Offices in 2030 - Focus on flex-office with Delphine Minchella

Olivier Dardenne
2 min2020-12-01

For this exceptional episode, we take the side of the teacher, researcher and double doctor in Civilization (Sorbonne, 2007) and in Management Sciences (Dauphine, 2015). Delphine Minchella has just published the book "Les entreprises à l'heure du flex-office". In a discussion with Frank Zorn, she gives us her main observations on this method of organising work spaces, which is back in the spotlight following the health crisis.

Why is space a major strategic issue for companies?

"Not choosing is already making a choice. The answer is simple: at any moment in the life of a company, it must ask itself about the space it will provide for its employees.

With the birth of ergonomics and the impressive growth of QWL, the responsibility of companies regarding workspaces is increasingly engaged.

Some companies (notably GAFAMs) even use their headquarters as a real asset and an argument to attract new talent. Today, beyond questions of standards, it is a living environment in which an employee would feel physically and mentally well that is sought.

What about costs?

When moving or making an organisational change, we realise that cost should not be the first factor we think about. It is primarily an opportunity to create a community of employees.

Management and space

With teleworking becoming a corporate practice through this crisis, workspace management is at the heart of the debate. Should we all move to flex-office? Is it simply a reduction in office space? What are the cultural changes that will be brought about?

Flex-office, or the depersonalisation of the office, is a central notion. We are all moving towards an era where the office is less and less personal. This means a reduction in square metres for the company, of course, but it is also accompanied by a cultural change, often linked to greater trust in employees.

Some employees may not be happy with this situation because "The office is the material representation of the employment contract. Before the office, there is the human being at the heart of this change.

How to combine culture and space?

The issue of culture is also closely linked to the work space. The space becomes an employer brand asset in which the company's strategy, culture and management are reflected.

Another notion is important: the hierarchical reading in the space. Traditionally, the higher the employee, the bigger the office. The rise of the flex-office is breaking down these barriers. The phenomenon of territorialisation of spaces will also diminish with flex-office.

The culture of the organisation must be an essential support for a smooth transition from the fixed office to the flex-office, as must the support of employees. It is essential to question the future occupants of the premises and to maintain a dialogue with them, to explain the choices made. Our workspace is not neutral, and employees want to feel involved in it. As long as participatory decision-making is possible, it should be done.

Middle management must also be benevolent and support dialogue so that everyone can find an interest. The flex-office must therefore be thought through intelligently and in collaboration with employees in order to find advantages for all.

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