The Leader Magazine

SEP 2018

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28 September 2018 the leader F E A T U R E A R T I C L E by Jan Zesach and Iolanda Meehan Creating a positive workplace experience Novartis' journey towards activity-based working H ow can we build a workplace that helps us manage the complexity of our industry, engage employees, attract talent and embrace diversity, while being sustainable and at the forefront of technology? These were some of the questions that brought Novartis to engage with activity-based working (ABW) consultancy Veldhoen + Company. Over the past four years, Novartis and Veldhoen have partnered in Europe and Asia to implement ABW in a uniquely customised way, one that reflects the company's history, strategy and vision. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis has three main business divisions: Innovative Medicines develops products that are pioneering in their therapeutic areas; Alcon specialises in ophthalmology; and Sandoz is a leading provider of prescription and over-the-counter medicines. For Novartis, the working environment has to offer flexibility for constantly changing work patterns, agility for collaboration and learning, employee well-being, and efficiency. ABW offers solutions for all of these. a shared environment At its core, ABW is a philosophy that brings the 'private home' concept of different spaces for different activities – such as eating in the kitchen, relaxing in the living room, sleeping in the bedroom – into the workplace. By accommodating daily work activities in spaces that are purpose-designed, companies can reinforce their culture with increased engagement and a more inclusive behaviour, and with greater space efficiency. A central principle is that the work space is a shared team environment that supports individual and team activities instead of employees having their own assigned space. As a science-based company, Novartis naturally took a scientific approach to implementing ABW. There were a number of pilots in several markets followed by a rollout that began with Australia in 2015. This project led to the creation of guiding principles that can be applied globally and are now being implemented in France, Germany, Sweden and the Philippines. Creating new office norms and behaviours The redesign involves completely re-thinking not only the physical space, but how managers and associates are going to use it. The three elements are space, technology and behaviours/ culture. The design is a radical departure from the workspace most people still work in. Meeting rooms are now primarily placed in the core and workstations as close to daylight as possible. Staircases connect different floors so that associates bump into each other and share ideas ad hoc. There are 'villages' for groups of teams and 'plazas' for collaboration between departments and the outside world. Blending design elements from traditional commercial office layouts, that tend to be driven by the corporate real estate matrix, with elements from the hotel and hospitality industry will help create an environment where people like to come to, feel comfortable in, and are proud to work in. Changing behaviour and creating new norms and expectations for how employees interact and spend their time in the new environment require active involvement, commitment, and role-modelling of senior management. The holistic space, technology and behaviour/ culture approach is an essential element of the change management to make the transformation successful. l essons learned, challenges faced In this process, we learned that office etiquette and commitment to the new way of working require an end-to-end, change- management approach during the transition as well as after the move (and, for new associates joining the organisation, at a later stage). In some countries it is the norm that the size of your office defines your status and influence. In others, the supervisor has a larger desk that overlooks the associates. All these ways of working have to change. Receiving input, support and feedback from all employees at all levels of the organisation throughout the process is essential. Engaging people-managers is what really made it happen. We began to practice the new behaviours three months before the move into the new facilities. We learned many things about the incredible diversity within Novartis, which has so many layers. It includes people and culture, corporate and divisional culture, the norms, the hierarchy, and the policies and procedures. We had to be mindful when co-locating everyone in the same office, as a blanket solution can only take you so far. Each time you implement ABW you have to understand and accommodate these diversities. We learned that you must have enough space where people can do focused work; it is critical that employees can work quietly and individually when they need to. The space also must be appropriately sized so that it's not too large and overwhelming. And, we must properly enforce the etiquette of the focused areas, such as eliminating loud phone calls when there are other, more appropriate spaces designed for that purpose. Lining up the right technology and smart applications (OneNote, Skype, FindMe, AirMedia, and Meeting Room Booking), training on key systems, employing sensors to measure utilization, and integrating facilities management

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