Goodbye to the cube: A new working enviroment

For decades Intel employees have started and ended the day looking at the same gray/blue/brown (depending on your site) sound soak dividers. They provided solace and security, a place to get on with your work. They give you something to pin things to and space to hang your all important white board.

It's been the norm to start a ‘Meerkat' discussion with your neighbour, or throw foam balls to a team mate whilst a long call drags out. Cubes have been part of Intel's culture, as much as transistors and the bing bong.

This is about to change

I'm working on the IT side of a large project currently underway in the halls of several US sites. The project has one focus; challenge the way we currently work. Several organisation reports and visiting other companies have shown it's just not as effective for the employees we now have.

10 years ago people came in Monday to Friday; they worked in teams within the same geo or even exclusively on the same site. Teams or even whole groups sat near each other (from designers to manufacturers) they went to lunch together and all left for home around the same time.

This just isn't the case today. Intel's workforce, like many, is globally diverse. Your cube neighbour now manages a team out of the US that is working on a large project in Asia for delivery to a customer in Africa. These changes in workforce have had several impacts

People are not physically around as much: Technology at home has meant you can be as connected in the office as out of it. Wireless technology coupled with video and voice can mean employees can meet each other when cross over times allow.

When people are around they want to network, they want to use some flexible space to crunch a problem or perhaps hold private phone conversations

Private calls are not private any more, people want a smaller space they can make calls with remote managers

Because of these changes the pilots we are working on aims to re-enforce better facilitate those requirements. We are aiming to achieve this through several things

Smaller conference rooms designed for just one or two people. Enough space to sit and take calls, but not enough to be booked by teams. These meetings happen today but can hold up larger rooms making it harder for larger teams to meet

Deploying a more flexible IT environment allowing quick deployment and high demands. Mobile technology is something Intel IT has always focused on, here we are taking it a step further by using 100% wireless, even for desk areas (you can find out more about the primary wireless campus in our IT@Intel site) IT are also integrating phone services into the notebook to remove the need to have a desk phone. Those that specifically want to have a phone can also log into any handset.

Flexible, open zones to encourage quick white board problem solving, not so much about formally booking 60 mins of meeting time, just pulling around some chairs and working with the team around you

Free things like coffee and snacks are being introduced, again to encourage employees to come into the office.

At this stage employees can still choose to have a permanent desk, others have elected to be part of open zones, with no permanent home to call their own.

None of the things we are doing in these pilots haven't been tried and implemented by others - but this is the first time we are trying them with our employees; and as any good IT shop will tell you each customer group has its own requirements.

I will be posting updates as we see how the pilots develop.

'Flexible areas' with lots of seating and snack areas

Unassigned desks