New work: new working methods, new workspaces
New work breaks down rigid structures to achieve maximum flexibility. This development shapes the way we work together, and also the design of workspaces and infrastructure. Roland Spycher, Head of Real Estate Management at PostFinance, talks about the key aspects.
What role does new work play in your area of responsibility?
New work is having a major impact on the way work is carried out in many areas. At PostFinance, for example, many more people are now working in interdisciplinary project teams. The proportion of employees working from home has soared due to the pandemic and will play a significant role in the long term. This makes remote work increasingly important. As a result, the requirements for workspace and infrastructure at PostFinance premises are changing significantly: it is no longer primarily a question of individual workstations, but increasingly about the working environment. My “Space Development” team and I are working to create modern and flexible working environments with new workplace concepts that focus on the new requirements, enabling employees to perform their tasks optimally.
What do these spatial concepts look like?
Depending on the individual needs of each area, there can be different zones for various types of work and activities:
- Creative zones: these promote creative interaction – with the kind of seating you might see in a living room, for example.
- Focus zones: These are highly conducive to work requiring great concentration – with “phone booths”, for example, or defined areas where people are not allowed to talk.
- Project zones: these support flexible project work. These areas are equipped with mobile furniture and accessories or lockable rooms and “kitchen tables” where larger groups can work together.
- Recreation zones: these allow you to recharge your batteries – for example, in relaxation rooms or, in some cases, fitness rooms.
- Socializing zones: this is where people meet informally – in the coffee/tea lounge, in a gaming room, at the ping-pong table or the table-football table, in the staff restaurant or at the cafeteria.
To what extent are these new work concepts advantageous?
The flexible workplace concept, which has been in use for around six years, fosters communication, collaboration and knowledge-sharing between employees. The goal is to replace the silo mentality with interdisciplinary teamwork. And an attractive working environment makes PostFinance an appealing employer – including to “young” talent.
What does PostFinance place particular emphasis on when designing its workspaces?
They allow us to provide a working environment that is tailored to the different needs of the individual areas or teams. Controlling, for example, has very different requirements compared to a team responsible for web application development. Project teams working in an agile manner, for example, often need areas that they can rearrange flexibly as required in the shortest possible time. One of these areas might have a presentation arena, for example, as well as spaces for group work. Our employees should work in a spacious and modern environment, with sufficient space and optimum ergonomic conditions, such as lighting, ventilation and acoustics, as well as the right technical infrastructure.
To what extent has the coronavirus crisis changed the internal discussion about workstations and workspaces?
I think we can all agree that the coronavirus crisis has massively accelerated the move towards remote working. We now need to determine what level of remote working, particularly home office, can be sustained in the long term. Here, too, individual solutions will apply for the different teams. We assume that the proportion will be 40 to 60 percent of the time. This, of course, will have an impact on the demand for workspace as well as its design. This will need to be taken into account during future planning and when defining the available space.
What role is played by new project spaces, such as the PostFinance Hub at PostParc in Bern?
As part of our new workspace strategy, we are providing our employees with new options for remote working. The project spaces at PostParc in Bern are an example of this: the PostParc spaces allow for flexible and modular design, and are easily accessible by public transport thanks to their proximity to the train station. Similar spaces are also being built in Zurich Oerlikon and in larger administrative buildings used by PostFinance throughout Switzerland.
As Head of Real Estate Management, Roland Spycher is responsible for planning, implementing and operating 110 PostFinance locations as well as managing a real estate portfolio with 20 properties. He leads the three teams for space development, building management and real estate portfolio.