A work space may not seem that significant–until that space changes. On March 29, the Baptist Technology Services (BTS) Help Desk team held an open house in the corporate building to showcase its new space. While some may scratch their heads at the significance of moving a few walls and cubes around, the result no doubt reaches far beyond the physical space.
Beginning five years ago, the team grew in size. “We added more space and people. But, the area was dark, unfriendly and not conducive to collaboration,” said Vicki Harden-Balash, director of customer support.
Organized originally like a grocery store with close, long narrow aisles, the area divided people and held no open visibility. More importantly, even though team members may have been just feet apart, they felt isolated and little motivation to get to know their neighbor. When calls came in, a team member didn’t have time to walk the maze of cubes to discuss a technical problem or brainstorm.
“We sat back-to-back before in these rows, and while I could hear another person’s conversation, I had to get up and walk up and down rows to find someone. Tim did a lot of walking,” says LaToya Pittman, who troubleshoots clinical and EPIC problems with customers. Now, LaToya can simply turn in her chair and see the entire room, easily catching someone’s attention if she needs help.
Being just as resourceful in its design as in its daily help, the BTS team re-engineered the space using existing panels and stock. All internal walls came down and team members were placed along the perimeter of the room. Long tables now fill the center space, where team members can now gather to eat lunch or hold their new Friday potlucks. The bullpen design isn’t new to the tech folks. “In 1997, we had something similar, but there were only five of us!” says Tim Bradshaw, BTS Help Desk manager. With 26 Help Desk team members today who work varied shifts (yes, even nights and weekends) to service the entire Baptist system, the space needed help. “It truly was hard to get to know your neighbor,” added Tim.
The new design has greatly influenced quality and efficiency. “When we started our KATA in April 2016, we had call wait times averaging five minutes. Now, we’re down to just seconds,” said Vicki. Knowing change doesn’t come easy to everyone, the project unfolded in phases. “For about six to eight weeks, we played domino chairs around here. While initially some were worried about the open space being distracting or loud, everyone agrees that’s not the case. Everybody loves it,” she said.
More importantly, relationships are growing, and a new enthusiasm has taken hold. “I really didn’t know some of these folks. Now, I can see them, and if I have a problem I can quickly glance around to see who is available. Also, we’re now eating lunch together and getting to know each other,” said LaToya.
When work time consumes so much of our lives, working in a space that not only makes the Baptist business better, but enriches individuals, can only be seen as problems conquered.