How do you design flexible workspace to deal with hybrid working patterns? How can organisations maintain workplace culture when employees spend most of their time working remotely?
These were key issues for technolgoy company Forte Digital when creating their new workspace. Working with Flokk, Forte transformed seven floors an historic building in Oslo city into their stunning new headquarters. An office space to match the growing ambitions and hybrid work schedule.
“I usually work with my clients most of the week.” Say’s Vilde Almestad, a Developer at Forte. “By doing this, we can provide better service to our clients by using each other's expertise and experience. Right now, I'm focusing my efforts on an exciting e-commerce project, which involves developing a robust online platform that will allow our client to sell their products and services. Even though my clients are my top priority, I use digital communication tools to stay in touch with my colleagues at Forte whenever I need to.”
Like Vilde, many of Forte’s staff work remotely, often located at their clients’ offices to enable better cooperation. Only a handful of staff remain working from Forte’s office on a daily basis – the accounting department, HR, and upper management – and even they are allowed to work from home a certain number of days a week.
“We knew when we designed this office we won’t have desks for everyone,” says Celin Frølich Lund, HR Manager at Forte and part of the in-house team who managed the design project. “180 people work full time at Forte, and we only have about 50 permanent desks.”
Having 180 permanent desks would be a poor use of space, but it would also make the office feel empty. Instead, there is a range of meeting rooms, workshop rooms, and flexible open-plan spaces that can be quickly adapted to accommodate every employee during Forte’s biweekly “Competence Days”.
Vilde; “Competence Day happens every second Thursday. We get to listen to talks from internal and external speakers covering relevant topics. We also have the opportunity to give a relevant talk ourselves on something we're interested in or have experience with from current or previous projects.”
Competence day is a way for Forte to maintain a sense of community within the company. Part collaboration, part culture building, it brings all employees together to learn and socialise. Their new workspace was a crucial element of this activity.
Celin: “The idea was to create a new headquarters that we can call Forte’s home, to make employees feel like they are coming back “home” as they normally spend most of their time at the client's offices. On Competence Days we meet up in groups of different sizes. The biggest groups get the whole cafeteria, and our various meeting and open spaces are used by the other groups.”
Several of these meeting rooms are equipped with ergonomic seating, which allows them to be utilised as focus workspaces when needed, or for extended sitting. The rest of the interior is tastefully decorated and furnished, to create a homely aesthetic.
Vilde; “What I love about the new Forte office is how friendly and cozy the atmosphere feels for everyone, whether you're an employee or a visitor. They've done a great job with the decoration, making it a relaxing and positive environment to work in. The furniture is comfy, the lighting is good, and the workstations have everything we need to get work done. The open layout encourages collaboration and communication among employees. People from different departments can work together and share ideas, creating a strong team culture. There are also several spaces where employees can take a break and recharge, making it an ideal environment for both work and relaxation.”
Aside from these fortnightly meetings, Forte have incorporated a range of aspects to encourage people into the office. An onsite cafeteria serves daily meals for all employees and yoga classes operate in the mornings - both of which encourage socialisation and mingling across departments. A basement gym is also open seven days a week for all employees. The flexible workspace design also allows various social clubs to take place in the evenings, for both staff and clients alike.
Celin; “Of course, the main reason people come to the office is to work, and we have created a workspace to fill this need. But what we really needed was a place that everyone could call home. As our company grows - and our employees work further apart – it was crucial to create a welcoming, warm environment where our employees wanted to be, and where they could reconnect with the values of Forte, helping us to build our brand together.”
Today's distributed and diverse way of working is completely changing the office experience. Flexibility in working practices requires a more dynamic, flexible workplace design, allowing companies to enhance employee experiences whilst creating lasting business advantages. Flokk is helping businesses unlock their workplace potential, offering advice and expertise in helping you choose the right seating for your workspace.
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