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If You Build It…

plantronicsA twirl around Plantronics’ new and improved offices

Plantronics, Santa Cruz’s largest commercial employer, is making changes to its world headquarters. The headset manufacturer unveiled the new improvements to its Encinal Street offices this week, updating its old workspace to keep up with the company’s evolving business philosophy.

Plantronics has maintained its headquarters in Santa Cruz since it first began in the garage of an airline pilot in 1961. Since then, the company has progressed right alongside American history. They were the first headset in outer space. Neil Armstrong spoke his famous words “That’s one small step for man, on giant leap for mankind” into a Plantronics headset. Today, they’re one of the most looked to manufacturers of Bluetooth headsets in the world. So it’s only logical that the company would need a modern space to reflect their modern clientele.

The updated workspace is sleek and shiny—a place anyone would be grateful to call “work.” The new space was designed to open up communication between employees in the hopes that better collaboration will lead to better products.

“The purpose of coming into a workspace is to collaborate,” says Pat Wadors, the senior vice president of Human Resources. “I’m hoping more people will want to sit and chill and talk and collaborate.”

With this in mind, the team responsible for the re-design lowered cubicle walls and created a number of “free spaces” unlike the conference rooms seen at most companies. You won’t find any oversized conference tables here; instead you’ll see brightly colored ergonomic chairs, plush couches made from sustainable materials, and walls and flooring designed to muffle sound.

“People end up helping each other more than they ever would because they can hear what’s going on and connect the dots,” says Wadors. “If people are just sitting in their own room, they’ll never know what dots to connect.”

The sprawling space is overwhelmingly white without being sterile—more like an Apple store than a hospital. Pieces of vibrantly-colored furniture, like a circular magenta couch breathe life into the white space.

But it’s the small details that really make the new workspace enticing. Chairs are equipped with swiveling table tops, making them appropriate for both righties and lefties. Desktops are adjustable, allowing employees to sit or stand, depending on their mood. Employees can stash their belongings in storage lockers, so they’re not tied to a desk and are free to move around the revamped space. Sections of the walls are actually whiteboards, letting employees jot down notes wherever an idea strikes them. People have already begun using the amenities; “This is hip!” and “I love this design” were scrawled on the boards around the office.

Wadors hopes that the new workspace will encourage Plantronics employees to spend more time at the office and inspire them to work together more creatively. The natural light, comfortable furniture and artistic installations are all designed to make employees feel comfortable enough to hang around the office, even if they don’t necessarily need to be there.

“It’s got to compete with Starbucks,” says Wadors. “I want people naturally drawn here.”

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