A CLIENT SOLUTION A major wireless communications company saves nearly $1 million by blending Pathways products with existing systems furniture.
U.S. Cellular is a fast-growing provider of wireless communications that operates cellular systems nationwide. The company, headquartered in Chicago, participates in 145 U.S. markets and has a rapidly expanding customer base that today numbers 2.6 million subscribers.
PRIOR TO BUILDING THE CENTER, Knoxville personnel were housed at several
locations. The company needed to consolidate operations for greater efficiency through the sharing of resources and for improved interdepartmental communications. At the same time, U.S. Cellular had recently invested in a software system to provide better and more accurate information to customers and the associates who serve them. This required an investment in new equipment and in the way that equipment is connected. To complicate matters, corporate growth demanded flexible solutions that could easily, efficiently, and cost-effectively accommodate change.
Accommodating rapid growth and new technologies… In addition to rapid growth and the need to accommodate new technologies, there was an important additional factor that would dramatically affect the design of the facility. As a fail-safe measure, all utilities would have dedicated feeds. This meant twice the wires and cables found in similar applications. Then, there was the issue of cost… U.S. Cellular, a major Steelcase customer, had long ago standardized on the Avenir furniture system. To hear Jim Kelly, director of corporate real estate, tell it: “When the Knoxville project was first identified we notified Steelcase and our dealer — Office Equipment Company of Chicago — of the project, and of our goals and our budget. We had complicated electrical issues and a very tight furniture budget… we wanted to reuse our existing system, which we knew could not handle the cabling capacity of the newer technology.” At issue was how to support power and communications systems and still reuse the $1 million worth of Steelcase products installed in the Knoxville area. Jerry deLaurentis, facilities manager in Knoxville, explains the situation: “We had to run uninterruptible power as well as normal power into each workstation. Using Segment as a spine wall enabled us to do that.” ®
Multiple zones inside Segment walls separate data cables, phone, and the building’s two power systems, all of which are accessed from an easy-to-reach lower beltway. ®
Joe Riha, of Office Equipment Company of Chicago, remembers the sequence of events that eventually led to a solution: “Jim Kelly called me one day and said ‘here’s the situation, we’ve got to make it work.’ The Pathways Segment wall was just coming out, so we immediately introduced Jim to it.” Riha knew about the wiring and cabling capacity of Segment walls, and that the system was capable of accepting Avenir panels and components. He also knew that, without Segment, the entire project would be in jeopardy. “U.S. Cellular was planning to install a raised floor throughout the entire facility to handle the multiple feeds,” Riha says, “so they could have put the second electrical system under it, but the cost of connecting to individual workspaces would have been astronomical.” Jerry deLaurentis agrees: “Without the Segment wall system we were probably going to end up putting tombstone receptacles in every workstation to accommodate the uninterrupted power source. It would have been time consuming and expensive, and would have been very cumbersome every time we needed to reconfigure.”
The off-modularity of Segment creates areas that can be used for informal conferencing or for printers and other equipment.
“We had complicated electrical issues and a very tight furniture budget… we wanted to reuse our BLENDING AVENIR WITH SEGMENT HELPS… • • • •
Save money Support more technology Increase flexibility Prepare for the long term
New Segment wall Existing Avenir
Jim Kelly Manager, Corporate Properties U.S. Cellular
The final plan, to use Segment walls as center spine walls and run the existing Avenir panels off them, solved the problem of accommodating the dual electrical system; and the cabling capacity of Segment walls was more than enough to handle the needs of the new computer system. “For a wireless company we’re buried in an awful lot of cabling,” says Jim Kelly. “We have used the multiple zones in the Segment wall to put computer cabling, phone, electrical power, and the uninterrupted power source all in separate zones. This allows us to go into a specific zone to modify the wiring during moves and changes without interrupting or threatening the integrity of the other systems. By having lay-in capabilities in the Pathways panel we are able to reduce the cost of labor to wire a panel because it takes less time.” ®
“ Employee satisfaction with working
conditions jumped 34 percentage points
Allow you to place Avenir panels and components
after moving into our new facility and
anywhere along a Segment spine wall.
using Steelcase furniture.” Linda Baker Vice President, Customer Service U.S. Cellular
While solving the power and communications problem was a major hurdle to overcome, the marriage of Segment and Avenir provided other benefits to both the company and its employees. Segment’s off-module connections can easily accommodate changes in workstation configurations. This ability to increase and decrease workstation footprints provides added planning flexibility. According to Kelly, this capability has resulted in important economic benefits. “As a result of using larger panels we have used fewer panels and saved money.”
Segment walls, mounted with Intellume indirect lighting, create a high-capacity power and communications spine that interfaces with U.S. Cellular’s reused Avenir furniture. ™
“The furniture has contributed to an improvement in employee morale, and has enhanced the team atmosphere… working together is much easier.” Tina Brady Regional Manager, Human Resources U.S. Cellular
U.S. Cellular places a high premium on customer loyalty, and seeks to continuously create closer connections with the people who use its services. Their advertising slogan, The Way People Talk Around Here, underscores a strategic focus on meeting customer needs at the local level by providing dependable communications and easy access to local customer service personnel. The company’s MidSouth Communications Center and Network Operations in Knoxville is one of five regional communications hubs that provide round-the-clock service to local cellular customers. ™
The communications center gives customers 24-hour-aday access to service specialists, while Network Operations ensures uninterrupted service by constantly monitoring transmission signals throughout the network area. The trouble-free operation of the center is vital to the interests of the company and its customers.
The Segment walls also gave U.S. Cellular an opportunity to address the quality of lighting, which was a key employee concern. According to both Kelly and deLaurentis, the company has always been a strong believer in the use of indirect ambient uplighting. Call center areas are equipped with Intellume exclusively. “I saw Intellume in an installation in Gainesville,” Kelly says, “and was very impressed because of the evenness the lighting provides.” The results speak for themselves. According to Kelly, Intellume lighting has greatly reduced glare on computer screens, improved worker productivity, and has reduced the cost of electricity.
Part of U.S. Cellular’s plan to create a people-centered work environment was to provide cozy enclaves where employees can meet and interact informally.
The Knoxville facility, now fully operational, has met corporate efficiency, flexibility, and cost saving goals. It has also given employees an environment they can feel comfortable and at home in. This is no small measure of success for a company that places such a high premium on creating close, personal connections with its customers. It’s hard to satisfy someone else if you’re not satisfied yourself. That’s why Jerry deLaurentis can smile when he says, “employee morale has gone up tenfold since we’ve moved in.”
CREDITS U.S. Cellular Jack Rooney Linda Baker Doug Arnold Jim Kelly Jerry deLaurentis Tina Brady
President Vice President, Customer Service Vice President, Human Resources Director, Corporate Properties Regional Facilities Manager Regional Manager, Human Resources
Installing Dealer: Ivan Allen Company Eric Stamps Installation Manager Steelcase Inc. Lorraine Cummings
Selling Dealer: Office Equipment Company of Chicago Joe Riha Vice President Rebecca Phelan Senior Designer
For more information, call us at 1.800.333.9939, or visit www.steelcase.com.
S11223 4/00 © 2000 Steelcase Inc. All rights reserved.
Off-modularity also increased planning flexibility… an added benefit facilities manager deLaurentis wasn’t expecting. “I’m very impressed by the overall flexibility of these systems,” deLaurentis says, “we’re able to interchange, add, or take away different products to accommodate specific user needs.”
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A flexible, user-centered work environment…
Published on Jun 29, 2010