Creativity is already there: instructions for use.

Creativity is not a matter of being a genius, it is a matter of living in an environment and constantly adapting to it and at the same time modifying it.
So creativity can be fostered through space, enhancing well-being, flexibility and malleability of the furniture, accountability, communication and new technologies. That’s what WOW! has sustained at the conference “The boundaries of fantasy: is creativity in the office going too further?” at the  IFMA’s Facility Management Day 2017

Talking about creativity in an office environment is sometimes cause of anxiety. Workers feel like they have to do something extraordinary that they feel they can’t do, even if they don’t know exactly what and how. On the other hand, managers are struggling to create more and more innovative workplaces and ways of working, questioning, at the same time, their real effectiveness of them and trying to define where it is possible to draw boundaries.


There’s another way to think about creativity that helps to take the pressure off: creativity is already there, it is a part of our everyday life in every environment.
The American anthropologist Tim Ingold once said that “we don’t build to dwell, we dwell therefore we build”.
Creativity arises in a constant relationship within an environment that is made of space, objects, people and rules.
A set of rules is essential for creativity, which is our own way to move inside and bend their boundaries and to keep on recreating them, like kids playing a “what if” game.
Think about the workstation of a hierarchical old-style workplace: on each desk it’s owner create his own territory, piling up papers, adding photos or other kind of objects, positioning monitors or pens in different ways. This is what I call an “inner focused” creativity, and its aim is “survive the boring routine of each day”. The challenge is nowadays to make this “already-made” creativity visible, enhance it, and use it to improve the company’s productivity.


If we think about the Maslow pyramid of needs, we can turn outwardly this creativity, by creating a space capable of satisfying the well-being, sense of belonging, engagement, fulfilment and safety, basic needs of everyone.
How can we do that nowadays? Here we give five practical suggestions:


 1) A malleable and pliant space.
When it’s a matter of creativity, flexibility is not enough. We need a sensorial environment that people can touch, reassemble, and constantly modify and re-invent. A multifunctional space is essential, but it is not enough: it has to be open designed, thought not just for the today’s needs but capable of adapting to ten years ahead needs.

2) Objects are actions and relationships.
“Two empty chairs, one opposite to the other, are already a conversation”. Objects are both symbols of identity both a suggestion of an action. Through furniture, managers can transmit messages and influence the behaviour of the employees, creating a space suitable for the goal they want to reach, making it easily perceivable.


 3) Accountability and trust
Social facts, like office’s life, has always something that is unpredictable and often the project you have in mind comes out in a totally different result.
We need to accept this unpredictability, creating a working environment where two smart working keywords like accountability and trust are perceived and put into practice constantly.


4) Space as communication and learning.
As Birgit Gebhardt has studied, it is more effective to design space, not thinking about the material side of it, but like a stage where conversations, communications and actions take place. We need to shape communication if we want to foster new perspective and new ways of interaction, which are the foundation of a creative workplace. Moreover, we have to think about the office as a life-long learning environment, where people can exchange competences and knowledge, stimulating their personal growth.


5) The key role of technology.
As a recent Sedus’s research shows, technology is having a strong impact on architecture and design, developing the concept of a “spacial happiness” based on the capability of the individual to dominate the environment, deciding the lighting, heating, humidity, acoustic conditions. Technology is also crucial to control the unpredictability we talked about before: IoT and sensors help to collect a huge amount of data that managers can use to design more effective and more engaging workplace, satisfying the needs of each employee.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Real Estate and the Human Experience in the office.

The workplace is more than a property, is a living ecosystem, where numerous experiences take place. The study by JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle’s brand name)Workplace powered by Human Experience” underlines three most important drivers: Engagement, Fulfilment and Empowerment. Real Estate is confirmed to be a powerful changing factor, leading a company through the present and future challenges.

“As workplace strategy moves from practical, design-based decision making to a more experience-led approach, expect an overlap with functions that have traditionally been the domain of HR teams. This will impact workspace design and decision-making”, with these words Marie Puybaraud, Global Head of Research di JLL Corporate Solutions, comments on their report “Workplace powered by Human Experience”.

The research was run over 40 client companies and 7.300 people (age 18-65), in 12 different countries: Australia, China, France, Germany, italy, Japan, India, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, U.S.A. and Great Britain.

