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How do we expand our boundaries of space and time?

Without actually expanding our physical boundaries…

The long silence has been broken by a loud bang. Literally. If you have been in our Berlin headquarters the last few days you most certainly have noticed the noise: a great deal of construction, deconstruction, and rearranging has been going on in the Aquarium at Arndtstraße 34. The goal, to transform our working space from the traditional to a more modern, more flexible working environment.

We are part of a growing number of companies that have taken this approach by abandoning tradition and opening up offices to accommodate a more flexible working environment. This means tearing down walls, opening up rooms, and eliminating personal working spaces to create an environment where everybody feels comfortable and which anybody can use. We have decided to implement this, first in the Aquarium, with the hope of providing flexibility, functionality and freedom to our teams. The idea, anyone can work from any desk in any office.

As our customer’s needs change, so to do our tasks and the way we provide services.

Our customer has played an excellent host to many of our employees in the past and a number of these are currently being repatriated back to mtc. This means we will have more and more teams coexisting in our existing space, working together under the same roof. An open office plan became the next logical step to create more space in an area in which no more space exists. We have to be creative and flexible in developing a functional space in which people actually feel good about using. This will enable us to put our focus on providing high quality service.

Over the last week a small group of dedicated staff have been very busy dismantling old tables and desks , packaging up hardware, assembling new workspaces and reconnecting computers. New desks have been ordered and built and the new office landscape is beginning to take shape.

Boundaries
Of course this change comes with its fair share of challenges. How do we create a new environment suitable for an ever-expanding workforce while retaining the comfort and atmosphere of the original space? How do we cater to the needs of specific teams when developers may have different requirements than our support or service teams? How do we make sure a person feels comfortable and welcome in this new space and how do we create a new space within our existing boundaries and adapt to these changes, all the while keeping consistent with our values?

Space
The new setup will include a long row of desks, each adorned with computer, keyboard, mouse, lamp, and chair.
Along the wall you will find a series of stand-up desks which can be used individually or shared by teams for specific projects or as an open space where teams can collaborate and share ideas. A cabinet in the holodeck is stocked with all the physical tools one might need to work effectively. Binders, paper, pens, and of course, chocolate.

You can create a space that satisfies each and every requirement with all the latest innovations in mind but until you add substance, the people, you won’t know if it is a success.

Time
The transformation, which began last week, will be completed by the end of this one. The real task begins however, once the new space has been put to use. This will be a time to listen and to collect feedback, to gauge employee satisfaction and allow ourselves to respond and adapt to the needs of the individual and the team.

When you google open office plans, you get a whole slew of results, including buzzwords like co-working , togetherness, and synergy. The biggest challenge we face? A great number of people simply like having a space that is their own. How can someone work effectively and be productive if they simply don’t feel good about the space they are working in?

Check back next month and see how people are adapting to the change, and more interestingly, how the change is adapting to the people.

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