By Brandon F., IT Manager
Efficient and flexible technology is essential to the workplace. Employees are no longer limited to phone calls and inter-office mail. Nor are these limited communication channels sufficient for today’s daily tasks. Technology such as video conferencing, social networks and virtual offices have allowed communication to transcend previous boundaries that limited business expansion and can improve communication, productivity, efficiency and mobility for the company and its employees.
Considerations such as these were crucial in determining what technology solutions we wanted in our new office. Business is about communication, and technology is a tool with which to communicate. Just like it’s crucial that our craft workers have the right tools in the field to construct buildings, it was important that we have the right technology tools in our new facility for the office staff to be successful.
The first place you might experience this is when you enter our lobby. Directly across from the main entrance is a 2 x 2 video display with four 49” flat screen tvs, giving you a large, bold welcome. This solution allows for a lot of flexibility in presented media, as we can use the display as one large screen, or display different messaging in each screen. It serves as a great tool to showcase our work to guests when they enter the facility.
A major design goal for the building was to facilitate spontaneous collaboration, and it was essential that the technology enhance that ability. Office space is equipped with several power and data ports to supply employees with ample sources. Additionally, each work space has an adjustable height work surface for employee enhancement. Each conference room and collaborative huddle room has writable surfaces or dry erase boards for collaborative brainstorming; a dedicated phone line for phone conferencing; cameras for video conferencing; internal wired and guest WiFi connections; and 55” – 80” flat screen tvs synced with Crestron media hardware to allow for several different inputs and device compatibility. In-table power and data ports provide easy access to everyone seated at the tables. The main conference room has a touchscreen iPad on the table so that anyone, from any chair, can easily and quickly control the room lighting, speaker volume, and video source. This increased flexibility and eliminated the clutter of having multiple remotes for the various technology. A wall mounted touch panel also controls the lights and has stored preset themes to allow for quick configurations of lighting depending on purpose of the room at that time.
The design of this building was largely focused on an open office concept. This new floorplan and fostering the collaborative culture with open huddle spaces, disruptive noise and sounds from neighbors were a concern. To remedy these interferences, we installed an adjustable level sound masking system broken into different zones and suspended acoustical ceiling tiles throughout the space to help reduce noise levels and reverberation.
A big addition to the company with the new building was the creation of an education center. Two 80” flat screen tvs are mounted to the front of the rooms with a glass dry erase board in between. A wall mounted touch panel and iPad controls everything in the room so there’s no remotes for the devices. Touch panel themes control the lighting and allow for quick configurations depending on purpose of the room at that time. A Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) camera is mounted in the back of the room to allow flexibility and crisp recording of speakers at the front podium. A 40” tv is mounted at the back of the room as well for the speaker’s convenience, so they can view what the audience is viewing without turning their back on the audience. Overhead speakers were integrated to amplify sound throughout the space. Both the side walls of the room have writable surfaces to accommodate spontaneous, collaborative brainstorming. All tables and chairs are on wheels for versatile layout configurations, as well as collapse and nest for easy storage. A dedicated technology closet houses the hardware and provides easy access for maintenance and expansion.
With all this technology at our fingertips, the last thing we wanted was to move in and found out wireless connectivity and cell phone signals are poor. To ensure full signal strength, a DAS (Distributed Antennae System) was installed. The antennae on the roof of the building distributes and amplifies cell phone signals within the building.