The covid 19 pandemic has been a door opener for new, digital mindsets and a rapid game changer for the way employers and employees think about work situations. Amongst the largest corporations we find that many has already started to change strategies around the way we work. The most important topic to consider once we implement and change strategies, is to be critical to the reason why we choose to change. Let’s not just change the way we work. Let’s improve the way we work!

Written by: Mathias Willumsen, Head of Community & Events at Epicenter Oslo

Extraordinary times not only calls for extraordinary measures. They call for change. Through moving majority of workers to a home office situation, the pandemic has also moved companies through a digital transformation that would have taken years without the virus. The major reason being that companies could not put profitable operations on hold, simply because we as employees were no longer working from the office. Working from home has not been the only change. We also see companies finding new ways to work on individual tasks, reporting, teamwork, projects and drive new business models out of a remote workday. Although many of us are impatient to get back to the office, innovative companies know that going all the way back to how things were is impossible. Regardless of the extraordinary situation, we as companies and societies shall move forward!

Going back is no option. Let’s move forward in our strategic mindset of how we create social, practical and performance optimized workspace.

Activity based workspace

The workspace of the future is not only based on an office work desk and a remote screen in your two-bedroom apartment. Though home office has proved to be quite effective. Actually, in some cases, more effective than the regular office model. Employees on average miss to meet colleagues and clients, not only for social reasons, but for some activities a physical meeting is simply put more effective. If you want to lead your company in a direction of more innovation and internal cooperation, it is critical to ensure that the workspace is optimal for the activities it is supposed to support. Cooperation, teamwork and innovation at the office, while practical and productive tasks can be done from a remote work situation.

From 12 000 to 3 000 square meters office space

From 2012 to 2020, our members at Microsoft Sweden have improved and change the way they facilitate workspace for their employees. In terms of space, they have done a shift from 12.000 gross square meters of office space, to an office of around 3.000 square meters. The interesting analysis shows once we dive into the numbers.

Though a significant decrease in total square meters, the size of space offered to employees in social and creative areas, also open for clients, has almost not decreased at all. In fact, the ratio of closed versus open space, has shifted from 20-25% open space to 75% open space over the last eight years. In addition, Microsoft has created a yearly home office budget to optimize how employees work from home, added memberships in different coworking areas such as WeWork and Epicenter to offer employees a creative office where they not only can work from, but also build valuable network, share knowledge and learn from other growing companies. All this, so that employees can choose to perform their work tasks from wherever they find themselves performing the very best.

Are we going back to normal?

Not really. The office space will be an important part of our daily life also in the future. But as our member, Henrik Byström, Business Group Lead at Microsoft Sweden says; We won’t go back to where we were. We will be working more remote and in a hybrid way. It is therefore important that we as employers provide and offer modern solutions for our employees. The energy of being in a physical room with colleagues and clients can at this stage not be transferred into the digital space. The best way to do this, is to keep listening to employees and figure out where they perform best with the different tasks you need to get done.

Involve your team. Cut costs.

Employees have become super users in Microsoft Teams and Google Meet. Let’s make them superusers in your company’s strategy!

Through the rapid change of how we work, many of us have become self-proclaimed super users in Microsoft Teams. Through the digital sunrise, we see companies that find this as a possibility to cut costs on the traditional office solution. This is done while employees use their cost-free living room space as their workspace. Companies like Google and Facebook are amongst the large, international companies that have confirmed a more long-term home office solution. Possible with a permanent solution for those who want to. Many of them have listened to their employees and are rebuilding their traditional office space. These are built into creative spaces for meetings, projects, cooperation and both internal and external networking. Though change is going in the right direction, might be worth to mention that not all of us are excited about working from home.

Work in a hybrid way

In an unofficial survey amongst more than 400 of our member companies at Epicenter* a little under 90% says they want to work maximum two days per week from home. More than half also claims to be more creative in an office amongst colleagues. They also claim that it is important to take part in a community that is about more than just their own company. This emphasize the need to be critical about why we change our workplace strategy. Bring your employees into the field and make sure you know how and from where they want to work. In good time ahead of changing your own strategy.

Through involving your employees, you empower them with ownership and opportunity to impact the strategic development of your company. Research amongst American companies show that ownership in strategic processes contributes to improve employee satisfaction and productivity as well as a significant decrease in employee churn. In other words, if you involve your team in strategic work the long term effect will be lower costs.

Want to get started with your strategic change? Contact us at Epicenter for an informal talk about how to involve your employees and create the workspace of the future.

*Epicenter Member Survey October 2020

This blog post is written by Mathias Willumsen, Head of Community & Events at Epicenter Oslo. Do you have questions to the content of the post or want to learn more about this topic? Reach out through LinkedIn.

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