Throughout our office re/fresh process, one word has resurfaced many times: mobility. As a style of working, mobility offers flexibility to work from the office or from home; to be productive while waiting for a flight; to find a more inspiring space; or to seamlessly transition from individual work to group meeting. It’s no wonder that more and more companies are seeking ways to increase the mobility of their workforce, and we’re no different.
Becoming more mobile as an office is not an overnight task. Our ability to get our jobs done in the office, around the city or anywhere, worldwide, required many changes and improvements to our technology platform. Just look at designers’ software: it needs lots of processing power to run, and our file sizes typically hover in the hundreds of megabytes, even gigabytes. In our industry, this often equates to large desktop workstations, which makes mobility a bit of a challenge. Lucky for us, creative problem solving is at the core of what the Design and IT fields excel in.
The simple solution to this dilemma would be to deploy mobile workstation laptops. While it does work, no one was excited about a 12lb laptop with a 3lb power adaptor. Not to mention battery life counted in minutes, not hours. Perkins+Will decided to go a different route, adopting thin and light laptops to truly embrace mobility and provide the battery life to last much of the workday. These small and light laptops, alone, were not enough to meet our demanding software needs, so we also introduced what we call Computational Nodes or, as more widely known in the IT industry, Terminal Servers.
These Computational Nodes were the key to freeing us from our desks, and even our office. A remote server in the office processes all the demanding tasks needed by our design software, allowing staff to freely work and move around the office with ease. Working remotely no longer requires as much bandwidth or patience to allow large files to save. Working off a cellphone hotspot in a job trailer, for example, no longer compromises productivity but rather adds value by supporting a team member on-site.
This combination of light laptops and Computational Nodes opened up new opportunities for our teams. Team working session in a conference room or client site? No problem. Do staff need to relocate, in the office, for a new project? Now there is no need to schedule a move with IT. The team simply takes their laptops and plugs in to any desk. Providing the technology to make an office of designers more mobile has been a welcomed challenge. It has redefined how and where we work, ensuring that location is no longer a hurdle to our ability or efficiency.