Do you remember the first day of school? Most of us do. When the big day arrived, we went there with a lot of expectations and a lot of butterflies in our stomachs. We were nervous and excited at the same time when we entered the classroom. But there it was - a chair and a desk with a nameplate showing us where to sit. Suddenly we felt comfortable, we felt welcomed and we knew the name of our classmates. There was a framework and a way of behaving. It made us feel safe, part of the group.
Today’s innovative companies don’t provide you with your own office with a nameplate at the door. You are not tied to a single desk or work all by yourself behind a closed door. Why? Because this kind of fixed framework sets limits. Nordea has been changing its way of working for a couple of years now. In 2013 we started to change the way we sit. Instead of having a fixed place of your own, we opened the landscape up and let everyone sit everywhere. We knew collaboration and knowledge sharing was the key to the future. We wanted to create a place to collaborate and act out our aspirations – to create a great place to work. That is why we design workplaces so our employees can do their best. We provide different working environments to encourage our employees to be innovative and create great results. Employees are no longer tied to a single desk or enclosed behind a door. They can work from anywhere at any time – they choose by themselves. They have their own preferences. Because we want Nordea to be a workplace of the future.
I understand changes can be hard. When I started working activity-based I came to the office, found a desk, put down my bag and then left for meetings all day. I camped. After some weeks I suddenly started looking at my own behaviour. How could I be a role model for the new ways of working, when I started the day by marking my territory? The change starts with you.
When Nordea brings down the walls and asks our employees to be nomads, we are creating uncertainty. At the same time we want our employees to recapture that feeling from the first day of school. We want them to feel comfortable and welcomed. So we have embraced all of that by involving every employee on the journey. We have accommodated their working behaviour, listened to the uncertainty, guided and become involved. It has been a respectful journey. Gladly, recent surveys have shown us that our employees are embracing the new way of working. This new workplace environment makes us bring down silos and create collaboration. And it works. Together we are creating a great place to work.
Now we are keen on seeing what the next step is. Will the Workplace of the Future be designed by technological change and/or by changing our thinking and attitudes? What do you think? We know now that we are prepared for it.
/Trine Thorn, Workplace Management DK
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