As the modern workplace evolves, desk sharing has become a popular workplace concept embraced by companies seeking to optimize space, foster collaboration, and accommodate the changing needs of employees. This article delves into real-life case studies of companies that have successfully implemented desk sharing, exploring the key factors that contributed to their success.
Acknowledging the Change in Needs
To effectively implement desk sharing, it is crucial for companies to acknowledge the changing needs and preferences of their workforce. Andreas Gnesda, managing director of teamgnesda and a workplace strategist, emphasizes this point:
"The last two years have completely turned the topic of the office upside down...employees want to work remotely for at least two to three working days per week."
It is important to approach this transition with empathy and understand the emotional needs people have when moving to a shared desk concept. Christian Pistauer, Co-Founder of Gustav says: "It is important that the management is fully behind the solution and then practices it itself - no open offices with individual rooms for the executive floor. The transformation towards desk sharing and more flexibility can happen in small steps, but it must be well thought out and not half-hearted."
Hutchison Drei Austria GmbH, a telecommunications company, recognized the significance of a physical meeting place even amidst the rise of mobile working. They reduced fixed workstations from 1500 to 900, adopting a desk-sharing model where each department had exclusive team zones.
Matthias Krumpel, Team Leader Facility Management at Hutchison Drei, highlighted, "For us, an office is a place where people should feel comfortable. During the pandemic, we switched to mobile working and are now increasingly using this option.
"Our employees like to go to the office: for personal exchange and social interaction and cohesion, a physical meeting place is simply essential. "
Designing the Office to Fit the New Purpose
So, what does a desk sharing office look like? Creating a workspace that aligns with the new concept is essential for desk sharing success. Sabine Zinke, an expert in organizational planning and change management, states,
"Especially in times of hybrid forms of work, the energy crisis and various sustainability discussions, the question arises whether you still need large office spaces or whether you'd rather create spaces for collaboration and provide retreats for those who want to work in peace."
"The office must be a place of encounter...away from contemplative workspaces and toward collaborative, communicative work."
As an architect and workplace strategist, Christian Pistauer, Co-Founder of Gustav explains his approach:
"Workplaces must be viewed holistically: People, Place and Technology. I look at how the work environment, the technology and tools are and how the people in a company behave. Then I ask the question: What rules of the game need to be set in order to bring these three fields together and develop a strategy that fits the company?
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Invest in the solution: Tools and Furniture
The new needs arising through desk sharing means we need to rethink the office. That includes investing in equipment as well as furniture fit for this purpose. Some great tools and equipment exist that clearly are designed for people in desk sharing offices.
Christian, shared his journey when designing Gustav: "The idea of finding a solution to this problem...stuck with me...a tool for the new office concepts that would make it easy to take all the things lying around the office with you."
AOP Orphan Pharmaceuticals GmbH ("AOP Health"), an Austrian pharmaceutical company, embraced this approach. Their employees shared workspaces on a daily basis, and Gustav, an innovative office toolbox, facilitated their agile work approach. Sabine Pitterle, Group Lead Car Fleet & Office Management at AOP Health, explained, "Gustav not only helps with transporting work equipment but also contributes to communicating the topic of Desk Sharing/New Work in a playful and creative way."
ASFINAG, the Austrian infrastructure company, implemented desk sharing effectively by providing practical solutions like Gustav. They recognized the need to invest in tools and furniture to support the desk-sharing model, making it easier for employees to embrace the new concept.
“With this new concept, the question naturally arose as to where to store one's personal and work utensils. Together with our consultants, we looked for toolboxes in the context of locker solutions that would make this possible. And we found Gustav.
"The design was convincing; you don't have to change anything and can use Gustav as it is in everyday working life.”
Equipping the office with the right tools and furniture is a crucial aspect of desk sharing success. Gustav's innovative design plays a significant role in facilitating this transition. Sabine Pitterle of AOP Health acknowledged, "Especially when I don't have a fixed place to work...Gustav is a way to keep my workplace reasonably tidy."
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Leading by Example
Leadership plays a pivotal role in the successful implementation of desk sharing. Executives and managers must actively embrace the new way of working and promote a culture of collaboration and flexibility. Christian emphasizes the importance of this leadership support:
"The transformation towards desk sharing and more flexibility can happen in small steps, but it must be well thought out and not half-hearted."
Leading by example encourages employees to adapt to shared workspaces more effectively.
Conclusion: Desk Sharing Success
In conclusion, desk sharing success relies on several key factors highlighted by real-life examples. By acknowledging the changing needs of employees, designing the office to align with the new purpose, having a robust change management concept, investing in the right tools and furniture, and leading by example, companies can create productive and collaborative work environments.
The experiences of Hutchison Drei Austria GmbH, AOP Orphan Pharmaceuticals GmbH ("AOP Health"), and ASFINAG serve as valuable lessons for other organizations looking to implement desk sharing effectively. Additionally, insights from experts like Andreas Gnesda and Christian Pistauer shed light on the significance of leadership support and change management strategies in this transformation.
As the modern workplace continues to evolve, embracing desk sharing and the factors that contribute to its success can lead to increased productivity, improved collaboration, and a positive work culture. The journey towards shared workspaces is an opportunity for companies to adapt to the changing landscape and foster a more agile and engaging work environment for their employees.
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