1. Spatial co-location within teams
As you can see from the map in the left, where colors denote teams, we were spread out in a haphazard way. People from a team were not always sitting together and this was not only causing them inefficiencies but was also leading to a lack of communication within teams. It was also having an adverse effect on team morale.
2. Flexible work spaces
MICHR has a variety of units that do very different work but collaborate often. To support the roles that we play everyday at MICHR, we needed flexible work spaces that support small and large places to come together, horizontal and vertical work surfaces, program specific spaces to focus, brainstorm and collaborate and quiet spaces to hide in.
3. Signage and wayfinding
MICHR has a large area and is located amidst many other units. It is often confusing for people to navigate within MICHR and to other units. We have a row of cubes and there are few landmarks within our space for guidance. People also stop by looking for major meeting rooms that are shared with other units, sometimes disturbing the workers. Signage and way finding became a recurring theme through our user research.
4. Difference between internal and external services
As most other organizations, MICHR has internal and external facing services. However, our internal and external services are interspersed with other making it harder for staff to find these services. As an example, if a staff member had a question related to HR, there was nothing in our space that indicated where he/she would go to find someone who can answer it. This was true for our external clients as well as they found finding external services harder because they were mixed with internal ones.
5. Noise Level
While we assume that quiet is the default mode of operation for people, innovation and collaboration sometimes need a little bit of noise. This is what we learnt when we spoke to staff at MICHR. They thought the space was "library quiet" and they did not feel that they had the permission to go up to someone and ask them a question.
6. When can I interrupt someone?
Staff found it hard to understand when it was ok to interrupt one another. Some staff had offices with glass doors while had offices without openings. Most of the staff had cubes and there was no good way to tell if it was ok to interrupt someone or not.
7. Whose table is it anyway?
We realized that there was a lot of uncertainty over who owned which piece of space and what could or could not be done in our space. This lead most staff members to feel reluctant to experiment with and use the space we had to suit their needs.