CI went behind the scenes with SIGNET Electronic Systems as the Massachusetts integrator planned its new workspace, which leans heavily on employee input and the firm’s in-house technical expertise. By Tom LeBlanc
TACKLING A NEW office space design can be daunting. It’s a little different, however, for an integration firm that specializes in solving workspace technology challenges. It’s even more distinctive for Norwell, Mass.-based SIGNET Electronic Systems, which is unique in its focus on audio, video, telecommunications and security.

So between its in-house expertise and the fact that its customers across all vertical markets are focusing on rethinking their workspaces, it was very appropriate for SIGNET to take on a lot of the planning itself when the firm turned the workspace challenge on itself.

The opportunity came up when SIGNET, which had been in its facility for 25-plus years, bought a building just a few doors down. The approximately $40 million integration firm with 138 employees across New England had tripled its size since 1992, and has reflected changes in the industry since the company appeared on the very first issue of Commercial Integrator in 2011.

President and owner Bradford Caron recognized that the new space would better accommodate growth and would allow his organization to create a more collaborative and efficient work environment.

The new building can accommodate more engineers, technicians and project managers, according to a SIGNET press release. It offers a 2,400-square-foot area for production, assembly, testing and certification and boasts a 14,000-square-foot environmentally-controlled warehouse.

Caron also recognized that the old space wasn’t allowing the organization to evolve its workflows as quickly as needed. He wanted a space that current and future employees will embrace.

“To be an industry leader, we must be able to attract high energy, fresh, techsavvy talent,” says Caron. “An environment designed around state-of-the-art technology and natural light, combined with amenities such as a lounge, café, outdoor patio, individual private lockers, and designer furniture is attractive to Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z.”

Highlights of the new space include:

  • Use of windows and glass to “borrow” natural light. “If you are standing in the center of the building, you can see clear through two departments to the outside” says Stephen E. Archibald AIA, president of Archdesign, Inc., a Massachusetts-based architectural design firm that SIGNET worked with on the project. Two 4-x-8-foot skylights were installed into the interior engineering area, and a 16-foot glass entrance tower was added to bring a new look to the exterior.
  • A complete passive and active data infrastructure including a new data center with redundant firewalls, fiber connectivity, UPS backup and IP climate- control HVAC.
  • A security package with a unified IP access control and CCTV system and zoned intrusion detection system anchored by a Genetec platform.
  • Exterior LED lighting controlled via a networked lighting control panel for scheduling and lighting scene control.
  • An addressable fire alarm system throughout the building.

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