Refurbishing office spaces to dynamic offices: what to consider when adopting a flex-office concept?
The principles of a flex office are simple: dedicated spaces with self-service workstations in a shared, open, flexible and connected office space. With reduction of costs, increased employee productivity, well-being and mobility, as well as digitalization of workplaces, the concept of flex offices has gradually entered within a lot of companies worldwide.
This blog highlights some of the challenges as well of the wins some French companies went through when they took the step from a fixed workplace to a flex office.
The revolution of designing a digital workspace
When it comes to adopting emerging technologies and moving towards digital transformation, many French companies are still reluctant to change. Other companies on the other hand have recognized the need for flexibility and mobility of employees and have decided to embark on the revolution of rethinking and redesigning traditional models in favour of open and efficient workplaces and digital experiences for their employees. This trend has been now set by companies such as Sanofi, AXA, Capgemini, Deloitte, PwC and Danone: all have focused on a true digitalization of their company and a transformation to a flex office.
Marc Zuili, CIO, Deloitte France, recognizes that everything is digital driven nowadays and that this affects the way employees work and also what they expect from their companies in terms of services and experiences provided. Deloitte has totally adapted their workplace to be an flex office. They offer various services to their employees, so each consultant or partner can freely work in an assigned working zone and operate every service through smartphones.
At AXA France, open spaces and new meeting spaces are encouraging collaboration between teams and represent the start of a real cultural transformation. By now, more than 2,000 AXA employees have been encouraged and supported to evolve towards an activity-based spatial organization.
When moving to the new headquarters, Capgemini embraced the new ways of working and it is one of the first flex offices of Capgemini with desk sharing. This project, also called “The 147”, is a continuation of a global plan for the transformation and modernization of real estate, conducted over the last three years, consisting of consolidating the Capgemini Group's various sites to offer the functionalities and services corresponding with the real needs of employees.
The rise of the flex office: advantages of the offices of the future
The new generation’s work mentality, as well as their fast adoption of emerging technologies, have required a rework of the workplace strategy and company culture, with real impact on the managerial dimension, HR and space utilization. What are the main advantages of switching to flex offices?
Imagine, laptop and smartphone in hand, the employee moves to a different office space every day and spends time in collective spaces like the cafeteria or lounge… No more fixed workstations for maximum flexibility. Employees are free to work where they want, in conditions that mostly suit them. It is the “no fixed office” which allows these daily exchanges between employees of different departments, encouraging collaboration and improving creativity, and allows working in more pleasant and agile work spaces.
(2) Cost reduction & efficient space
Shared office spaces are a way to optimize unused office space, which is, for example for Paris, estimated at 50% to 60% over the year. Adopting a flex office concept has therefore also economical implications and reasons: removing unused furniture and providing less workstations by diversifying work environments and focusing on zones and providing other services useful to employees (cafes, meeting & co-working zones, relax- and play-zones, quiet rooms). When rethinking the workplace space, companies choose to focus on the well-being of employees.
(3) Breaking the silos of departments
Beyond the gain in health at work and especially in cost reduction, the flex office is a question of management and communication. Companies which are traditionally organized into departments and distinct territories and that dared to switch to a flex office have had to “break the existing silos”. In a flex office, employees can regroup and meet based on the projects they are involved in and their availability.
Recipe for success: providing the right technologies
In order to have a successful flex-office, it is necessary to deploy the right technology and encourage all employees to make this change. From audio-visual equipment, options to work remotely, to platforms to control services in the building (light, temperature, space occupancy, finding colleagues, insight in desk occupancy, self-serviced dynamic storage - all of these smart digital tools are essential.
On the one hand to enable employees to move towards a flexible workstyle and on the other hand to help facility managers efficiently manage this kind of office spaces.