Employees Score with Touchdown Space

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Temporary workspace in Seattle offers relief from an ugly drive to Redmond. Reserve a space, shorten your commute, and preserve your sanity.

By Steve Birge

May 2, 2008

Crossing the dreaded Lake Washington bridges to get to work in Redmond is a lot less painful if you stay in Seattle.

For many Seattle residents, the new Worklink Touchdown space in the Westlake/Terry building in downtown Seattle is a welcome relief. The new space opened April 14. It offers loads of airy temporary desk space, meeting rooms and collaboration areas, and enclosed phone/Live Meeting rooms. It’s located just downstairs from existing Microsoft offices in Seattle.

About 150 spaces are available for FTEs to reserve for up to five consecutive work days. The bright, collegial space is not meant to replace assigned offices, but rather to offer a workplace for the convenience of employees in Seattle, said Cindy Quitasol, development manager for Americas Real Estate.  

“If you have a meeting downtown and you live on this side [of the lake], or if you’re from another location and have a meeting in Seattle, you can stop here and get some work done,” she said. “Or maybe you have a doctor or other type of appointment in Seattle—instead of driving back across the lake, you can come here, work, and go home. It takes out a lot of commute time.”  

The Seattle Touchdown space is another program in the Worklink initiative, which, among other things, also operates the Microsoft Connector bus service. Users have access to day-use lockers, copiers and faxes, and a large kitchen/common space. The desks, each with wired and Wi-Fi access to Corpnet, have some partitioning so that occupants can focus, but the overall layout is open.

Michael Grochau, a group program manager in the AdCenter group, was enthusiastic about the space but suggested minor adjustments. “From an ergonomic perspective, it would be great if there was a monitor, keyboard, and mouse set up,” he said. “But I’m saving money on gas, I’m able to walk to the gym, the lockers are great, and being downtown is great. It’s about organizing work time as well. You have to have face time with your team and managers, so it’s making me be more structured with my time.”

There are meeting rooms, but furniture in several areas allow for team discussions in a more comfortable setting akin to a lounge. There are also a number of “phone rooms,” with doors that enable phone or Live Meeting discussions without bothering other users.

The ability to have remote meetings is important to Nir Froimovici, a lead program manager with AdCenter. “I had a challenge working here [at Touchdown], being a manager and making sure I had enough face time with my team,” he said. “But we worked it out with the virtual technology we have. I provided a Webcam to everybody on my team, so we had what we required to have our weekly meeting.”

Quitasol said the Touchdown space is getting decent traffic but expects use to build as the word gets out. It is actually a pilot facility, said Kristine Lea, senior manager in North America Facilities and Services. She said Microsoft is looking at other opportunities for expansion of the concept but wants to wait to see how the new Seattle space is used before moving ahead. Quitasol said there are not specific expectations about how well used it will be, but response to date has been positive.

“We’re sensing a lot of people are really excited about it,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot of interest in e-mails from people who live here and people who’ve used the space seem to be very pleased.”

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