The new way of working is, of course, no longer new. In recent years, companies have been busy rolling out programmes that fit in with the new way of working. In fact, research by Toogethr shows that large companies are now accelerating earlier developments in order to optimally respond to the changing needs of their employees. We asked Mathijs Schaft, Facility Manager at the Heineken International corporate office, how his company is addressing the workplace of the future.
From a traditional work environment to a flexible work situation
In most companies, the new way of working is taking shape. Depending on the way in which traditions are embedded in the existing work culture, the speed of this process varies. Heineken is a good example.
Although the business suit has now given way to more informal attire, one of the world's largest breweries is still in the process of transforming its working environments. A first step was taken in 2018 with the so-called Project Universe. "The central question at that time was which activities took place in the office and which workplace environment would be required to facilitate employees optimally," Mathijs explains. "The pilot showed positive results, especially in the areas of cooperation and flexible use of the office. After the Executive Board approved this as the way forward, we have further refined the working method and function of the office in recent years."
The end result of this process came together with the opening of new offices at Schiphol. What it will look like in practise is still some time away, as the building had to close two weeks after it opened on 1 March 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.
Future Workplace high on the agenda
Although the new way of working has become a regular item on Heineken's agenda, Mathijs indicates that there is now even greater urgency to implement the proposed changes more quickly. "I think we've seen clearly in the past year that we are perfectly capable of delivering the same or even more output when working from home. That is why we have decided to accelerate our research into what activities are suitable for the office and what employees can easily do at home. In short, working towards a flexible work situation that the individual and the manager can agree on together to help our people the best we can, more than just a beer on Friday afternoon."
We have been able to switch to a lean and mean organisation that is purely output-based.
The role of the Heineken offices after COVID
Research by Toogethr, conducted by Ruigrok NetPanel, shows that employees of large companies will soon want to go to the office for only 2.8 days a week on average, compared to the current average of 4.2 days. In the future, the office’s most important role will be as a place to confer with colleagues. Mathijs agrees that Heineken is also going along with this development, without losing sight of the focus on the office as a workplace. "If I look purely at the office environment itself, I see two extremes. You can choose to replace all your workstations with standing tables, making the office the ultimate place to meet and discuss things with each other. Or you can rent even more space to facilitate your people even better, also with a view to social distancing. Personally, I think Heineken will be somewhere in between."
Sustainability and the use of office space
Sustainability is one of the most important pillars within Heineken. According to Mathijs, the optimal use of existing offices and office space is crucial to make sustainability a tangible concept within the organisation. "Why go to the office at all? And if I do go to the office, what would be the best place to meet someone and how do I get there? Our 'mobility' project group will be seeking answers to these questions. That also answers the question of how many more work stations we will need and whether we shouldn’t instead have many more flexible workplaces. And I foresee that we will be using our offices much more as hubs.’
For which activities do employees really need to make that trip to the office?
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