Desk Sharing: Best Practice in Germany, Austria and Switzerland
The concept of "New Work" has experienced extreme acceleration with the Corona pandemic, and many companies, even if the health crisis is finally over, do not want to go back to the working of the day before yesterday. Therefore, desk sharing has come to stay as part of hybrid work models in many large and small companies.
For desk sharing to work and keep the team motivated, there needs to be a clear concept that considers the wishes and needs of the employees*. Some companies in Europe are showing how it's done:
Microsoft Austria set itself the goal of creating an office by employees for employees. The people were intensively involved and accompanied during the changeover, so the initial scepticism quickly dissipated. The new working environment also applies to everyone; desk sharing does not reflect hierarchies. Even the board members work according to this concept. The open, shared workstations and spaces also mean a new level of transparency for Microsoft's workforce. This inspires teamwork and creates open communication.
Image Credit: Microsoft Austria
Many rooms are available to employees for their projects – colourful pieces of furniture, a garden, classic office desks, and a "Nature Room": dressed entirely in wood, with a long desk in the middle and a comfortable sofa chair in the corner. The many young employees at Microsoft appreciate being able to choose their rooms according to their mood and needs, allowing them to move around more and more freely.
The telecom provider Drei has reduced the number of workplaces in Austria from 1,500 to 900 - after the pandemic has switched even more to mobile working. Nevertheless, employees still like to go to the office: for personal exchange, but also the social fabric and cohesion, a physical meeting place is simply essential. Gustav serves as an element that has made the transition to flexible working much easier for those responsible: The modern toolbox inspires employees and contributes significantly to making life in the office easier.
Image: Gustav Concept
Federal Accounting Agency
The Federal Accounting Agency is the central service provider for the Republic of Austria's accounting system. In 2019, it launched a pilot project with desk sharing. One prerequisite was the successful establishment of home offices. The desk-sharing area includes four large rooms with computer workstations. Also integrated are focus rooms, phone boxes, a kitchen and a lounge area for breaks. In the telephone boxes, employees are completely isolated from external noise. In the focus rooms, they can devote themselves to particularly demanding tasks without being disturbed – after making a reservation.
A separate working group developed the rules for successful desk sharing so that everyone in the team could work efficiently and with motivation. Soon, the first experience was gained: The atmosphere in the new workspace was calm and concentrated. The employees feel comfortable and enjoy all aspects of the new, modern office.
Image Credit: MOOCON
Modern workplaces, appreciation at eye level and a strong sense of togetherness: At the European pharmaceutical company AOP Orphan, employees must enjoy coming to the office and working with progressive tools. Gustav not only provides support in transporting their belongings but also helps to communicate the topic of New Work. When furnishing the new office, great importance was attached to ensuring that all workstations are equipped with modern equipment so that it is a pleasure to come into the office and work with advanced tools.
During the changeover to desk sharing, Gustav helped to communicate the topic in a playful and creative way and has a certain goodie character that the employees appreciate. The decisive factor for the toolbox was sustainability and flexibility: Especially in a modern office, work takes place not only at the desk but also in the social area or a phone box.
Image Credit: Gustav Concept
Lower Austria Chamber of Labour
The Lower Austrian Chamber of Labour pursues an office concept at its headquarters geared to the employees' respective activities. The hybrid model meets the diverse needs of the workforce. There are fixed workstations, quiet zones for undisturbed and concentrated work, but also an open-space concept that allows more flexibility in communication and teamwork with desk sharing. This example shows that modern working can also be implemented sustainably in public institutions.
Erste Group has also introduced a desk sharing concept at its campus in Vienna. This serves different needs: some like to work in the fresh air on the terrace, others prefer to talk to colleagues in a quiet room. The cost argument is clearly in the background at Erste Group. The important thing is to enable employees to work in a more mobile, flexible and communicative way.
The company has now also evaluated the desk sharing model. The result: the majority of the workforce is very satisfied with it. They are happy that the desks are not cluttered unnecessarily, and adjustments are made if there is a shortage of workstations in a department.
Image Credit: Deutsche BauZeitschrift
At Lufthansa, the classic duty of presence is a discontinued model. Instead, the concept is called New Workspace. Before its introduction, the company looked to many companies that had already established modern office models for inspiration. They realized early on that modern office space and top technical equipment was not enough. Employees need intensive support to understand and accept the advantages, such as the emergence of a culture of trust instead of a culture of presence. Managers are also joining in: The large, luxurious individual office in the executive suite is a thing of the past.
Image Credit: Lufthansa
Desk sharing enables new, free spaces with diverse uses. These include think tanks, sofas, telephone boxes, workbenches and multifunctional meeting rooms. However, the company does not want to stagnate in the process: The offering is constantly being adapted and expanded. Innovations, previous experience and new needs are always considered.
Image Credit: Siemens
Siemens in Munich is building on the "Flexible Office". After extensive planning and development, the office has a clear concept. Each department has a "home base". Employees who always work on site due to their tasks are equipped with stationary workstations.
The desk-sharing zone is where those whose job profile means that they are regularly at different workplaces – both on and off-site – are active. They are grouped around the home base. Depending on the project and requirements, team members choose desks close to their colleagues who are currently involved. This allows them to work more efficiently by quickly transferring knowledge and information. In addition, the sharing area can always be adapted and expanded to neighbouring areas, for example. The variable size allows for the greatest possible flexibility.
A new space every day: A lot has recently happened at ASFINAG regarding flexible working. After the move to a new office building, desk sharing was introduced: With a few exceptions, there are no longer any fixed workstations. Each employee looks for their workstation daily. To make desk sharing and flexible workstation design as simple as possible, the company relies on Gustav, among other things: the quality and sustainable processing with wooden elements were particularly convincing.
Title image credit: Microsoft Austria