The study has found that there are three priorities to drive the change: Engagement, Empowerment and Fulfilment. Engagement means fostering a sense of commitment and creating mutual trust and kindness. Empowerment, instead, is about giving people a sense of control in their working environment and the opportunity to take the initiative, while fulfilment can be achieved making sure work feels comfortable “beyond the surface level of happiness”, giving the chance to grow professionally in a challenging environment.


Some key findings of the research are that spaces dedicated to collaboration and teamwork have the strongest impact on productivity, that agility improve performance, and that effectiveness is linked to a low density in the workplace.
The innovative offices are the ones that offer a mixture of collaborative and community spaces, support services and creative environments. Additionally, 28% of the companies provide an incubator, a dedicated space enabling colleagues and external talent to develop personal projects while making use of the company infrastructure, support and advice.


70% of the interviewed people agree that happiness at work is the key ingredient for a good human experience, while the 54% see positively Chief Happiness Officer should be fully devoted to employee wellbeing. While large corporations are still attractive, employees crave an entrepreneurial culture: 46% of employees aspire to work in a start-up environment.
“A workplace that is powered by the human experience goes beyond a work-life balance” Marie Puybaraud concludes. “It drives how people feel about their place of work. How empowered, engaged and fulfilled they are, it’s the purposeful fusion of life and work based on authentic human experiences”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.




A source of well-being and emotional influences: that’s the workplace 3.0.

We are all looking forward to the presentation of the next Salone Ufficio -in April, during Salone del Mobile in Milan expected to launch new products and to give new a picture of a smart workplace not just from a technological viewpoint, but as a place where the worker plays an active role within virtuous circles.
A smart office because based on relations, trust, transparency, wellbeing. Where work and joy, productivity and play coexist.

We’ll soon know how some designers from all over the world are going to develop the theme “A Joyful sense at Work” proposed by Cristiana Cutrona for the cultural installation at pavilion 24 of Salone Ufficio.
However the guidelines of this cultural transformation of the workplace are clear and a “movement “ is getting underway to lay the groundwork for the Workplace 3.0, as proved by some of the articles published in this issue:
PwC Switzerland office in Basel by Evolution Design (Work Your Way to Well-Being!); AB Medica headquarters by Giuseppe Tortato, a “refuge regenerator” in balance with the nature and focused on worker’s psychophysical wellbeing.
Joyful, wellbeing and emotions also features the Fondazione Feltrinelli headquarters in Milan designed by Herzog e De Meuron and the colorful workplace by GaS in Rome.
These places, where a work-life balance is possible, enable new behaviours, a different use of space, and are a source of inspiration for an actually groundbreaking furniture design.
Hybrid objects out of the box and out of any kind of existing category ( for example the swinging pouf by 13&9 or the wall-piece-of-furniture by Kaja Solgaard Dahl).
Enjoyable furniture for a non-static and standardized working environment.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine.


Photos by Peter Wurmli:  PwC Switzerland office in Basel, design by Evolution Design.

The Best Companies 2016 by Great Place to Work Italia.

Great Place to Work Italia has recently announced the Best Workplace 2016, the ranking of the best companies to work in. The 2016’s list includes 40 companies, 5 more than the last year, with 4 small ones between 20 and 49 employees. The research has also pointd out three foundamental relationship that makes a working environment excellent: the trust between the management and the employees, the pride for your own job and for the companies you work in and the quality of the relationship with collegues. Five dimensions need also to be taken into account: credibility, respect, equality, pride and bond.

One of the keywords of nowadays management is “Welfare“.
“It is a very simple concept: anyone works better if he lives an happy life. It is about giving the instruments to build a good work-life balance and helping the workers to deal with emotional and private needs and problems: stress management courses, psycological counseling, monitoring all the stress factors in the working environment, these are some of the solutions companies are experimenting”, Antonino Borgese, Presidente di Great Place To Work Italia, explains.
That’s why we can find Vetrya at the second place of the Medium Company ranking (Cisco in confirmed at the first Cisco), a company from Orvieto (Italy) with its environmentally friendly campus with wide green spaces, sport fields, relax areas and a nursery.


