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What Does the Workplace of the Future Look Like?

The way we work has changed dramatically in the last two years. Video calls, online meetings, virtual collaboration – these are all things that we have since gotten used to. The question is: How will we be working from now on, after two years of pandemic?

What would our workplace look like if the Covid-19 pandemic had never occurred? Many of us would not question getting to the office by train, tram, or bicycle every morning – maybe cursing to our­selves while sitting in a traffic jam, even before reading through the first email of the day. Many of us would not dare to do a conference call while taking a walk. But here we are, after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic: navigating an entirely different landscape.

A large proportion of the staff has been working from home for the last two years – at least partially. Even creative processes such as brainstorming or the informal exchange of information (formerly the “office grapevine”) were almost exclusively digital. Today, we are increasingly asking ourselves the question: How will we be working from now on?

“New Work” is the expression du jour. It denotes precisely this change to the working environment taking place in times of globalization and digitalization – change that has been greatly accelerated by Covid-19. SIX has been weighing the benefits and opportunities of New Work for some time now. One thing is now clear: The workplace we knew before the pandemic is a thing of the past. It made way for new ways of working, mindful of employees’ needs, changing customer demands and technology that enables new ways of collaboration. SIX wants to drive this evolution and is deve­loping its own path to hybrid work.

Employees have been able to draw many positives from the experience of past two years’ remote working: better focus, more flexibility, no commuting time, more peace and quiet, more independence, and less supervision. But being mostly at home over a long period of time also comes with downsides. Some have felt isolated, others were overwhelmed by the many online meetings, or stressed from the feeling of having to be available at all times. One can’t fully foresee how the challenges of the new, post-pandemic workplace will look like, but one thing is clear: the new work model at SIX will expand on the positive qualities, while trying to find the best-possible solutions to the negative ones.

However, “New Work” is more than just a hybrid work model. Having fewer people in the office means that office layouts have to be re­de­signed. Work spaces are increasingly moving away from assigned individual offices, and instead implementing an activity- based working model. That goes far beyond garishly painted walls and football tables. The activity- based working model actually refers to setting up offices to meet the needs of the teams that will be working within them. It means, for example, having more meeting areas and meeting rooms for teams that interact with each other often – and more quiet areas for employees who have to work largely alone with a high level of concentration.

This new working world has another nice side-effect: it is good for the climate. Working from home elimi­nates one of the greatest sources of pollution associated with work: commuting. This is particularly true in Switzerland, where the vast majority of the workforce travel to their jobs by car.* If commuting is reduced and office spaces can be used more efficiently, the climate will benefit.

New Work is not a project that a company can simply complete. Rather, it is a constantly changing process that requires a great deal of flexibility and adaptability. That’s why SIX always strives to develop optimal solutions and respond quickly to new challenges. For the working world of tomorrow.

* Source: Federal Statistical Office: https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/en/home/statistics/mobility-transport/passenger-transport/commuting.html