In recent years, we’ve shifted usage of the word “work” from a noun (as in some place you go) to a verb (as in something you do). These days, technology empowers people to remain productive regardless of location.
Work styles have changed too. State and local governments are focused on forging a culture of collaboration that is key to attracting and retaining top talent. Millennials in particular are natural collaborators, and research from Polycom finds that 78 percent say having access to the technology they prefer makes them more productive.
Consider the broad array of tools we rely upon to collaborate: audio, video, web conferencing and telepresence; instant messaging; social media platforms; document and file sharing; digital displays; interactive whiteboards; and more.
No longer does collaboration occur only in traditional meeting rooms outfitted with imposingly large tables, seating for a crowd and high-end audio-visual equipment.
Today’s workgroups gravitate toward open spaces and informal areas that may include comfortable sofas and armchairs, high-top tables with barstools, and even Bosu balls or beanbag chairs. These new settings bear little resemblance to standard meeting rooms.
Building a Dedicated Space to Huddle Up
Wainhouse Research refers to spaces that accommodate six or fewer attendees as huddle rooms and estimates that there are somewhere between 30 million and 50 million of these spaces around the world. However, most lack support for collaborative technologies.
That’s not the case in Maricopa County, Ariz., where the IT department practices what it preaches by removing the technical and physical boundaries to collaboration.
“We’re creating an environment conducive to attracting the best and the brightest by providing the tools and workspaces that let them be successful,” says CIO David Stevens.
Maricopa County has rolled out Avaya collaboration tools and other products to enable integrated Voice over IP, video conferencing, instant messaging and data sharing from conference rooms, desktops and mobile devices. What’s more, the newly remodeled IT facilities boast glass walls, open areas and movable furniture.
“We’re seeing a spontaneity that wasn’t there before,” Stevens says of the changes. To learn more about the deployment and discover how other public-sector agencies marry collaborative technologies with open workspaces, see “Collaboration Technology Fuels Innovation for States and Localities."