Wireless devices are giving birth to a new type of “open office” architecture in which there is a noticeable lack of walls, cubicles and filing cabinets. Employees are free to sit at any work table they choose, using their laptop computers and smart phones to accomplish their tasks. Since there are no walls to separate people, communication flows freely in this highly collaborative work environment. Network contractors who have “system integration” skills are poised for success in this growing market. It’s also important to understand end-user needs. In this article, WaveLengths Magazine interviewed Steve Hodgens of Advance Media New York to get his company’s perspective as pioneers in the open office movement. In the second half of this article, Advance Media explains how “digital media” can enable contractors, network owners and service providers to reach new customers.
WaveLengths - Steve, thank you for this opportunity.
Many of our readers are network installers and your
perspective as an end-user can suggest how the open
office concept may impact future enterprise networks.
Steve Hodgens - Thank you Charlie, I am pleased to be part of your magazine. I’m also looking forward to presenting at NFOC.
WaveLengths - Steve, I’d like to begin with some background about your company. What is Advance Media New York, and what does it do?
Steve Hodgens - We are a digital marketing agency. As such, we manage and implement multi-channel, digital first marketing campaigns for companies in every category, including Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Government (B2G), manufacturers and service companies. We call Upstate New York home, although we connect advertisers with customers around the world.
We are also a digital media company. We publish NYup.com, which is Upstate New York’s fastest growing website, and syracuse.com which Nielsen recognizes as the #1 website in the country for market penetration. We create text, image and video content for these websites, and we distribute our content on various social media platforms as well.
WaveLengths - I understand that your facility has 35,000 square feet of office space and over 100 employees. The remarkable thing to me is that your employees do not have assigned seats, desktop PCs or filing cabinets. How do they get their jobs done?
Steve Hodgens - Today’s technology makes it possible to run an office from wherever one may be. Every employee at Advance Media has been given a laptop, smartphone and backpack, but no fixed workstation.
One of the very few rules we have regarding how to work in this space is that an employee shouldn’t sit in the same seat two days in a row. This encourages collaboration, sometimes in unexpected ways. There’s a saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” so we moved from our traditional office environment to this new hub.
About Advance Media New York
Advance Media New York, headquartered in Syracuse, New York, is part of a global marketing and digital communications company. The firm has over 100 professional marketers who manage local, national and global campaigns for customers worldwide.
The company is an affiliate of Advance Publications, a privately held company that owns and operates a broad range of media, communications and technology businesses around the world.
WaveLengths - Speaking of sayings, I’ve heard it said,
“Collaboration is the new work model.” Your company
seems to have embraced that fully.
Steve Hodgens - Yes. We were early adopters of the open space office approach, having moved into our open office facilities four years ago. The open office environment has helped us create and reinforce a culture that encourages people to be open to new ideas, new relationships, new work groups and so forth. It’s easy to be more open to collaboration when people from every department are co-mingled in the office space, and never in the same way from one day to the next.
WaveLengths - What types of communication networks do you have to support your open space environment?
Steve Hodgens - We rely on fiber optics, wireless and cellular technologies. We have optical fiber going to our building, which provides the bandwidth for our network including our wireless devices. About 95% of our employees use portable laptops and we have a few fixed workstations. The cell service is important since it supports their smart phones. We don’t use telephone land lines.
WaveLengths - How are your wireless computers connected? Is it Wi-Fi or some other wireless platform?
Steve Hodgens - We use Wi-Fi.
WaveLengths - Do you have computer servers on site or is all of your data processing, emails and so forth done on end-user devices and/or through cloud services?
Steve Hodgens - Some of our servers are still on site but we have more and more migration to cloud services.
WaveLengths - What advice would you have for companies that are considering adopting an open space office design?
Steve Hodgens - One important thing is to have seamless communications in all areas of the facility. Employees who choose to work in any particular area must be able to connect to Wi-Fi for their digital computer needs and also have cellular service for phone. Meetings in our collaborative environment can be very informal and fluid, so employees must be able to “walk and talk” without losing signal.
WaveLengths - Do you feel the open office concept, with its wireless network architecture, represents the future of the enterprise network?
Steve Hodgens - Quite possibly, yes. But a lot depends on the type of business or organization. Advance Media is a marketing firm and a media company where collaboration among employees is very important.
WaveLengths - I’ve read that for some firms, the traditional work space is preferred. Some feel that employees are more productive when they are less social. They prefer that their employees work in traditional offices and cubicles.
Steve Hodgens - I think more companies will come to appreciate the advantages of the open space office. It also future-proofs the company because the open space office can more easily accommodate additional employees as the company grows over time. Also, as you said, collaboration is the new work model.
WaveLengths - WaveLengths readership includes installation contractors, network owners, service providers and manufacturers. Some of these businesses already use digital media to explain and promote their services on their websites. Are there other “digital media” channels they could be using to tell their story?
Steve Hodgens - Yes, absolutely. Examples include content marketing, email campaigns, social media, video, search and so forth. Creating a strategy and coordinating its execution is exactly where the services of Advance Media can help. Two of the many strengths of digital media are accountability and scalability. Advance Media can measure the success of every promotional dollar you spend, enabling you to use that information to grow the return on your marketing investments.
WaveLengths - What kind of analytic tools do you use?
Steve Hodgens - We use CRM data visualization, Google Analytics, customer surveys and other measurement tools to help in decision making regarding what the client’s message should be and how they should say it. By analyzing viewer demographics, click-through rates and other viewer behavior, Advance Media can show you what works, what doesn’t, and how it impacts your business. We continually optimize our clients’ marketing campaigns, providing a constant data stream to increase and improve our clients’ ROI.
WaveLengths - That’s great Steve and I want to know more. I understand that you will be talking more about the benefits of digital marketing in your upcoming NFOC presentation.
Steve Hodgens - Yes. We plan to talk about the ways our workspace is continuing to evolve and the many ways that digital marketing solutions for the companies at NFOC can and should evolve as well. 5G is on the horizon and there’s going to be a ton of new services that will need to be promoted and explained to customers.
WaveLengths - Thank you Steve. I’m looking forward to your presentation at NFOC!
Steve Hodgens - Thank you Charlie. I’ll see you then.