A manager should be also careful about his workers and colleagues’ social media, where, as Alessandro Zollo, Great Place to Work’s CEO, noticed, the satisfaction and the bond with the company is mostly expressed. “The pride is the real power of the people”, he noticed.
A third important, but sometimes ignored, aspect is the feedback or the constant communication between managers and employees. “Even though feedback is not the only feature that makes the distinction between a good and an excellent company, it is clear that the vertical communication is something that the big companies are really careful of. If you wanna reach the best results you can’t undervaluate this aspect”.
The Best Workplace’s ranking is based on the opinion of the workers, through the Trust Index questionnaire . These results are the 2/3 of the final grade that is completed with an analysis of the HR management made by the companies themselves in the Culture Audit questionnaire.
Text by Gabriele Masi.


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10 rules for the new WOW’s ergonomics.

A working environment must be based on trust, sense of community and a communal growing process: the case studies we have analysed during the Jelly Session “Ergonomics, comfort and he alt promotion in the smart office” at the WOW! Agile Working Island 2016 suggested us a rulebook that we have called the Decalogue for the ergonomics of the new WOWs. A framework that we have developed with all the expert that took part of the meeting, suggesting a new idea of ergonomics and comfort for the spaces of the new ways of working.

1. Anthropologic Design.
Referring to design, the adjective “anthropologic” can be used with different meanings. Fist the different relationship between the company and the workers, we have discussed in the article From a controlling father-like to a mother-like model of the company”. Then a working environment that is designed to answer to the need of the men living in, in a new connection between people and the office space. Finally it wants to stress the cultural meaning and context of the design, an instrument that reflects the mentality of the society and of the company.

2. Mental ergonomics.
Ergonomics is not just a correct position of the body, it is also a correct position of the mind, it is a productive and fertile state of mind, that goes far beyond the quality of the seat or the use of the adjustable height desks. The main feature of the smart working is a personal sensation of wellbeing: therefore ergonomics is also working, laying in a  park, in a concept that take the working environment outside the border of the office building.

3. A new humanism.
This state of mind means giving a new status to the working activity, in an idea of a proactive, reasoning and satisfy person. The “worker as a human being” is the key concept of the new ways of working, following the paradigm happiness = more productivity and stronger ties between the employee and the company and its values.

4. Ergonomics of the soul.
Though it is similar to the previous two, this concept goes deeper. Ergonomics of the soul means to go beyond the idea of ergonomics as a mere scienze, made of charts and scientific studies, but to see it as an attitude of modelling the need of the company on the the need of the worker, a work-life balance capable of creating the less interference as possible between private and working life.

5. Flexibility of the workspace.
The workspace must be able to answer to all the need that a worker have to deal with during a working day. Flexibility, therefore, it is not just about furniture or design of the space, but about all the elements of the working environment, even the vertical partition (the most static one). The movable walls are part of a space designed for the smart working, a smart wall that that helps to enhance acoustic quality and the possibility of re-arrangement of the settings, and at the same time, it can be used as a interactive instrument or a screen.

6. Human to Human.
From B2B to H2H: when technology seems to get us apart from the working environment, the company and the worker can be linked in another way. Recalling a common expression as “Business to Business”, we can define the nowadays HR management and the workspace design as Human to Human.

7. The enemy is the distraction.
A special attention must be paid on the concept of concentration and how to avoid the lack of it, immediately at the first stage of the project, imaging specific paths and focusing on the acoustics. This is one of the main concerns of the new open space, a factor that has a strong influence over the wellbeing and the productivity of the employees. Absorption and soundproof materials: from more performing headphones, to textile floors, to the attention paid to the material and the disposition of the walls, to the use of soundproof panels. The possibility of find the right concentration is a very important issue for the new dynamic workspace.

8. Ergonomics of the Sight.
Beauty, home-feeling, comfortable: these words have now become part of the common language of the office design. The working environment must be a place where the worker likes to spend his day, not anymore a strict, severe, colourless space.

9. Fertility
Employees’ wellness means productivity. An increment that is not just about incomes and profit, but also about more creativity, innovation, new ideas, and better ways to find new solutions to problems the company have to deal with. The office become a fertile and fruitful space, making the company and the individual grow together.

