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People at the heart of workplace planning and redesign

Even before the pandemic forced the hand of organisations to transform their workplaces, we were at work on a redesign our headquarters in Paris to enhance our physical space and services for our people to promote flexible, collaborative and productive workplaces.

The objectives of this project – based in the core principles of Vital Spaces – have answered seamlessly to the unexpected worklife changes of 2020, supporting agile decision-making and the chance to put our capabilities to use in service of our own people. 

A key concept of this redesign is that our employees are the ones drive decisions; they have influence over the everyday spaces that are vital to them, shaping the ways our headquarter can serve them into the future. By co-designing and co-constructing our workplace strategy in this way, we’re creating an environment that helps us attract and retain the talent that moves Sodexo forward. Further, it’s helping us reduce our real estate spending and creating better efficiencies in our physical spaces so they can be used to their fullest. 

Taking people-first objectives to create spaces that inspire

We conducted four months of analysis to closely study our occupancy, looking extensively into how meeting rooms are most used and how often desks are occupied. After a series of interviews, workshops and questionnaires to understand the needs of both individuals and their teams, we learned that workspace efficiency and social responsibility were key areas to address. Following the beginning of the pandemic crisis, additional focus on safety and remote work services was vital.

Our research showed:

  • People are expecting their employer to take actions to reduce their company’s carbon footprint, and also implement processes to allow them to contribute positively on the environment.
  • 92% of employees expect physical distancing measures to be in place.
  • 89% of employees say that contactless payment at work is important.

The analysis pre-covid highlighted that only 50% of open space desks were utilised – and that percentage was even lower with people being in meeting rooms. 

To help people feel productive and happy at work, we needed our physical spaces to enable better knowledge sharing between teams and create sustainable solutions that last into the future. That meant more modularity to our spaces and flexibility across all aspects of work – including using technology to drive functional, effective work.

These needs are cornerstones of the work we’re putting into action. This redesign is an opportunity to transform our headquarters into a living exhibit of the ways we empower employees to thrive whilst also highlighting the value we can bring to clients. By putting in place many of the services we offer clients, we hope space can inspire visitors with examples of what’s possible in their own buildings. 

Enabling more productive, safe and sustainable spaces with Wx 

To transform our spaces to fit the workplace and worklife needs of our people, we reduced our overall space and workstation footprint by 17% whilst adding more variances of spaces, including meeting rooms and individual virtual meeting spaces. With these changes, employees can safely book collaborative yet physically distanced spaces to work together and optimise open area desks that go under-utilised. 

To do this safely, we leveraged Wx solutions's Space eXperience capability, which uses IOT and sensor technology to assess spaces’ true occupancy, manage FM costs and analyse data to prepare and optimise for future shifts in the way our buildings are used.

Because every workstation and meeting room is equipped with a connected sensor, employees can easily see which seats and rooms are available and their sanitary status. On the FM side, we’re able to create the most efficient cleaning schedule based on space use and are immediately notified of unsafe situations with alerts. This has been a positive change, helping identify where social distancing training is needed and minimising the chances of viral exposure in our spaces. 

Advancements like Space eXperience allows us to create rooms in our physical space that span all the ways people work best – whether they need a room specifically for silent work, a room that inspires creativity, coworking areas, project-oriented rooms or open spaces to work in. 

Technology and workplace optimisation also help us implement more sustainable solutions in the most-used areas of our space. 

In spaces like cafés, common food spaces and canteens, we’re doing away with single use coffee cups, using more efficient dishwashers that can complete a wash cycle in only 3 minutes and refurbishing furniture with help from a community rehabilitation project. These examples, alongside other initiatives we’re taking across the HQ redesign, are helping us ensure that the spaces we create are productive, safe and sustainable – both for today and for tomorrow’s world. 

Focusing on employee health – at the office and working remotely

One crucial question in light of the pandemic has been: How can we empower collaboration whilst ensuring employee safety? 

An initial step to solve for this question was to implement the Rise SAFE hygiene verification label – following an audit of our spaces and procedures by Bureau Veritas, we can clearly communicate that our employees and visitors can confidently work in our office spaces. 

We also incorporated contactless services throughout our building that enable better cleaning and fewer points of physical contact. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have adapted connected lockers that can be opened remotely via QR code, and added apps that allow employees to book meeting rooms and desks, order food for delivery and even receive medical consultations on site. These solutions are helping employees move through their day with less friction and with consistent physical distance practices. 

And because our workplaces have evolved and insights say that most employees will continue to work from home, often for 2-3 days in the week, we’re virtualising employee services to help create a consistent, satisfying work experience wherever people do work. Virtual fitness memberships, virtual fundraising cooking classes (organized by our Stop Hunger team and managed by our community on Yammer) and the ability to order food for delivery using their meal pass help employees care for themselves and feel supported at work – to us, that’s invaluable. 

This project is Vital Spaces in action. Through the course of its development, the co-design of our space has continued to prove that the people-centered model and activity-based workspace design can be a solution that transcends trends and challenges of the day. We are excited for the completion of the project in February 2021, when we will be fully operational and able to use our headquarters as our largest live case study of the services possible with Sodexo and Vital Spaces. 

Vital Spaces empowers organisations to transform their workplace and plan for shifting futures.

Read more about Vital Spaces and see how together, we can optimise experiences and spaces with services that enable productivity and connection wherever the work is done.

January 16, 2021

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