Creating a worker-friendly call center was a priority – and a challenge – for Time Warner’s Open Space Call Center. Time Warner Cable consolidated its telecommunication operation from separate locations into one office at their Albany, N.Y. headquarters. Customer service and sales representatives (CSSRs) needed to concentrate on each phone call. They were concerned about the move from familiar, decentralized quarters to a single, wide-open room with busy office traffic and a distracting noise level.
The architects behind the new space, C.T. Male Associates, wanted to create a call center that was both welcoming and efficient.
Containing the noise level was a priority in the renovation. “When Time Warner Cable retained us to develop a renovation plan, they had a number of requirements for improving their CSSR call center,” said Rosemarie Carangelo, project architect, “but number one among them was to reduce the noise level.” The new space was an open 30′ x 50′ room, with four rows of ten workstations separated by only 42″ high partitions.
“We are moving employees from a variety of environments into a single location that seemed smaller than their current locations,” explained Jeff king, Time Warner’s Albany Division President. “It became easy to ‘sell’ our employees on the new facility once they were able to see we were using new and specialized materials and were working to develop an environment that would be comfortable as well as productive.”
The solution included installing Sonex® Contour Ceiling Tiles directly above the CSSR cubicles. This installation dropped the ceiling from 10’6″ to 9′. The reduced height of the ceiling helped to create a feeling of intimacy at each workstation. Additionally, it also helped control noise in the large, open room.
Sonex® Contour Ceiling Tiles have an excellent NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) rating of 1.0. They’re available in 10 different patterns and 4 colors. Also, mixing and matching the tiles can create a myriad of patterns.
“When developing a work space for people, it is important to consider the psychology, as well as the mechanics of their work,” explained Carangelo. “I interviewed and observed a number of CSSRs for this project and I literally put myself in their place. There you are on the phone working with a customer. What do you do? You lean back in your chair, tip your head upward and look for a visual diversion as your mind races through all of the responses you’ve been taught for resolving customer concerns.”
Carangelo had specified an acoustical ceiling over the cubicles. However, finding tiles that provided visual interest was more difficult than she anticipated.
“Ceilings tend to be flat, white and thicker when trying to achieve a higher NRC (Noise Reduction Co- Efficient),” she said. “The design required relief as well as performance.”
Using the variety of designs Sonex® Contour Ceiling Tiles offered, Carangelo put together three different patterns. A tile by tile pattern was crated using patterns called Panorama, Vision, and Basix. “The pattern I created with these tiles is complex, but it is open and non-obtrusive, too. I wanted the ceiling to be interesting, not distracting. The mix of basic and patterned tiles makes it easy on the eyes.”
The employees were pleased with the new space. “I never would have believed you could make a 30′ by 50′ room feel like anything but an airplane hangar,” said Mary Beth Bobitt, manager of the call center.
“Because of the close attention paid to things that we all take for granted, the room was successfully transformed into a very warm and comfortable, yet professional place to work.”