After two years of the home office, companies struggle to get employees to come back to the office. Afraid of missing out on good ideas that come out of spontaneous meetings, many companies seek to redesign their premises to match better the new ways of working when employees arrive at the office. So, the big question right now is: How can companies make the office experience so great for employees that they enjoy coming back to the office more often?
O2 Telefónica identified early that the old office design and fixed desks were not suitable for the new world of hybrid working. Therefore, the company has redesigned in a pilot the three top floors of its prestigious office in the O2 Tower in Munich. The challenge was the right mix of design elements and furniture choices in a way that would support activity-based working. Furthermore, to evaluate the employees’ usage and preferences before scaling the design to the rest of the building, the O2 Telefónica facility management and real estate team decided to take Haltian Empathic Building smart office solution into use to collect anonymous utilization data and make educated decisions.
The Empathic Building smart office solution is a tool for great user experience in the new normal of working, it helps to manage activity-based working and enables facility managers to evaluate the office design and furniture based on data at the O2 Telefónica office.
Haltian Empathic Building solution includes a digital twin of the office. People can see the free areas, rooms, and desks, find their colleagues, choose the correct zone to work in, get ad-hoc information, and provide feedback. In addition, the Empathic Building includes occupancy and air quality information for the facility management team and enables on-demand cleaning.
“Offering flexible working environments is a significant aspect of improving the office experience”, says Peyman Blumstengel from Haltian. “In activity-based working, people can choose their working environment according to their needs. For example, you can choose a desk in a quiet area for focused work at the start of the day, later search for the colleague you need to align with, occupy a free desk next to them, or work in a teamwork space. And if you need to have a soundproof environment for a call, find the next free booth easily on your floor or in the building”.
“Creating all kinds of new spaces in the office is a fantastic idea, but companies don’t have endless amounts of space to use. When you change to activity-based working, you can reduce the number of allocated desks and free space for other things”, Blumstengel explains. “Originally, many facility managers were excited to reduce office costs in a hybrid working environment. However, now many companies have realized the old office models are no longer alluring to employees after two years of working from their cozy homes”. According to Blumstengel, companies are now using the freed office space to create a clubhouse effect, where people are eager to hang out. Here’s where an intelligent office tool becomes useful. “With Empathic Building facility managers can both manage activity-based work and the facility department can get valuable, real-time usage data to evaluate which spaces are attractive and where a redesign or reallocation of resources is required,” Blumstengel explains.
It’s these use cases that O2 Telefónica is now evaluating at their head office. “We want to evaluate different smart office use cases and make data-based decisions on how to best design our office space,” Rainer Huff, head of the workplace strategy from O2 Telefónica says. The O2 tower office is moving to activity-based working after the long COVID period, so the timing to take on the Empathic Building was just right. “Empathic Building makes managing both hybrid work and activity-based working a lot easier. The capability to make ad-hoc changes and communicate with the users without any software developments is one of the best things about Empathic Building”, he continues.
The WAYRA 5G innovation lab of O2 Telefónica also uses Empathic Building to manage the co-working process among the start-ups involved. Watch the video with Peyman Blumstengel from Haltian talking about the new normal of working.