Employees design the workplace of the future – TechCrunch


Why are we going to the office?

This is not a rhetorical question. Are we going to be surrounded by other people and work together? Do we go there because it’s a dedicated place that allows us to focus on our work in a unique way? Do we go because we believe it is necessary to be “seen”? Shall we go cause we are fair Assumed, because that’s what we’ve always done?

At SAP, it’s important not only that we find answers to these questions, but that our people play a role in answering them and building the hybrid workplace of the future.

Again this summer, we launched a brand new hybrid work pilot program in our Palo Alto office. For months, we tested different floor plans and configurations, a variety of work schedules, the most productive uses of space, and the ideal structure and composition for meetings. We also offer training, authorizations and much more for managers and leaders, adapted to this new world.

What have we learned? And how can you apply some of the lessons to your business?

Getting to work: what our employees have to say

Early employee feedback – before and during the early stages of the pilot program – showed that there was a demand for a high-usage, high-energy workspace. We just had to find a way to build it so that people could use it not only when they needed it, but when they wanted it. So what factors would make people want to come to the office?

Our research found four main factors:

Peer-to-peer learningOur employees are passionate about building their network, and many cited peer learning as an opportunity to quickly advance their careers and learn how SAP builds and innovates on its products.

While the majority of our onboarding, training and learning opportunities still take place virtually, we are now exploring hybrid options to give employees the ability to meet in person if they wish.

CollaborationIf COVID allows it, many people are looking for in-person interaction, our research shows. Video calling can be functional, but nothing matches the ability to sit around the table and think, learn, and grow together.

Collaboration has been a major driving force for the employees participating in the Hybrid Work Pilot Program. We see a wide variety of our employees using whiteboards and sharing screens to solve complex problems together. The key is to ensure that they are in a space equipped with high quality video and audio equipment so that physically present and remote team members can be involved as well.

Community constructionMeetings at all levels, question-and-answer sessions, and other team-building events all play out differently when you’re all in the same physical space. Many employees we interviewed mentioned semi-regular meetings as obvious perks of being in the office.

We’ve just started experimenting with hosting employee events in our physical offices, and they’re very different than they used to be – smaller, outdoors, and with COVID precautions in place. Before our first event, we asked ourselves: will the employees want to come? The answer was, overwhelmingly, yes.

We opened a registration for an employee meeting and within minutes the registration was complete, with double the amount on a waiting list. The energy on the day of the meeting was palpable and the feedback from the employees was very positive – they were delighted to meet again.

IntentionA lot of people have told us that they simply miss their office routine. For some, having the opportunity to get dressed in the morning, drive to work, and sit at a desk with team members provides unparalleled productivity and focus.

Not all employees come to the office for teamwork and community. Some simply prefer to separate their personal and work spaces and seek quiet individual areas where they are most productive. Open collaboration spaces are essential in the office, as are quiet areas and phone booths.

One way we’ve tried to put these attributes into action is through melee quarters in our physical offices. The environments are designed with 15-20 desks available, set up in beautiful and creative office spaces, designed to foster collaboration and teamwork. We even created a mobile app to help achieve high space usage. Teams can use the app to coordinate when they travel to the office together and reserve spaces and phone rooms.

At the same time, we worked with our leaders to enable them to better manage our new reality, avoiding prejudices and transforming the traditional manager-employee relationship into a more human and empathetic one.

The first lessons of the pilot program

This is just the beginning. Although the pilot program itself is well advanced, we will not stop studying and testing the best ways to promote and optimize hybrid work for our employees in the future.

We have found that 80% of our employees want a mix of home and office work in the future. We also found that 80% intend to live relatively close to an office.

Still, many are uncomfortable going back to this particular moment. For those who came to the office during the pilot, however, many specifically cited the peace and quiet of an office work environment, the productivity of in-person meetings, and amenities (such as coffee, snacks, and hospitality). free lunch) as notable perks. . In addition, our leaders and managers feel better prepared to lead and manage in this environment, based on the communities of practice that we have developed with them.

With a “normal” likely to never come back completely, we must remain engaged in continuous experimentation and soul-searching to determine what works and what does not. Because the hybrid working model cannot only be successful in theory; he must be successful in practice.

For example, we have found that many employees have grown accustomed to being able to significantly change their working hours over the past year, whether it is working early in the morning or late at night to accommodate home and family life, and that eliminating a commute and an office has been a great adjustment for some of our team. Conversely, some previously in-person initiatives still need to be redesigned to improve overall delivery and reach – and make the employee experience more inclusive, regardless of location.

The questions we must ask ourselves are clear. Now we just have to find our way to the answers.

And after? Use the “why” to find the “how”

At the same time, 2020 has managed to pause and move quickly into our working realities, a contradiction that many of us are still learning to manage and operate within ourselves. We hope that the lessons from our Hybrid Work pilot program can help inform the future of the office and productivity in this context, while enabling our employees and leaders to navigate these changes. In 2022, the results of our pilot program will help inform our global flexible working policies, giving regions of the world a baseline for determining what is best for them.

There is no better time to think about the answers than now. So join us. Turn your “why” into “how” and empower your employees to build the workplace of the future.


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