Staff empowered by the office of the future

People will expect furniture to be locally produced and food waste turned into biogas at the office in the future. The office space will also be tailored to fit your special requirements, no matter what you are going to use it for – meetings, cooperation or working in silence on your own.

Jonas Veiberg has been working with Christine Aasen on developing the office of the future at If’s Norwegian headquarters in Oslo. The ‘Best Place to Work’ project at Vækerø is one of two pilot projects and, if successful, the experience from this may inspire how other parts of If – and other companies – develop their premises in a sustainable way.

‘If we’re going to develop a good office culture and feel that we’re part of something, we need to meet. It’s hard to develop a culture just via a screen’, they say.

No more nameplates on desks

The office of the future will be an ‘activity-based workplace’. In other words, the tasks of the day will determine where you choose to sit. Maybe you’ll start the day in a cellular office, holding meetings. Then you’ll sit close to your colleagues after lunch. The next day, you’ll perhaps sit in the quiet area to finish writing your report.

‘There will be more chairs than there are people, and people can sit with their colleagues. We believe it will eventually evolve to the point where different environments will become established in different parts of the premises, but more across departments than before. Eventually, everyone will know that you’ll find the claims handlers here and the travel advisors there. Not having a set place will create new patterns of activity, preventing people from being squeezed together’, says Christine.

The office landscape will be divided into 3 areas: an open area, a quiet area and a silent area. The open area starts at the entrance to the premises, with the transition between the areas being clearly marked. Work has been affected by COVID-19, people working from home and infection control planning.

‘Looking ahead, we must plan to ensure that surfaces are easy to clean and that there is a safe distance between office spaces. And perhaps we should be able to open doors and turn on taps with our elbows’, says Jonas.

The sustainable office

Sustainability has been implemented in all decisions and purchases for a long time. The fruit on the fruit counter and the beans in the coffee machine can be traced back to their origins. Office supplies are certified with the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. The furniture purchased comes from local businesses in the Southern Norway and Gudbrandsdalen regions. High-quality goods must have a long service life, and be environmentally friendly and recyclable. Food waste is turned into biogas and used to power buses passing the office.

The office of the future should minimise the climate footprint, resulting in proud and more satisfied employees:

‘Every decision made should support the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In the distant future, we hope that the material choices we made proved to be correct – quality was maintained, and we created the smallest possible climate footprint’, they say.

Christine Aasen photo.

Christine Aasen

Product Developer, If

Jonas Veiberg photo.

Jonas Veiberg

Head of Purchasing and Projects, If