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It seems customary that with the start of a new year, we look back on the last 365 days.  What did we do, what did we accomplish, what would we do differently in the next 365 days.  2014 turned out to be a very big year, full of a lot of changes for us here at Azose Commercial Properties.  We had staff changes.  We saw the market get busier and busier here in the Puget Sound region.  We had a name change, thus becoming Azose Commercial. Lastly, we moved offices.

Though the name change was a big one and took a lot of work and effort, I think the move had the most impact on each individual employee of our company.  We moved from Bellevue to Mercer Island which was an obvious change but the most noticeable change was on the inside of the office.  With new offices came a new layout and new work stations.  In our previous office we had tall walls and we were in a space that was long and narrow.  You had to walk the hallway to see if co-workers were in the office.  I, myself, was in an interior cube so if I wanted to see what the weather was, I needed to leave my desk to get a look outside and even then I needed to go to the copy to really be able to see outside.  The cube walls were too tall to get a good look.  On top of them being extremely tall, they were old.  The cubes were outdated and had definitely seen better days.

The move was a great opportunity to make a fresh start all the way around.  We got new work stations, added some additional small conference rooms, and shrunk down the private offices so they weren’t quite so enormous.  Since we were purchasing new cubes, we decided to take the opportunity to go more with the current trend of lower walls, more open plan.  At a previous job I had gone through the transition of tall walls to lower walls so I knew there would be a lot of grumbling and unhappy employees.  We had all survived there and so I was confident that we would all survive here as well.

We decided to ease everyone into the change by doing an office tour.  We would have the employees come to the new office prior to moving in so they could familiarize themselves with the drive, the location and the new space.  I can say with certainty they enjoyed the Starbucks coffee, muffins and various other snacks that we put out.  I cannot say with certainty that everyone was thrilled.  Not only were we moving, we were going into a completely different office dynamic.  There was no longer “privacy”, not just from your boss but also from your co-worker.  When you stand at the front of the office, you can see all but 8 employee’s work stations.  On top of that, some of the employees were going from personal cubes, to shared work stations.  There was quite a bit of talk around the water cooler after that visit.  After talking to the employees more about the cubes and the reality of what they were going into they got a little more on board.

The common misconception with cubes is that the taller the walls, the more privacy you have.  Though that may be true as it comes to visual privacy and people not being able to see your screen, it is not true with noise.  Yes, some sound is absorbed in the cube walls but people seems be under the impression that a tall wall means you are in a private office.  Due to this misconception, people talk a lot louder and with a lot less discretion in those situations.  It’s amazing sometimes to sit at desk or walk a hall and hear some of things people are discussing, thinking that no one can hear them.  You will hear about peoples finances, relationships and health issues that are all topics that they probably didn’t want everyone in a ten cube radius of them hearing.  Shorter walls makes people more aware of their surrounds and that you are not alone and you need to be more discreet because of it.

With this idea in mind the employees were a little more understanding of the new layout and lower walls.  We eventually made the move to the new office and I am happy to report that, even though it took a little getting used to, people actually enjoy the new office layout.  It feels move spacious, even though we were able to go into small space, there is a lot more natural light, which lets face it, makes everyone a little happier, especially on a sunny day in the Northwest and it’s always nice to be in new, fresh furniture and design.  The sliding barn style doors on all the private spaces is a favorite of employees and customers alike.  It’s a nice change to a more updated and current look which goes well with the new company name and logo.

I think in 2015 we won’t shock everyone’s system with any major changes again.  2014 had enough to hold people over for awhile.