What College Campuses are Teaching Office Designers

What College Campuses are Teaching Office Designers

Remember those carefree college days, hanging out in the stairwells, meeting on the quad, studying in the library, the cafeteria, the student lounge, wherever? Then you began your career and all that spatial freedom was suddenly gone, and you had to be in one place. At one desk. All day. Every day. Five days a week. It was a tough transition.

And now that newly-graduated millennials are driving the hiring market, campus-style spatial freedom is being incorporated into offices designed to attract the recent graduates. NCR’s new Atlanta headquarters is one example; it touts its “technology and tools to support the changing nature of how, when and where work is done.” Located adjacent to the Georgia Tech campus, NCR hopes to use the headquarters’ college-like environment to capture the brightest and best new graduates, with such familiar features as dining options, coffee bar, gym, informal spaces, and a large lecture hall.

Formaspace discusses how office designers and facilities managers can learn a few lessons from college campuses, including:

  1. Natural light and outdoor work areas – Large windows and park-like campuses are features of colleges that enhance mental health and performance; businesses too can benefit.
  2. “Work neighborhoods” – Colleges offer a range of options, from lounge chairs to lab workbenches to library carrels to coffeehouse tables; these can be emulated within corporate settings.
  3. Serendipity – College campuses provide countless opportunities to run into people who share common interests; offices with casual collaboration areas can profit from the synergy of serendipity.
  4. Quiet zones – College libraries are famous for their inviolable quiet; the notoriously loud open office plan should incorporate quiet spaces for focused tasks.

We would add a fifth lesson: Flexible space utilization. Colleges have perfected the concept of flex spaces that are a classroom one day, a lab the next day, and a meeting room the day after that. As businesses start to incorporate collegiate design into the workplace, the ability to experiment with space utilization is essential; what may have worked as a lounge now needs to be a quiet area, or vice versa.

Adaptive furniture and modular cabinetry make this kind of flexibility possibility. For example, adaptive-furnishings manufacturer Swiftspace offers desks that combine into semi-private “huddle spaces” or change into extended tables or workbenches.

Empowering staff to adapt the workspace as needed is another holdover from college days, and it’s one more feature that can attract sought-after millennial employees. No hiring manager wants to hear this quote, reported by design researchers speaking to a newly-hired graduate: “The thing that keeps me up at night is going to sit in my cubicle farm on Monday.”

Of course not every business workstyle can incorporate college campus features into the workplace. But for those in a competitive hiring market, a collegiate environment could be the perfect recruitment tool. Consult with your design professional about bringing some college spirit to your offices.

 

Photo © elnariz / Adobe Stock

Document Conversion and the Data Collection Bottleneck

Document Conversion and the Data Collection Bottleneck

We all got the memo about the value of big data. Digital consolidation makes an organization’s masses of information more useful, and more available, than having silos of electronic files and archived paper documents. Big data promises to let you find all the documents related to a legal case with one click on your keyboard, or compare patient outcomes with one query, or determine exactly why a product is selling well in Peoria – fast, easy answers that make our businesses more productive and more profitable.

The promise is proving to be true in many ways. However, the raw data often arrives via multiple channels ranging from paper documents to emails to websites. The quantity of data trying to enter the data capture funnel is threatening to overwhelm the people who have the task of inputting and harnessing the data.

Without input automation, data capture is very labor intensive. One example: The New York Times reports that physicians are spending more than 50% of their time entering data into electronic medical records (EMR’s). There’s no question that EMR’s are a vital part of healthcare management. Nevertheless, data entry is not the most productive use of doctors’ time.

John Mancini, president and CEO of the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) recommends automating as much of the data input as possible, using intelligent technology that can handle data from any source, in any format. He lists the five steps to streamlining the movement of data from its origin through to the knowledge workers downstream.

  1. Ingestion – be prepared for data arriving from many sources
  2. Extraction – use multiple extraction techniques to get the greatest amount of data
  3. Classification – identify the type of data and direct it toward the end users
  4. Validation – check the data against standards and/or other validated data
  5. Connection – make the data accessible to the systems and knowledge workers who need it to make the business run better

Document conversion is a big part of data capture. When data exists only on paper, it is isolated from the big-data system. It is invisible to end users who don’t know it exists. As an informational asset, it has very little value.

But once a document is ingested and converted into a digital format, intelligent data can be extracted from it. It suddenly gains value, as knowledge workers apply the data in making better business decisions. It becomes a true business asset.

A properly planned and executed document conversion project automates much of the ingestion process, eliminating the labor-intensive bottleneck that so often stymies organizations’ efforts to reap the benefits of big data. Bottlenecks are bad enough on city streets; why have them in your business?

 

Photo © lupolucis / AdobeStock