Co-working – what the heck?

Column: Ruggero Crameri, Future Work Experience Developer, Swisscom

Co-working – what the heck?

Open Space, Free Seating, Shared Desk – die Buzzwords klingen geschwollen, dabei ist die Umsetzung recht simpel.

Text: Ruggero Crameri,

New work concepts such as co-working, agile collaboration, design thinking and fancy work spaces are very popular right now. But when, and how, did our journey toward modern work concepts and new space design actually begin?

I remember it very clearly. Eight years ago we launched a project at Swisscom with the goal of moving closer together in order to use our space resources more efficiently. This was because many employees were already working on the move or from home, or were only in the office on a part-time basis. The idea was that whoever spends less than 70 per cent of their working hours in the office is not entitled to a fixed desk. So we had to make the move from a fixed workplace to a shared desk, and from individual offices to an open space.

There was a wave of indignation throughout the office. For the first time, there were fewer workplaces than employees. But was this really so bad?

Certainly many employees had to make major adjustments. Everywhere one looked: folders, books and personal effects were piling up. All of the paper involved didn’t make this “free seating” any easier. It was time to tidy up and go digital.

As I’m writing this now, I notice a purple cardboard stand on the shared desk. This is a perfect example of how employees have started taking control of the changing situation. They have recognised the value that is added when they share their workplace. They have even moved of their own accord in order to be able to talk to different people for a change. And the framed family photo that used to be on the stand on their desk is now in front of them at all times on their own screen.

What does this tell us? As soon as it had been specified by top management, our transition to flexible workspaces set a change in motion. Of course, every change is initially followed by a slump, but this soon develops into an improvement for everyone – sooner or later – depending on the implementation. The employees start internalising the flow and reinventing themselves. To the benefit of everyone.

The moral of the story: it’s not so difficult to adapt. While people are creatures of habit, we still adjust fairly quickly to new conditions. And we ultimately develop these conditions to suit our requirements. It just comes down to each individual’s approach, and of course the willingness of the company to embrace change sustainably and support it.

Ruggero Crameri has supported Swisscom on the way to unlimited collaboration for many years. He passionately helps organisations and their employees as they discover new, smart working worlds.

His goal: to make life easier for people while also creating benefits for companies. Ruggero and his team are inventing the workplace concepts of tomorrow, challenging generations and rewriting the rulebook.

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