In an industry plagued by churn, Bell ExpressVu Canada’s call center facility in Toronto has no problem with employee retention–and for good reason. Its leadership understands how critical a stimulating, pleasing work environment is to teamwork, health and safety, effective work processes, productivity, and overall employee satisfaction.
“The role of our Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) is not an easy one,” says Mark Knapton, formerly Bell ExpressVu’s vice president of Call Center Sales and Customer Services. “It’s a job largely tied to one workstation for eight hours a day. We wanted people to feel proud of their workspace. Each station needed to adjust easily to the individual needs of many users. Natural light was important. Employees needed access to fellow team members for troubleshooting as well as the visual stimulation of seeing what’s happening around their work areas. Overall, we wanted the new space to make people feel a part of something special.”
In 2002, Bell ExpressVu was moving into a nondescript open space with four-foot window and cement columns along the perimeter. “It looked like a parking lot,” says Mary Whittall, account representative with Herman Miller Workplace Resources–Toronto. The interior had to hold as many workstations as possible without feeling cramped, and it had to be very easy to move and change.
Julian Jacobs Architects, the design firm, created a curving, dogbone-shaped interior space around a “Walk in the Park” theme that consolidates the building’s functional elements in its core and clusters the Resolve workstations around the perimeter. Curved lines, lots of greenery, trellises, concrete stained to look like an old villa, and work groups in small clusters with open sight lines help bring excitement and a human scale to this traditional facility.
Resolve’s translucent screens carry natural light from perimeter windows to the building interior, while the system’s 120-degree configuration reduced square footage per workstation by almost 30 percent (over 50 square feet per occupant), yet employees commented repeatedly on how spacious their new workstations felt. Resolve’s pole-and-truss cable system allowed the designers to open the ceiling for enhanced lighting and a greater sense of openness. Voice, data, and power cables delivered through drop feeds from the ceiling every 1000 feet helped avoid the expense of core drilling or a raised floor. This cable management system reduced IT costs about 10 percent, yet the system could still be reconfigured quickly and painlessly.
And the Resolve system encouraged collaboration and communication among team members, who interact frequently to troubleshoot, share information, or respond to challenges. Newer CSRs are placed near more experienced members, and everyone feels connected and part of a team.
© Herman Miller 2007, Zeeland, Michigan
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