The office: reinventing spaces

Mobility, collaboration and co-creation are bringing about new needs and uses within the enterprise and profoundly transforming the ways people work both inside and outside the office. Workspaces are becoming more flexible and user-friendly. We caught up with Séverine Legrix de la Salle, Director of the Bridge project, the new Orange headquarters which will open its doors in 2020.

If employees are adopting more mobile ways of working, how is the office adapting?

Séverine Legrix de la Salle: Things are moving there too! Thanks to new technologies, employees can move about within the office. The traditional configuration including the personal desk, open-plan office or meeting room has become unsuitable because everyone needs variation. Whether silent spaces to concentrate, informal meeting spaces around a coffee or formal conference-style rooms (which can be adapted to classic or agile structures) but also everyday admin spaces and green areas for relaxing and switching off… in this context the company must think about a greater diversity of workspaces where employees can enjoy optimum conditions to work how they like.

Does this phenomenon affect all generations?

S. L. G.: Absolutely, employees of all ages are expecting greater mobility and diversity. However, younger generations, who are searching for meaning in their work and who will change jobs several times, will probably add innovative office spaces into their selection criteria.

If you can work comfortably remotely, has the office become outdated?

S. L. G.: Why commute all the way into the office when you can work in a café, at home, in a hotel or in a co-working space? Sometimes you need to meet colleagues or partners face-to-face, take a training course, access diverse skills around you… the office is a place of human interaction, direct collaboration and shared innovation. However, to remain attractive, it has to be decompartmentalised, to encourage the circulation of individuals and therefore ideas. It’s also necessary for offices to be welcoming and integrate some home comforts, so that people can switch off and relax for a few moments during their working day. To this end, more and more business premises are incorporating green spaces, terraces and gardens, following the general trend towards ‘greening’ the urban environment.

How have you taken these changes into account for the Bridge project?

S. L. G.: Bridge aims to offer the best working experience to our employees. Our thinking focuses on designing new premises that are not just a building but also a resource area. Everything must be done so that Bridge promotes innovation and cooperation by proposing new workspaces and ways of working, within a space that’s configurable according to teams and their objectives. Today there’s a myriad of third places and new working initiatives: our aim is to determine what’s relevant, coherent and viable for a Group such as ours. Orange employees have the opportunity to participate in co-creation workshops to help us create future spaces according to their uses and needs. From a managerial point of view, Bridge is innovative right from its decision-making process. It’s the flagship of a large corporate transformation project that marks a turning point in collective decision-making. Since the project started, and until it ends, employees are asked for their opinion and can have a say.