How do you change a traditional space into a place of easy communication? How do you bring employees from different cultures closer? How do you create a space where employees work easily and comfortably? These questions have become familiar challenges for employers.
Sodexo believes that setting the Quality of Life as your target and implementing it at every stage, from design, to managing the space itself and using the correct equipment, is the best way to meet those challenges. The new Sodexo Shanghai office demonstrates to all our clients how an integrated and flexible workplace can improve the employees’ quality of life.
FROM LIMITS TO BEYOND LIMITS
One of the biggest changes we made in our new Sodexo Shanghai office was turning the original multi-floor office space into the current flat structure that is connected by inner stairs. The original office was separated into different floors, but is now an open and free-flowing space making it easier for employees to meet and exchange ideas and thoughts. The first impression for most Sodexo employees after they moved into the new office was: “It is so much easier for us to talk to each other.”
The new Sodexo Shanghai office has also introduced the concept of “Sharing Seats”.Our on-site services are one of the biggest business sections of Sodexo, which means that many employees do not visit the office every day. Therefore, the ratio of seats to on-site employees in the new office is 2:3–three on-site employees who do not need an office desk all the time now share two seats.
This has provided opportunities for our on-site employees to become “neighbors” with their colleagues in other departments as they swap seats through the working week. And those departments which need to work closely together in the office now have the space to sit together in the space that has been freed up.
In another break with tradition, the area where the senior administrative employees sit has been reduced in size and their offices are only separated by glass. So rather than leaving individual offices empty, it is now possible to release more space for more employees, giving every individual more opportunities to communicate with colleagues. The new look also enables senior executives to get to know their teams and interact with a wider group of colleagues.
FLEXIBLE SPACE MAKES AN INSPIRING WORKPLACE
Sylvia METAYER, CEO, Worldwide Corporate Services segment, Sodexo, has explained that although the “one size fits all” model seems more convenient, it does not help in promoting personal engagement and the working performance of employees.
Diversity is more than just a word in Sodexo. Our employees come from five continents and from more than 50 cities across China to make up our varied workforce. But after freeing employees from their enclosed departmental spaces, how can you help them to interact with each other? Our new spacious pantry area covers more than 100 square meters and has been designed so that we can gather all the employees together for all kinds of activities. The area is decorated colorfully and features movable tables and chairs to provide different spaces for discussions and meetings.
There are other dynamic spaces, too. We have included individual telephone booths to respect colleagues’ privacy, working tables with lower drawers that can be used as temporary seats, and training classrooms and tea rooms that feature removable walls for different sizes of group. All these flexible physical structures are the result of innovative ideas to make a better workplace.
These details have broken down the limits created by traditional office space and enabled more practical interactions in our new office. They have promoted communication between different departments and different levels of employees, and have encouraged more effective and open collaboration.
BUILDING A MODEL FOR QUALITY OF LIFE AT WORK
Bruno Vaquette, Country President, Sodexo China, said on the day we moved into our new Shanghai office, “Here is not only a daily working space for Sodexo employees, but also a best performance model for our integrated facilities management service.” From design to operation, Sodexo was determined to showcase the new Shanghai office as a model for improving the Quality of Life in the workplace.
Gina GU, former Shanghai Office Service Manager, Sodexo, said, “The light design, air flow, office equipment, space design, gym equipment, etc., have all been completed with the strong support and active participation of FM platform experts. This is the best demonstration of the Quality of Life that Sodexo has been advocating.”
Harvey HU, an in-house FM expert of Sodexo China , added, “Apart from the gym,room for mothers and infants, training classroom, and other visible spaces and equipment, a good workplace should also be great in other ‘invisible’ ways. For example, limited by the main system design and overall aesthetics, the air sending & returning vents in open-plan floor office ceiling are immovable. Air flow circulation is somehow easily ‘blocked’ among those private workplace with new built partition wall, and then the cooling and heating efficiency is affected. Through installing proper type ventilators above the ceiling, we solve poor air conditioning problem existed there economically and effectively.” This is a good demonstration of how Sodexo strives to improve the Quality of Life in the workplace by using the physical environment in the best way possible.
The six dimensions of Quality of Life can benefit the new working model that embraces cooperation, progress and innovation as its core concepts. Sodexo is integrating the best practices of workplace facilities management to provide a brand new experience for its employees in Shanghai.