10. Technological collision.
Technology is it not an optional element, but a fundamental feature that has to be take into consideration when an office is projected. It is not something you add to the space, but something that has to be thought with the space, in order to enhance his benefits and qualities. The internet of thing, also, increase the potentiality and the flexibility of the furniture, turning them into interactive and multifunctional objects.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

Ringraziamo tutti i partecipanti alla Jelly Session che hanno dato il proprio contributo per la stesura di questo Decalogo, tra i quali:

Daniele Andriolo (Plantronics)
Matteo Artusi (TotalTool)
Antonino Borgese (GPTW)
Renzo Caimi ( Caimi Brevetti)
Lella Castelli (Sedus)
Giulio Ceppi (TotalTool)
Cristiana Cutrona (Revalue)
Paolo Davoglio (Facility &Welfare manager)
Michele Dell’Orto (Linak)
Rossella Destefani (Deamicis Architetti)
Gianluca Geroli (SgS Architetti Associati)
Antonella Mantica (Progetto CMR)
Luca Pasqualotto (Copernico)
Marco Predari (Assufficio)
Federico Rivera (Digital Entity)
Renata Sias (WOW! Webmagazine)
Andrè Straja (GaS Studio)
Marco Vigo (DC10)
Silvano Zanuso (Technogym)
Antonio Zulianello (NEC)

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Smart Working isn’t a fashion.

Despite a “legislative vacuum”, in Italy nearly 50% of the big companies has adopted flexibility-oriented policies (hours and work space, technological equipment, review of the office layout, changes in leadership styles). The big companies, who have started Smart Working projects have increased by 17 % (over 8% in 2014). A further 14% is getting ready for future projects and another 17% has started flexibility polices concerning special roles or requirements. Instead, just a 5% of small-sized enterprises is concerned.

Smart Working isn’t a fashion, but a cultural change requiring a long and deep evolution path. “It means to go beyond the introduction of single tools to create a result-oriented organization, based on trust, assumption of responsibilities, flexibility and collaboration” as explained by Mariano Corso, in charge of Scientific Research of Osservatorio Smart Working.
On the occasion of the conference named “Smart Working: scopriamo le carte!” at Centro Servizi of Banca Popolare di Milano, were presented the results of the study by Osservatorio Smart Working of School of Management of Politecnico di Milano (www.osservatori.net); a survey carried out on over 240 public and private organizations.

The impassioned speeches of those who told their experience prove that there is not just one formula of smart working, as Fiorella Crespi, Director of Osservatorio Smart Working explains “… it’s necessary to consider one’s specificities and try a consistence with objectives and business strategy to find balances. The subject of the middle management ‘s resistance was repeatedly broached, Philip Vanhoutte of Plantronicsauthor of Smarter Working Manifesto– declares that managers should go back school to learn the instruments of the new leadership modes.
Dynamism and Flexibility are keywords of Smart Working,
in all its possible applications, including also the need for an office layout that can be reconfigured according to the standards of the Activity-Based Office. Ergonomic and comfort-conscious spaces designed to make people want to change. Even the posture, for instance with height-adjustable desks, that have shown considerable benefits in terms of health and prevention, as quoted Ernst Holzapfel of Sedus.
71% of managers think that Coworking is also an opportunity for organized companies, owing to the time/cost reduction of the home-office commuting and the feeling of isolation given by home working. Yet, just 36% of companies considers the Coworking space as one of the possible options. For the employees, the chief barriers to the use of Coworking concern the worry about the security measures of the corporate data (58% of interviewees).
Smart Working Award
The companies in nomination for were: ABB Italia for the project “Lavoro Agile @ABB”, Banca Intesa Sanpaolo for the project “Lavoro Flessibile in Intesa Sanpaolo”, BNL – Gruppo BNP Paribas for the project “Smart Bank”, L’Oréal Italia for the project “Be Smart! Work Smart!” and Siemens for the project “Siemens Office”) the Smart Working Award 2015 the winners are: Intesa San Paolo and Siemens.


Smart Working:it’s time to show the cards (Milan, October 20th).

Great expectations for the 2015 OWS Conference (Osservatorio Smart Working), that has been promoting new ways of working for years to bring forward the ordinary bonds related to work place and hours, based instead on autonomy, flexibility, assumption of responsibilities and trust.

