Sep 26, 2019 in Viewpoint
5 questions with Jana Koch about the future of work
DHL Consulting recently made the change to activity-based working and designed a whole new office space. We had the pleasure of meeting Jana Koch, partner at DHL Consulting, in the DHL Consulting office in Bonn, Germany. Together we sat down in one of their (awesome) meeting rooms and got the chance to ask her about the future of work.
What is your vision on the workplace of the future?
“In one word: flexibility. You can work whenever and wherever you want. The office should have multiple areas to suit different activities. Think of phone booths for private calls, meeting rooms for stand-ups, quiet zones for focused work, and areas where you can get together with colleagues to catch up. The new generations, the millennials and generation Z, already have these expectations of the office.
Also, I believe that collaboration becomes more and more important. Companies can benefit from employees working together more often. Imagine sitting next to different colleagues every day. You talk and socialize about different topics rather than just staying part of one team, bound to one desk.”
How do you align this vision within the office of DHL Consulting?
“Recently we redesigned a part of our office in Bonn. We needed to optimise the utilisation space within our existing premises. So, we tore down walls and moved out of our individual offices. Our old office space looked very stiff and old fashioned. The new office space is the contrary. We now have different zones for collaboration, meetings, and projects. Within those zones, we have a variety of rooms. Rooms where you can easily have an agile stand-up meeting, or where you can keep a presentation and sit comfortably for more than an hour. We really thought about the activities that needed to be supported in the new work concept, so we asked the employees that exact question. We then made sure that the new office supported the needs of all employees.
And even though we are not there yet, I already see the benefits. We collaborate way more within the various workspaces. Every room is being used the way it is intended. But it wasn’t just the office we changed, we also went paperless, introduced a clean desk policy and made technological changes. We switched to different management tools, introduced a mobile office policy and of course implemented Mapiq. This new way of working, activity-based and flexible, allows employees to work where they want and it also implies a strong statement from a manager's point of view saying: ‘I trust you’, which is very important.”
Jana Koch, partner at DHL Consulting
“Employees at DHL Consulting love Mapiq. It is super easy to use and really fits our needs. When I sit here, for example, I can directly find an available meeting room on the 3D map. Or when I need to do focused work, find a workplace in the silent zone.”
What role do you think emergent technologies play in the future of work?
“A very big role! You need to find the type of technology that suits your employees and the company. For us, as we went paperless, we tested a lot of new tools. Such as digital flip charts. But also, new management tools were necessary. There is no need for dragging around paper-based Kanban boards if you can also do everything digitally. A dedicated team within DHL Consulting tested new technologies for quite a while, so we made sure we picked the right ones.”
How do you involve employees in this new way of working?
“This of course was very important for us, but also challenging. Right after a space utilisation measurement, we started off with the activity-list, by asking employees what kind of workspaces they needed. The next step was involving employees in the workshops about the new office. You can see it as co-creation; if they wanted, they could join in on the weekly workshop and share their ideas or concerns. They could pick out the carpet or discuss the options for a game room. But not everything was up for discussion. For some of the changes we implemented, we asked our employees to give it a try. If it really didn’t work, we would change it. But that was barely the case. What I liked about this transition were the skeptical employees, those that were critical in the beginning, but said later on: ‘I was doubtful at first, but now I am convinced of the new way of working.’
If I could advise other companies in their transition to activity-based working, I would say to not be frustrated. Not everybody shouts ‘yeah’, when you show the new office for the first time. It takes time. Maybe you could even introduce the concept: ‘100 days without complaints’, to ensure that employees really give it a try. And yes, never forget this one, lead by example! The top management needs to make the first move.”
What is your vision on GDPR and privacy within this new way of working?
“All of our collaboration tools are GDPR-appliant. We ensure privacy. When it comes to the employees at the office, we thought about departments that should have a fixed space within the office, but of course, could use all zones. For example, HR, who possess personal information about our employees and have confidential talks frequently. We made sure that they would keep a dedicated area in the office. But colleagues can easily find where they are in Mapiq. And if they don’t want to be found, that’s okay. You can opt-in or opt-out. This gives employees the privacy they need, and well, of course, we don’t have sensors in the restrooms and don’t check data on an individual level.”
Jana Koch, partner at DHL Consulting
“Mapiq decreased the time we spent on finding meeting rooms. We are looking forward to implementing it on our third construction site and making DHL Consulting even more Mapiq.”
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