Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Business

Siemens AG embraces 'New Way of Working'

ORLANDO — At the end of every workday, Siemens AG employees completely clean out their work areas in the company's new offices near the University of Central Florida. Desktops have no computers or phones. Drawers have no dusty human-resources manuals.

The German company's 300 employees are able to work in different parts of the office — or even at home — on any given day, depending on their needs.

The giant engineering company's new offices are one of seven Siemens locations in the United States that have adopted an "open concept" design. This approach is built on the theory that, at any given moment, only half of an office's employees are actually working in the office; the rest are out at appointments, in the field or taking time off. As a result, Siemens' new facility provides only 77 work stations for every 100 workers. And bosses generally don't get an office.

Branded by Siemens as NewWOW, short for "New Way of Working," the design allows the company to trade the traditional office culture for added collaboration as it downsized its quarters. The open setting includes cafe areas, informal meeting spaces and "think tanks" for anyone who needs a bit of private space.

"It's the shift from 'me' to 'we,' " said Justin Mardex, who is strategy director for M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates, the San Fransico-based architectural firm known simply as Gensler that oversaw the design work at Siemens' new Florida office. "It's a transition from being seen working to your work being seen."

Rooted in what is known as the "hotel concept," which let employees move among desks that were equipped with phones and laptop computers, this new style of office goes further by providing both computing power and phone service via portable laptops, plus lockers or storage space in which employees stash their belongings when they're not using them.

The idea, which appears to be growing in popularity, has its own set of buzz words, including "activity-based working," "workplace mobility" and "free-address approach."

"'Presenteeism' becomes less and less important when you have office environments like this," Mardex said, using a term to suggest the opposite of absenteeism.

A handful of companies shifted to this free-form office style about a decade ago, but more are now moving in that direction, having shed employees. As companies start to grow again, Mardex said, they are looking for new office alternatives. "A lot of times, it's driven by real estate and by an exercise in efficiency," Mardex said. "At Siemens, it's really a culture of change."

Justin West, an office specialist in Orlando for the commercial real estate firm Marcus & Millichap, said the average space requirement for each office employee was 250 to 300 square feet several years ago. But now it is less than 200 square feet per employee, and some work stations are as small as 60 square feet per person, he said, as companies shift to more communal environments.

"With the recent recession and lack of profits, companies have been trying to reduce expenses," West said. "Office space is a large line item that can easily be reduced with the reduction of physical space requirements. With the ever-increasing use of mobile technology, it is not as important for tenants to have massive office buildouts with large executive areas and 'cube farms.' "

Cathy Davidson, Siemens' general manager for building-strategy solutions, said the initiative was born of board-level discussions about employee recruitment, growth, performance and retention. She said new employees are generally more collaborative and team-oriented than their predecessors, and the new design better accommodates them. It also pushes workers toward a paperless workflow, with employees scanning images and reports into computers.

Some Siemens workers have had to hang on to their conventional work spaces: Engineers are so reliant on drawings, sets of plans and large software applications that they have kept their assigned space and desktop computers.

"As long as you evaluate from a performance point of view, rather than a line-of-site point of view, where you work really isn't important," she said. "This really is about changing the way we're working. It's not just about changing the space."

Comments
Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Washington PostA former Facebook executive is making waves after he spoke out about his "tremendous guilt" over growing the social network, which he feels has eroded "the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other."Chamath Paliha...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

State investigators have discovered more than double the number of credit card skimmers in the Tampa Bay area in 2017 than in 2016 — with still a few weeks left in the year. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found 54 skimmer...
Updated: 2 hours ago
French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

Three Tampa Bay malls may soon be under new management. French real estate company Unibail-Rodamco has agreed to buy Australia-based shopping mall operator Westfield Corp. for $15.7 billion in cash and shares."Westfield would arguably be the best or ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa Bay’s mortgage delinquency rate crept up in September

Tampa Bay’s mortgage delinquency rate crept up in September

Times Staff WriterThe percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners who are late on their mortgage payments rose slightly in September, probably due to Hurricane Irma. According to CoreLogic, 7 percent of bay area mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days c...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Unusual paddle design earns worldwide market

Unusual paddle design earns worldwide market

Paddling on the heels of the last supermoon of 2017, Phil Hughes navigated an uncommonly low tide off Dunedin through St. Joseph Sound on an effortless but lengthy glide.This is not easy water, nor an easy paddle, and could be especially daunting for...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Nicko's Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko's Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, known as the place Elvis Presley ate following a 1956 concert and Tampa’s last classic prefabricated diner, has shut down after more than 60 years in business. Owners Karen and Nicholas Liakos could not be reached for...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Punit Shah’s Liberty Group building new Channel District hotel with Jameis Winston as limited investor

Punit Shah’s Liberty Group building new Channel District hotel with Jameis Winston as limited investor

TAMPA — Punit Shah’s Liberty Group announced plans Tuesday to start construction in January on a Channel District project that will include a Hampton Inn and Home2 Suites, both by Hilton, plus a Starbucks Coffee.Financing for the $40 million project ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Creating PDQ from scratch: CEO of growing brand came from Bucs’ front office

Creating PDQ from scratch: CEO of growing brand came from Bucs’ front office

Shortly after leaving his job as chief financial officer of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to strike out on his own as an entrepreneur, Nick Reader wondered if he’d made the right move. "I probably had one of the coolest jobs in Tampa," said Reader, 42. Si...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

The floor-to-ceiling glass windows are heavily tinted and the inside is hidden behind rows of curtains. Security cameras monitor every corner, and only patients with an appointment and valid identification can pass through the intentionally cramped e...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Hotly anticipated Ichicoro Ane is now open in St. Petersburg

Hotly anticipated Ichicoro Ane is now open in St. Petersburg

Noel Cruz seemed remarkably chill. As did his partner Kerem Koca. All around them in the Station House building in St. Petersburg, workers pounded the last nails, bartenders unpacked boxes of glassware and jewel-toned bottles of Amari, and the kitche...
Updated: 10 hours ago