The meeting to present the results of the 2015 study will also be an opportunity to give critical answers to the most frequent questions:
To what extent is Smart Working widespread in Italy?
What are the impacts of Smart Working on organizations, people and cities?
What are the key qualifying technologies for Smart Working?
What are the chief features and technologies of a Smart Office?
How do you approach a Smart Working project?
The presentation of the research 2015, will be followed by a round table and the prize giving ceremony of the Smart Working Awards.
The attendants will be given the 2015 Research Report at the end of the meeting.
The 2015 edition of OSW (Osservatorio Smart Working) has been realized with the support of Arkadin, Citrix, CSC, Methodos, Plantronics, Sedus, Telecom Italia | TIM, VMware; R1. With the media partnership of  Manageritalia and WOW! Webmagazine and the sponsorship of Banca Popolare di Milano.
The Osservatori.net members can attend the Web streaming live.
For further information: l’Ing. Alessandra Gangai (alessandra.gangai@polimi.it)
Title: Smart Working: scopriamo le carte!
Where: Sala conferenze, Centro Servizi Banca Popolare di Milano, via Massaua 6, Milano
When: October 20th, 9 am.
picture from www.pmi.it


Star: the smart revolution of a traditional company.

From fixed workstations to free and not personalized desks, from a work environment organized in a hierarchy to the open space. How can we bring a traditional company into the smart working era? During the second jelly session of WOW! Island Agile Working’s week, Matteo Melchiorri, HR Star and Antonella Grenci by Il Prisma, presented the Star’s new offices in Milano.

Star, the famous italian food industry, has just moved its offices to the new MAC7 center in Milan. The new interior spaces, designed by the architect Antonella Grenci of the firm Il Prisma, were built following the new concept of the “chance encounters” work environment.
“We have chosen an open space without any fixed workstation”, Matteo Melchiorri said. “We didn’t aim to a space optimisation. All the workstations are traditional, but there are no partitions and, as our new paper-less way of working required, the room for archiving was strongly reduced. To help our employees towards this change, we gave to each of them a limited capacity locker (35x60x60cm)”.
What really identifies the project is the strong company’s imprint given to the environment.
“Everyone can recognize our office at first sight”, Antonella Grenci said. “The moquette on the ground is green like a field, and yellow and red soundproof-panels clouds hang on the white ceiling and walls: Star brand’s colors are everywhere”.
A strong architectural element is the agorà, the core of the project.
“The offices’ structure is oval”, Melchiorri explained. “At the centre there is a common space that recalls a familiar kitchen environment, with a kitchen table, a fridge, vending machines, tables and settees. A flexible and multifunctional break area that can be easily used to chill out or to arrange informal meetings. We wanted a space capable to encourage the employee’s socialization. We also have a real and professional kitchen where we organize show cookings and events for the press, students or customers, etc…”.
What is the most important step to lead a company towards the smart working?
Melchiorri has no doubts: “ It is the change managment, a mix of a guidance and the explanation of the sense of the new way of working.
That’s why we had decided to show the different steps of the realisation of the new spaces in a dedicated website and we organized an internal focus group to pay attention to all the doubts and ideas of our people. The fundamental thing is to take nothing for granted and to answer to all the objections.
As Melchiorri underlines, the transition to smart working is something that needs time and it has to be made step-by-step.
We are not a totally agile company, but for now we have chosen a more flexible working time, starting between 7:30 to 9:30 and with a free time management during the day. Most of all we have eliminated the clock in system, in pursuit of trust and accountability. In this phase we decided not to allow the home working, maybe in the future…”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.



Let’s trust the Agile Working!

“What’s the meaning of the agile working? Trust. An extreme trust in people and in their ability of self-controlling their way of working and, at the same time, a way of living, a simple path full of benefits. But why is still so difficult to carry it out?” With this question the Milan Council Member Chiara Bisconti opened the first round table “Agility and Wellness” of the WOW! Island Agile Working’s week at Cozzi swimmingpool of Milan, the last 23rd March.

“Smartworking and agile working are based on the self-determination of the space and of the time, overcoming finally a tayloristic concept of work. It’s a new way of working that measure the quality of a job on goals and results, giving to everyone a lot of benefits. In particular it raises the wellness of the employers, allowing them to regain hours of life that can be dedicated to self-care, family, hobbies or social activities. We as women, in particular, are really satisfied when we can ‘put all the things togheter’”, Chiara Bisconti said, “Maybe the cultural change can be encouraged also by the ‘extreme moment’ we are living: when buildings are well conceived, they are already predisposed to answer to different needs”.

