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Philadelphia Business Rethinks Its Office Environment

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A woman uses a stand-up work station at the GlaxoSmithKline building at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. (Credit: Michelle Durham)

A woman uses a stand-up work station at the GlaxoSmithKline building at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. (Credit: Michelle Durham)

Michelle Durham Michelle Durham
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By Michelle Durham

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The new GlaxoSmithKline building at the Navy Yard is a dramatic departure from the former high rise they occupied. There is not a single private office in the building, and employees have their choice each day as to whether to work while seated or standing.

Sandy McKeown, who works in IT, she says the new environment took some getting used to.

“People were nervous and anxious about it. It seems as though our group has settled in very well. We are able to sit where we need to for the day and interact with our colleagues as needed versus scheduling lots of meetings.”

That’s right: no assigned seats either. Groups are assigned to “neighborhoods,” but because of the open environment of desks, no cubicles, casual seating areas, and all-glass conference rooms, it’s easy to track down who you are looking for.

But communications coordinator Elizabeth Finocchiaro says that while the open environment promotes sharing, there are times when you need to work without distraction.  So everyone was provided large clips that attach to your monitor or chair.

“One is a ‘do not disturb’, which is red. (There is) a yellow one that says, ‘I’ll be right back’ and a green one that says ‘I’m available.’”

Employees took an etiquette course to learn how to monitor their own volume and not to be afraid to approach a co-worker whose carrying voice may be a distraction.

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