Innovative “hybrid first” Financial Services workspace opens on campus

Financial Services (FS) at the University of Utah has officially moved into its new home. Centrally located in the ground-level plaza between Student Services and the Park Building, the facility will serve as part-time home for most members of the division. It was previously occupied by Purchasing.

“We moved from 16,000 square feet to 9,000 square feet with an assumption of about 30% of our team on campus on any given day,” said Associate Vice President Theresa Ashman.

The design of the office emphasizes that hybrid work is more than just a person’s ability to change work locations of specific days. Instead, it serves as an opportunity to encourage cross-collaboration in a division with more than 13 different departments.

The space is malleable, with no assigned seating in the common area. Each work station is equipped with dual monitors, a charging station, an ergonomic chair and every desk can be turned into a standing desk. There are tables where employees can work on projects together, whiteboards to catch brainstorms and couches where colleagues can gather to catch up.

The intentionality behind the design of the new space was crucial. While the leadership team wanted to highlight the purpose and benefit of employees working together on campus, they were also cognizant of those who had not returned to in-person work.

“We’re using Polycom Systems in the conference and collab spaces so that people who are not on campus have the same experience in meetings,” said Ashman.

Due to the sensitive nature of Financial Services work – like handling tax information, credit cards and check printing – the office is restricted. To access the office space, employees need to scan in with their badge.

Security is a top priority, but so is ensuring that campus community members feel welcomed when they stop by the office for business. The division’s bright and airy reception area greets visitors where they can pick up checks securely from coded lockers.

For Training Specialist and Content Coordinator Desmond Vest, working in the new space has given him the chance to connect with coworkers IRL.

“When I’m in the office and I see someone from an online meeting, I like to let them know that it’s ok to talk to me in person. It’s ok that we aren’t in the meeting. I want to be your actual friend,” said Vest. “Anytime I see someone look at me, I’ll always smile back and say something to initiate a conversation. It’s important to let them know that I’m a real person beyond the screen.”

Some departments within FS will not be moving to the new space. The Post-Award Research Administration team remains on the fourth floor of the Park Building, while General Stores and Surplus and Salvage are offsite with their warehouse operations. The Bursar's student-centered window operations will continue to be housed in the Student Services Building.

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