In fact as also Luca Ghezzi, Milanosport managing director of external relations and comunication, declared “The view of the water down there and, in the meantime, of a lot of people up here talking about agile working is really something amazing. In nowadays families where both parents work, agile working is necessary”.
So what are the obstacles?
The answer was given by Antonio Borgese of Great Place to Work Italia: “Realizing the agile working in a company is not a logistical or technological problem, but it’s only a matter of trust. On one side the manager has to trust the fact that his collaborator will do his job with the same effort without being strictly controlled, and on the other side the collaborator has to believe that his best working performances and his carrier are not linked to the time he is spending in the office. A way of working based on goals is a process of cultural growth. As a survey made bu the company TNT has shown, people working from home dedicate 5 hours more to the company, and this is not accidental: agile working is especially the expression of the attention and the care a company has to their employers, and that makes workers put more effort for the company’s goal”.
Alberto Cannistrà, member of IFMA Italia and Siemens Real Estate manager, has then pointed another cultural obstacle out: “Why don’t people choose the agile working? Beacuse of the common fear of losing the clear separation between our private life and our working time. We fear we would be on duty 24 hours a day”. But this problems can be easily solved as the Siemens experience shows.
“Our work-life balance is crucial to our lives in the new ways of working”, Fiorella Crespi, supervisor of the Politecnico of Milan’s Smart Working Observatory, confirms, showing some really encouraging datas about the agile working in Italy.
The 8% of the italian companies has choosen this way of working. This made them increase their productivity up to 40%, and their workers are now able to do the same amount of work in less time”.
In a dedicated article Francesco Zurlo and Marco Predari speeches will be summed up as an answer to the question: how is design responding to this progressive change of mentaly towards the agile working?
Text by Gabriele Masi.



The design of the options.

“The nowadays more effective shape of smartworking is the one inspired by the way creatives organize themselves and the spaces they work in.
The designer is not an ego anymore, but a design of the spaces allowing the users to customize them, according to their work-rhythm. We must add to the x, y, z dimensions we are used to consider, another size: the dimension of time”.

With this words Francesco Zurlo, member of ADI’s selection committee and professor at Politecnico of Milan, opened the round table “Agility and Wellness” of the WOW! Island Agile Working at Cozzi swimmingpool of Milan, the last 23rd March.
Office design is been always conceived on a functionalist paradigm, based on the standardization of ergonomic and safety aspects.
The developing of smartworking and agile working has changed the way of relating with the space.
“We have to find new solutions designed both for the needs of the company and of the workers”, says the professor, “I call it “Design of the options”, imagining that who has options has also freedom. So, I believe that the wellness in a working environment depends on the options this space can give to its users, in terms of usability, relationships and work semplification. When I give options, I give also trust.
The question is: how can I design patterns that help the company to communicate trust to workers through the environment?”.
“Nowadays design is going through a metamorphosis”, professor Zurlo concludes “ in the new concept of working, the desing will play a key role only if it will be able to focus on the new dimensions of trust and rhythm”.
The desk, as the symbol of the old conception of working, is the element of the office which is changing the most. As Marco Predari of Assufficio said, companies are investing on the types of furniture that will able to overcome the stillness of a personal desk.
Design can really be a regenerating factor, the driving force for a systematic revolution. What is really changing now is the relation among the common areas in-between and offices, in strict meaning. There are more and more environments studied to encourge informal interactions. The changing will affects also the real estate sector: the rationalisation of the space makes all the structures to be thought over in the distribution of their systems and structures, following the new planning of the spaces and of the furniture.
Text by Gabriele Masi.



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The Dawn of the Great Workplace Era.

The prize-giving ceremony of the Best Companies by Great Place to Work Italia is much more than a social event or a self-celebration. The enthusiasm aroused at the announcement of each company entering the Best Companies’ exclusive circles is the tangible proof of how the Corporate Objectives and Vision are really shared… as well as the evidence that a Great Workplace can achieve the best business results.

At the ceremony, hold last February 17th at Triennale di Milano, attended by the 35 companies nominated out of the 98 who competed for the award, one could feel that sense of belonging, high-trust, pride and camaraderie, which has been much talked about in theory.
Through the job conducted for over 25 years by Great Place to Work, the Best Companies give us a pragmatic proof that all workplaces can get excellent and demonstrate that great workplaces lead to better business results.
On the average, the Best Companies have a 11,49% higher turnover than similar companies not included in the place list, yet there are instances like 7Pixel, that in 2015 has increased by 39% over the previous year!

