Wednesday, August 26, 2009

reboot communications office space?

When I think about rebooting your communications operation to fit today's shifts and changes--from technology to the economy--strategy's normally at the top of the list. Today, though, I'm thinking strategically about how your office, your physical space, also needs a reboot to make it functional for the communications challenges ahead. Here are a few ideas I've been mulling (or trying out) to make my space and yours fit for the future:

  • Take down the TVs and put Twitter up for the office to monitor news: I've been known to create a newsroom-like atmosphere in a communications office by wall-mounting TVs dedicated to showing CNN with the sound off, to allow anyone to monitor news in real time. Today, I'd be showing a Twitter feed, customized to the office's topics and focus. In this post on RSS, pointing out that Twitter's far more real-time than syndication, Robert Scoble says: "I'm not in the news business anymore, but if I were I’d keep Twitter up on screen. I’ve been looking closely at Google Reader’s latest features, Twitter, Facebook, and FriendFeed...most of what shows up...shows up in my Twitter feed up to a day earlier." Wondering why everyone needs to see it? There's been more than one day when someone wandering by, an administrative assistant or a colleague down the hall alerted us to breaking news--and if only a few get to see the feed, only a few perspectives will reign.
  • Reduce the file cabinet space. Most communications offices are replete with file cabinets and cupboards to store all those annual reports, printed news releases, and other paper-based information tools. I set out more than a year ago to revamp my own offices, and this previous post includes a link to ways to set metrics for your office's paper reduction. Lessons learned: I don't miss the paper, I gained loads of storage, and my focus is improved with fewer stacks sitting around.
  • Expand the electronica space: Key to my paper reduction has been theKindle 2, which stores my books, as well as speeches, any PDF or Word documents I need to take with me, magazines, and blogs. You can avoid loads of delivery and recycling of periodicals and newspapers by stocking a few for office-wide use. It sure clears up the shelf space, and the newer, larger-format Kindle DX is a boon for art directors, graphic or web designers, or anyone whose communications work includes lots of photos, charts and visuals, or just more storage space (3,500 documents fit in the DX). But you'll also need to dedicate space to recharge all those devices you're using in lieu of paper, and perhaps, secure storage. Good news: most of the devices are small, but you may need to expand those power strips for all the plugs and cords.
  • Stock up on stocked backpacks: Just as local reporters are going mobile, with stocked backpacks full of audio and video equipment, so should you have ready at least a couple of kitted-out packs. Consider stocking ultra-light camcorders like the Flip MinoHD Camcorder, or the Kodak Zi8 HD Pocket Video Camera (available now to pre-order for delivery in September), which adds an external microphone jack for improved sound recording. Choosing a backpack? Try a backpack that comes with chargers, tripods, and cleaning kits for cameras or choose from among the many other electronics backpacks.
  • Make room for visitors and drop-bys. Crowdsourcing, collaboration and creative brainstorming with outside sources are the methods of the day. While square footage can be tight, consider dedicating one cubicle as a drop-by space--you can alternate its use for telecommuting full-timers and outside visitors. Then invite in some outsiders for a day or more: visiting colleagues from other organizations, competitors, supporters, consultants. Lend them space in return for some insights and observations, a type of co-working that can advance your rebooting efforts.
If you've rebooted your space, downsized your archives and created a new look, feel and functionality for your communications office, snap a picture and send me an explanation at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz to share with others.

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