Microsoft Canada brings down the barriers

A new energy-efficient architectural design has given new meaning to the words “”Microsoft office.””

Microsoft Canada officially opened its new Mississauga headquarters at 1950 Meadowvale Blvd. late Thursday, claiming the 170,000 sq.

ft. building will prove to have the most efficient lighting system in North America. The typical office building uses 1.5 watts per square foot while the new Microsoft HQ uses only 0.3 watts.

“”That’s totally unheard of,”” says Dermot Sweeny, architect and designer of the building.

The four-story building, which is being considered a prototype for the company’s offices in North America, was designed to allow employees to be more collaborative. It features floor-to-ceiling glass walls for improved use of natural light and increased energy savings. And don’t expect to find elaborate corner offices dominated by executives – there are no offices or cubicles along outside walls, allowing employees to walk the perimeter of each floor.

“”This is about human comfort and a reinvestment in personnel,”” said Sweeny.

Office space has shrunk for some, including Gordon Jekubik, director of business operations at Microsoft Canada, whose office used to be more than twice the size it is now. But he says a loss of square footage has translated into improved communication with employees on his team.

“”I had a corner office twice the size at the old building and I felt incredibly disconnected from my team,”” said Jekubik. “”Now, I feel closer to them.””

Jekubik’s office is about 100 sq. ft. and has clear glass sliding doors, allowing him to see what’s happening in his department at all times, and let employees know when he’s meeting with someone. Although he isn’t physically any closer to them than before, fewer visual barriers have translated into increased communication, he said.

The floor design allows for 20 per cent more employees per floor than in the previous building, but Sweeny says individual cubicles have not diminished in size. In fact they have gone from an average of 7×7 feet to 7X8 feet. Furniture in the cubicles can be pulled apart and fit together to suit each individual.

While all manager’s offices are now located in the centre of each floor, Microsoft Canada president Frank Clegg enjoys a window view — although his office is about 180 sq. ft., says Sweeny.

A wireless network and cabling in the floor gives workers the ability to pick up and work just about anywhere in the building.

For sales staff and others who find themselves on the road much of the time, smaller cubicle areas called “”mobile touch-down”” units have been created on most floors. However, unlike the system created by Sun Microsystems of Canada, employees don’t have to book with a reservation system to ensu

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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