Decoding Design

Plantronics smartens up its headquarters for remote workers

Plantronics smartens up its headquarters for remote workers

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Designing an office with telecommuting and virtual collaboration in mind can lead to a more productive workforce, while cutting down on office expenses and commuting-related carbon emissions.

Eight point six percent of the American workforce is out of work. And many of those with a steady job are worried it could disappear tomorrow. This anxiety leads to irrational thoughts. Case in point: those with the option to telecommute will sometimes decide against it, thinking that making their presence known inside an office will somehow prevent the pink slip.

But it doesn't work that way. In fact, if you've been laid off recently it's probably not because you worked from home once or twice and your boss just, whoops, forgot all about you. It's probably because the economy has been in the toilet.

Which is all the more reason for companies to get creative about how they can save money on office space while at the same time boost the productivity of the employees its been able to retain through the downturn. That's where smarter offices come into play.

According to Fast Co., handset manufacturer Plantronics recently revamped its headquarters so that it can only accommodate about 75 percent of its employees. Why? Because it knows that flexible working environments breed productivity. While many companies allow employees to telecommute, Plantronic expects it and even encourages it as long as it means its employees are able to get their jobs done.

The new building is flush with large monitors that are used to video conference with remote employees, thereby killing the reason many telecommuters find themselves having to go to their offices more often than they'd like.

But it's not all about employee benefits. Office space is expensive, and underutilized spaces are a total waste in an age of efficiency and belt-tightening. And then there's the sizable environmental benefits. The Telework Research Network estimates that if U.S. employees with compatible jobs and a desire to work from home did so half the time, the nation could cut its Persian Gulf imports by 47 percent. The greenhouse gas impact would be equivalent to taking the entire New York State workforce off the road.

And the fact is, many telecommuters spend more time working at home (or wherever outside the office works for them) than they do at an office, where distractions abound. So designing an office for telecommuting and virtual collaboration can lead to more productivity just through the sheer increase in time that employees can devote to the task of getting stuff done. As opposed to spending time sitting in traffic.

Via: Fast Co. Exist

Image: Plantronics

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Mary Catherine O'Connor

Contributing Writer

Mary Catherine O'Connor has written for Outside, Fast Company, Wired.com, Smithsonian.com, Entrepreneur, Earth2Tech.com, Earth Island Journal and The Magazine. She is based in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure