and, if it hits a hard surface, will simply bounce back. So, for the mainly open-plan office design to work, the different zones had to be protected from one another. Acoustic shielding can substantially reduce background noise and help create multiple optimal working environments in close proximity to each other. Absorption – using specialised products to absorb background chatter. Blocking – deploying vertical sound barriers to create different zones. Cover – playing computer-generated audio to mask unwanted noise. Acoustic absorption techniques were used extensively to reduce noise. Busy zones, such as the sales team areas, were heavily masked with ceiling tiles so that approximately 95% of their noise is suppressed. Furniture with raised backs and special upholstery was also used, along with acoustic wall panels that reduce reverberation and reflection. In larger open-plan areas, distracting office sounds have been masked by an even, carefully tuned background noise. Although it actually raises office volume levels, it does so in an unobtrusive way. Acoustic pods – pre-fabricated meeting rooms with strong absorption – have also been deployed.

The Simply Smarter Office

The Simply Smarter Office


A Bright Outlook It may be too early to draw any final conclusions, but since moving into their Simply Smarter Office, Plantronics’ employees’ behaviour has adapted extremely well.

People are much easier to reach in the wide open space. They chat to each other more willingly, no longer isolated behind office walls. Flexible workers appear to prefer work benches to flexi-desks. Everybody looks much happier. There is much more natural daylight too. The open-plan layout has few walls, and meeting rooms have been positioned in the corners of the building. Semi-transparent curtains have been used instead of walls for some meeting spaces, offering a better mix of privacy and light distribution. And, when it gets dark outside, the sense of brightness and space is maintained with natural daylight bulbs. As well as being energy-saving, they are powered by a smart lighting system that can detect movement, ensuring that empty office areas don’t waste energy. There is also a brand new IT server room and data facility on-site, providing wireless Internet access, mobile telephony and unified communications services throughout the office. The design of every area was driven by the needs and working habits of end users. Ultimately, Plantronics’ focus is on employees’ overall productivity, rather than the hours or place they work.

The Simply Smarter Office

The Simply Smarter Office


An Even Brighter Future The future of the Simply Smarter Office is – happily – a never ending story. As technology continues its relentless march forwards, so too do the ways that people wish to use it. And, in the meantime, business goals are also changing and office spaces must reflect that. “Seven Syndrome” is how the Plantronics Facilities Team refers to the agenda for change requests: • After seven days, people provide a snagging list of minor fixes. • After seven weeks, real changes are requested, such as extra desks. • After seven months, demands for alterations to the building’s fabric start to arrive. So the new Wootton Bassett office space is happily considered an ongoing project rather than the finished article. Already, Plantronics are looking at the potential to install solar power system which, after an initial investment, should provide free, clean power for 20-25 years.

The Simply Smarter Office

Sustainability and Savings As well as creating an improved environment that supports greater productivity, the Simply Smarter Office is expected to deliver substantial bottom line savings. During the refurbishment of the Plantronics office, which was created from a former warehouse, as much as possible of the existing fixtures were re-used. From electrical wiring to plumbing installations, and timber to other building materials, everything was utilised that could be. Plantronics has always recycled, the new office has facilities on site for cardboard crushing, paper and oil disposal, and will soon also have a wormery for food waste. Everything possible is recycled except for general waste… which the chosen disposal contractors manage anyway. The all new Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system features a heat recovery system that’s estimated to be 45% more efficient. A traditional system for a building of this size might comprise 15 condenser units, each creating local climates and competing against each other. At Plantronics, just two units are required to move heat around the building, with smart sensors detecting which areas have the greatest need. The Simply Smarter Office


This version of the wordmark can only be used at this size. It has a larger registration mark than the other size wordmarks. Please use one of the other sizes if you need © 2011 Plantronics, Inc. Tous droits réservés. Plantronics, son logo, EncorePro, IP40, Savi, SoundGuard, VistaPlus et Sound Innovation sont des marques a larger version. commerciales ou des marques déposées de Plantronics, Inc. Toutes les autres marques sont la propriété de leur détenteur respectif.


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