Dennis Stolze, Head of Cognitive Environments, Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO in Stuttgart.
Mr Stolze, what do Modern Workplace concepts need to be successful?

In my opinion, it’s a trinity of spatial, technological and organisational factors that we have to consider here. A modern office environment must be designed in such a way that it promotes collaborative exchange while remaining attractive and corporate. High focus is something that is more easily achieved when working from home but should also be possible at the office. Technically well-equipped meeting rooms are the basis for using hybrid formats efficiently. A clear-cut and actively supported corporate culture is another point that can drive innovation. An easily-understandable set of rules allow employees to remain connected, regardless of their working location.

Enough theory. In your opinion, how far have companies and public institutions come?

The Modern Workplace has been a topic of great discussion. When we talk about employer attractiveness, quality of the workplace and the future of the office, I imagine a modern office environment. More and more companies and organisations are using new and collaborative technologies and concepts such as desk sharing. Corporate spaces are becoming more and more like meeting places. At the same time, more processes are being digitalised which has an effect on workplace design.

What effect does this have?

This breaks up old patterns of thinking and provides new office concepts. Companies that are seriously pursuing modern work cultures must take different communication scenarios into account. Most meetings can be held in a hybrid format. If you’re aiming for creativity, or coming up with ideas or innovations, face-to-face meetings are the right choice. Successful Modern Work concepts fulfil the needs of all different types of employees. From the new generation to classic office employees to field service to leadership. The requirements posed by modern work structures vary greatly depending on the target group. Deadlocked employment patterns are increasingly dissolving.

When it comes to Modern Workplace, I recommend taking small steps to get you going instead of getting stuck too long on finding the perfect solution.

Dennis Stolze

How can we take the right steps?

From my perspective, it’s best that those shaping change receive a proper roadmap. An initial vision or parameter workshop with leadership can be used to define how far the topic of Modern Work can be developed in the future. Using an online survey, you can define how well the different types of employees work with different setups. Accompanying workshops with the various departments can help find the technologies suited for  specific work scenarios.

And then? What will work look like in the near future?

New methods of collaboration require organisational concepts to keep them innovative. Immersive technologies such as augmented and virtual reality are moving to the forefront. Psychological factors are becoming more important – How should a room be laid out to be as creative, concentrated and relaxing as possible? Referred to as cognitive environments, companies are creating spaces that leverage IoT and smart technology to recognise what situation the employees are in and automatically transform to suit these needs.

Modern Work concepts are geared towards employee needs. How do organisations as a whole benefit from this change?

In the race for talent that is currently in full bloom and getting increasingly competitive, modern concepts can help companies take the pole position. Employees have come to expect an environment that supports hybrid work. Agile working is motivating and can be a huge asset for companies. This new way of organising work also requires a lot less office space. Energy consumption can be reduced while boosting the quality of offices at the same time. Modern booking systems that enable concepts such as co-working and desk-sharing can play a central role in this process. Companies that keep an eye on technological developments, while progressing their mindset and organisational culture, can really gain a competitive edge.