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Insurance Industry News from ProgramBusiness.comNew Levels of Office Design
UPAC Insurance Premium Finance (UPAC®) announced the completion of their new home office facilities… and what a facility it is! As you approach their building from the outside, the visitor is given no clue as to what lies ahead. The structure itself is not unlike the millions of single story, multi-tenant office buildings located in office parks across the country. But that is where the similarity ends. What comes next is an innovative transformation of an existing office park “white-box” space that challenges the limits of workplace design.
After months of design, planning, preparation, and living with and running their business during the various phases of construction, what they have come up with is truly amazing. Their new high-tech, ergonomically designed, open communication facility speaks volumes about a company culture of Old-Fashioned Service with Leading-Edge Technology and whose primary focus is on their clients and their associates.
“The design process began with an extensive exploration and discovery process that involved a number of our associates. This was done to ensure that no stone was left unturned as we addressed the needs of our clients and brought new focus to our company values. Armed with a vision of the future where “people are interacting for a common purpose”, we left hierarchy behind and discarded the typical concepts of the 1950’s ”offices with a desk” and the ”cubicles” that were so popular in the 1980’s,” said Kurt Huffman, UPAC’s President and CEO. “The project, which began in 2003, involved many interesting conversations with designers, vendors and others who said "no" or "we can't do that" or "nobody does that" or presented other ”challenges” to our way of thinking. We eventually got them to think and see outside their box… and the end result is that our new space takes interior workplace design to a new level. For example, we couldn’t find a vending company to provide healthy snacks so we just removed the vending machines and now I make a trip each week to stock the pantry with healthy foods that are available to all associates.”
As you enter UPAC’s new space, you are immediately struck by the openness and the park-like atriums complete with flora, fauna and skylights. There are windows everywhere, walls nowhere, multiple ceiling levels, vivid colors, the absence of background noise, custom work areas and more. However, there is something so different about the design and it takes a couple of moments before you can put your finger on it – there are NO offices. All associates have identical executive work areas. And what is even more astounding is their commitment to empowerment and open communication. You will find no designated departmental areas or specialized seating arrangements. On the contrary, the seating is generally random and open communication among the associates is practiced and encouraged like you would expect in a neighborhood with streets, pathways and parks. There is a feeling of togetherness and yet, privacy and focus at the same time.
As you explore each of the “pathways” that lead you from one space to the next, you discover innovation after innovation. There are free-flow workstations complete with fully adjustable work surfaces that allow you to sit or stand and even work on your own personal marker board… special lighting systems that aid in your ability to view your computer’s multiple flat screens… hidden wiring… chairs with more adjustments than a radio dial and the list goes on.
One path leads to a high tech kitchen and common area (known as “gathering spaces”) complete with state of the art appliances, a 48’ “butcher-block” style “table for 20” lunch / serving counter, café style tables and seating with adjustable soft lighting to accommodate a quick meeting with an associate, coffee with a vendor or a mid-day meal. Closer inspection reveals a pantry, refrigerators and even a freezer…<Click for the whole story...