The Triumphs and Failures of an Agile Work Environment

Heading to 3020 Carrington Mill Blvd. in Morrisville, North Carolina can be rather lackluster and mundane. The repetitive nature of the many business parks is emphasized by the strikingly similar features of the individual buildings. As each car of an ambitious nine-to-five’er pulls into their respective building, the car you, the reader, are in is headed to Valassis Digital.

Valassis is a marketing tech company. The company specializes in targeted marketing campaigns, by connecting retailers with their ideal customers. Have you ever sworn your phone is listening to you because it showed you an ad after you talked about it? That is all due to the algorithms provided by Valassis’ Consumer Graph. The office is on the third floor, which can be reached by both elevator or stairs. But, for the sake of this exploration, you have decided to take the elevator. You are met immediately with a branded lobby. The navy-blue wall contrasted with the white Valassis logo on the decal is the first thing your eyes are drawn to. A quick look to the left and to the right reveals opposing glass double doors; inside of which you can see several conference rooms. But the office has yet to reveal any of its employee workspaces. You take a right out of the elevator, scanning your I.D. to open the glass door, then you head straight down the left to the UX/UI area, which we will primarily focus on for this exploration.

Standing desks are pushed together in rows, each desk consisting of walls of at least two computer monitors and a laptop on each desk. The carpet is grey with red stripes randomly sprinkled throughout. The red in the carpet immediately draws your eyes to the red accent walls, which eventually lead your eyes to the city mural on the wall composed of various shades of red and pink. Despite the office being shaped like an “O” with open spaces flowing from one team to another, the color break down sends visual cues to separate the spaces in a much less tangible sense. Most employees within the red city are working at their desks, half standing and half sitting. Ever so softly you hear music playing in the background; so softly in fact it could almost be a product of your imagination. Tucked in the corner is a large couch, scattered with a makeshift library of design books. The war rages on in your mind as to whether you are in a corporate office or a cozy living room; however, the dichotomy of the two is rather calming, but not so calming that you don’t feel like you’re at work. Unfortunately, rather harsh fluorescent lights are starting to give you a headache and compete with the floor to ceiling windows that brighten the space to an almost ungodly sense. The sense of privacy from desk to desk is almost non-existent, and depending on your individual work methods this can have negative or positive connotations; however, the sense of team and collaboration is not only present, but has created a nearly tangible atmosphere. This is only complimented by the almost floor to ceiling project boards behind you.

The space works, it is not perfect, but it works.