COVID-Ready Buildings Feature Modern Environmental Design
Modern environmental design blended with COVID-ready features make itel buildings not only safe and functional for employees, but entirely reimagined for the nature of today’s call center aesthetic.
There was a grand vision at play when itel designed its newest customer experience management facilities. Two new sites are specifically adapted to meet the new health and safety requirements brought on by the global pandemic: itel’s new landmark ‘Chalmers’ building, a 90, 000 square feet, state-of-the-art facility in Kingston, Jamaica will go live in fall of 2021; and the Saint Lucia operations that opened in July of 2020 in the Hewanorra Freezone are being expanded.
Instead of the traditional, sterile factory floor setup that contact centers were once known for, itel has come up with a design expression that better reflects a company that is always evolving.
Now, we are taking that vision to another level.
A Design That Blends Modern Spaces with the Natural World
Visitors should expect a treat when they walk into the Chalmers building. Set to open later this year, employees and guests will be struck by the amount of light and openness. Soaring ceilings and towering glass walls will create a modern spaciousness that is punctuated by stunning lightbox displays, energetic pops of color, botanical walls, and natural, organic elements that blend seamlessly with the tech-inspired décor.
The inspiration was to bring the outdoors inside, and to craft an interior space that harmonized beautifully with the exterior landscape and vibrant culture of the Jamaican people.
In fact, the natural landscape of each site is central to the overall design.
At Saint Lucia, the island’s airy, organic beauty is reflected in the minimalist, modern and sleek design of the itel buildings. Light flows through windows and bounces off shiny metal staircases while indoor rock gardens bring in a natural element. The furniture selection was also inspired by the colors of the natural environment, with accents of blues and greens, reminiscent of the sea and palm tree leaves.
The Design Process: All in The Family
True to itel’s core values of Quality, Integrity, Reliability and Family, the design of the new buildings was a family affair.
Philippa Epstein, the mother of founding Chairman and CEO, Yoni Epstein, is the interior designer whose vision translated into some of the building’s more daring and innovative features.
“We wanted to create environments that augment the mind,” she explains, “to heighten the employee experience with these gorgeous, modern structures where culture and family come together.”
The new Chalmers building will feature common areas with brightly colored seating, nature-inspired artwork, organic live-edge wood tables, and glass windows that allow light to stream through.
As Philippa explains, “we wanted to create this feeling that staff are not missing out on the rest of the world when they are inside this building.”
Making COVID-Ready Design More Than Functional
The employee experience was crucial in the early design phases. Equally important was the health and safety of our staff.
As Yoni explained in an interview with the Jamaica Observer, “After COVID-19 hit, we went back to the drawing board and redesigned the approach to our new facilities, both in Kingston and Saint Lucia, to meet COVID-19 safety requirements. It was just another opportunity for us to stay ahead of the game.”
Though there were inherent challenges in building a new, expanded site in Saint Lucia during a global pandemic, the architectural team ensured that all structures met local government standards for COVID-safety. While the talented team at Invest Saint Lucia provided the clever idea to sustainably repurpose an old factory shell in the Hewanorra Free Zone to expand the capabilities of itel’s Saint Lucia site.
Production floor layouts in both the Kingston and Saint Lucia locations were adapted to comply with social distancing guidelines. Ergonomic, specially designed workspaces allow for safe employee interactions, with 36-inch-high plexiglass partitions recommended by health and government authorities.
“We gave up some production spaces in the process.,” explains Janecia Welds-Wainwright, Head of Projects. “But, Yoni, our CEO, wanted to ensure we stayed within the COVID parameters of safety. He also made the decision to avoid the factory feel of a typical call center. He wanted it to be more spacious, where everyone has their own individual work area that they can personalize.”
Creating a Culture of Wellness
Other adjustments were made to maximize employee wellness and safety. Walkways were widened and communal areas were redesigned to allow for socially distant traffic flow. HVAC climate control systems were either upgraded, or built, to allow maximum airflow and proper air filtration that complies with international ASHRAE standards for indoor air quality.
Modern, technical infrastructure, such as a robust telecommunication platform, allowed work-at-home (WAH) employees to interact with inhouse teams daily, which helped our WAH staff feel like they were still part of the itel family.
Employee mental health was also a big concern during the turbulent global health crisis. In Saint Lucia, we set up an employee Wellness Center and chill space, introduced as a “quiet place, to go and read, or just lounge,” Janecia tells us. “Where you can unwind and relax when you’re having a rough day.”
The Chalmers building in Kingston will also offer an indoor gym and a coffee bar where people can grab a peaceful cup of tea when needed.
Fresh Designs Create New Engagement
True to its motto of EX=CX, itel’s new, COVID-ready buildings enhance and elevate the employee experience, with a design aesthetic that blends safety and wellness with modern, environmental design and a welcoming feel that is a hallmark of itel’s brand.
When asked how itel employees welcomed the fresh look, Janecia was quick to confirm it was a big hit. “Once we launched, we had a lot of positive reactions. A lot of people weren’t used to this personalized environment. But once they saw it, many staff wanted to be onsite. In Saint Lucia, employee attendance has been at a record high. People love that building.”
Which shows that COVID-readiness does not need to be merely functional. It can also lead to a redesign of the modern call center, one that better reflects its people, community, culture, and natural landscape.
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