Agile work
Collaboration tools open up new horizons for Swiss companies



Half of all Swiss employees would be able to perform their work on a mobile basis. A study carried out by Deloitte reached this conclusion. According to the same study, freelancing is a current trend. 25 percent of all Swiss working-aged people pursue project-based, temporary work and the more mobile and independently they work, the less important classic offices become. In their place, home offices and co-working and cloud-working structures are gaining in importance. However, they function only with high-performance information and communications technologies that can be used at any location.

 

All employees are present at the same time in very few companies. Some work from home, others are visiting customers, and some are ill. So why spend money on large office spaces if you can get by with less? Collaboration tools are allowing many innovative companies to use what is referred to as the non-territorial office concept. That means employees can choose their desks in an open office landscape instead of having fixed workspaces. Everyone can sit where they want. At home, too. That increases space efficiency and reduces costs. It's no surprise more and more medium-sized Swiss are rethinking their existing structures. In the end, working environments that are spatially flexible and can be organized as needed make working methods more agile as well.

 

More than 150 Swiss companies have signed the Work Smart initiative since 2015 and have committed themselves to promoting flexible workspace models. Sunrise is one of them. Most of these companies make it possible for their employees to work from home or in co-working spaces. The specialists at Deloitte who carried out the study agree that freelancers offer companies greater flexibility and lower costs. That is especially important for start-ups, which often only need special expertise for specific projects. However, freelancers also give SMEs the chance to bring additional knowledge to their companies without increasing fixed costs by co-working or cloud-working, for instance.


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Flexible use of co-working

Co-working designates a collaboration among freelancers and smaller start-ups from a wide range of sectors. They usually rent working space in larger, open rooms and either work independently and share only the infrastructure or push temporary innovative projects forward together. To do so, they rent co-working spaces. Most co-working offices can be rented for a daily, weekly, or monthly rate. In some shared offices, people have their own desk with a postal address and phone, and in others they choose a new spot every day. Rental costs usually include a desk as well as (fair) use of WLAN, a kitchen, conference room, and printer.

Cloud-working instead of costly team building

Many tasks can be performed more efficiently and quickly by experts in the global community. In the cloud, employees can work together with a virtual team of service providers and documents and follow changes live. They can also monitor, inspire, and help one another. That is how crowdsourcing increases processing speed, quality, flexibility, scalability, and diversity at reduced costs. But be careful: Consumer cloud solutions carry risks.

 

Desk sharing instead of fixed office workspaces

But the following generally also applies: All employees are present at the same time in very few companies. Some work from home, others are visiting customers, and some are ill. So why spend money on large office spaces if you can get by with less? Collaboration tools are allowing many innovative companies to use what is referred to as the non-territorial office concept. That means employees can choose their desks in an open office landscape instead of having fixed workspaces. Everyone can sit where they want. At home, too. In Switzerland, over 200,000 employees already no longer have their own workspace. Especially large companies like Credit Suisse, SBB, or the postal system have introduced desk sharing in recent years. That increases space efficiency and reduces costs. It's no surprise more and more medium-sized Swiss are rethinking their existing structures. In the end, flexible work environments make working methods more agile as well.

The Swiss office landscape
  • Cubicle offices usually branch off to the right and left of a central hallway. Between one to four employees sit in each office. There are also often individual meeting rooms.

  • Open-plan offices are usually at least 4300 square feet in size and normally provide space for at least 20 desks. Some are completely open. Others use partitions to separate space, sometimes right down to individual cubicles.

  • Office landscape is the term used for modern open-plan offices. One of their characteristics is an organic distribution of desks throughout the space. Large groups of desks and tables alternate with smaller ones. Plants, design elements, and seating areas subtly divide space.

  • Business clubs follow the spatial precedent provided by traditional British clubs with comfortable seating areas and libraries. Instead of personal workspaces, therefore, there is a large number of different places to work.

Agility instead of rigid project management

Powerful, small teams that form on their own and complete tasks quickly. That is the project management of the future. Instead of rigid milestones, schedules, and responsibilities, it features short feedback cycles, learning from experience, a high level of transparency, and an open way of dealing with change. Documented, carried out, and driven forward with the help of digital collaboration and communication tools. Agile work encompasses several methods.

Is collaborative work not on your radar yet? Don't miss your chance. The following concepts could help your company move forward, too.


The most important agile work methods and tools at a glance
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    Scrum's philosophy is that complex projects cannot be planned. Instead, small sections are defined and worked through (sprints) step by step. Team organize themselves according to strict rules and roles. Progress on the project is checked on a daily basis in (virtual) meetings.
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    Kanban is actually a method that comes from process control. The Japanese car manufacturer Toyota developed it in the 1950s to accelerate throughput times. Kanban essentially means "signboard", which refers to the method's key element.

    Cards help visualize process flows. Microsoft applied the concept to IT development in the last decade, and in the meantime many fields use it in agile project management.

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    Obeya is Japanese and means "large room". Obeya is essentially a lean management tool. Lean management encompasses principles and methods for considerably accelerating processes. In an Obeya, for example, everybody who is involved in a process can convene in a large room, reach agreements more quickly, and make decisions independently of hierarchies and departmental boundaries.
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    The goal of holacracy is to dissolve hierarchies so as to react more flexibly. Instead of individual bosses, self-organized employee groups take on responsibility. These groups independently determine their own composition and role distribution.
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    The basic idea behind design thinking is that a creative environment and input from the widest possible variety of disciplines helps understand people's motives and needs. The approach consciously experiments with changes in perspective.

    Do you want to learn more about Work Smart concepts? Get in touch with us. At Sunrise, we are not just technology experts. We are also corporate advisors who understand the big picture.

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