“The Dawn of the Great Workplace Era” it the title of the research conducted by Great Place to Work around the world. It shows that the world’s best workplaces are getting better. On World’s Best Multinational Workplaces list and on national lists throughout the globe are a kind of vanguard, leading the way into a more hopeful economic epoch.
Here the keywords of the research:

There is increased awareness among company leaders globally of the importance of a high-trust workplace culture. Trust is top of mind for today’s executives worldwide, according to a PwC report last year, which surveyed 1,330 CEOs in 68 countries2.

Evidence is mounting that great workplaces lead to better business results. Higher levels of employee satisfaction corresponded to stock market outperformance in countries with high levels of labor market flexibility.

Y Generation
The Millennial generation is demanding better workplaces. Around the world, the cohort of people in their mid-30s and younger is pushing employers to pay more attention to work-life harmony and social responsibility. Generation Y does not only search for a job, they search for a fulfilling activity that they can be proud of. Topics like health and work-life balance are key in companies that want to be top concerning the quality of their workplace culture.

Employee gratitude
High-trust cultures aren’t just about what management does for employees. They also reflect employee gratitude and reciprocation—especially in difficult times. Although economic downturns can erode workplace cultures, organizations that take care of their employees amid crises can bolster trust. In a number of European countries that have weathered political and economic challenges, employees at great workplaces appreciate their companies more deeply, says Dimitris Ganoudis, general manager of Great Place to Work Greece. When companies keep high standards and good working conditions amid layoffs, salary reductions and benefit cuts in the overall economy, Ganoudis says, “this makes employees more likely to reward the company in return. They are more conscious of the benefits and the treatment they have.”

The emergence of a ‘wellbeing’ movement is nudging organizations to improve their cultures. Levels of stress have risen at organizations globally as companies have asked employees to do more with less and the growing use of mobile devices has led employees to feel pressure to be “always on”. Stanford University Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer has estimated that there are more than 120,000 excess deaths annually in the U.S. alone because of unhealthy work environments—which include features such as little control over one’s work, conflicts between work and family, and job insecurity.
Partly in response to stressful work climates, people have placed more value on physical and mental wellbeing. Great workplaces around the world are embracing this trend. Among the three Trust Index© scores that have risen most among the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces is this statement: “People are encouraged to balance their work life and their personal life.” Backed by research that relaxation and meditation techniques translate into better business results, Italian best workplaces in particular are doing such things as providing yoga classes, mindfulness workshops and emotional intelligence training, says Alessandro Zollo, CEO of Great Place to Work® Italy “Workspaces are changing to allow people to find self-awareness, physical well-being and, most importantly, psychological well-being that puts managers in the condition to make better decisions and employees in general to work without worries and with a smile.”

Once an organization develops a positive workplace culture, that culture tends to continue getting better. This positive, upward spiral owes both to management and employees. They participate to advance the organization and feel greater appreciation for their work setting.

The emergence of technologies such as social media and mobile, personal devices that can easily record images and audio are providing unprecedented transparency into organizations. So is the pressure on organizations by government agencies and non-governmental organizations to disclose information related to labor relations and environmental impact. The result is that the sunlight of transparency is exposing and punishing less- than-great organizations and rewarding good ones.
Text by Great Place to Work Italia.

Italian Best Workplaces/Large Companies:
1. Microsoft Italia, 783 dipendenti, www.microsoft.it
2. FedEx Express,
1226 dipendenti, www.fedex.com
3. EMC Computer Systems Italia SpA,
501 dipendenti, www.emc.com
4. Bricoman,
798 dipendenti, www.bricoman.it
5. Eli Lilly Italia SpA,
991 dipendenti, www.lilly.it
6. IKEA Italia Retail SRL,
5927 dipendenti, www.ikea.it
7. Bottega Veneta Italia,
680 dipendenti, www.bottegaveneta.com
8. Adecco SpA,
1695 dipendenti, www.adecco.it
9. Quintiles,
760 dipendenti, www.quintiles.com
10. Lidl Italia,
10.425 dipendenti, www.lidl.it
11. Markas SRL,
5558 dipendenti, www.markas.it
12. Abbvie,
1227 dipendenti, www.abbvie.it

Italian Best Workplaces/Small and Medium Enterprises
1. Sanofi Pasteur MSD, 81 dipendenti, www.spmsd.it
2. W.L. Gore e Associati SRL,
104 dipendenti, www.gore.com
3. Vetrya,
56 dipendenti, www.vetrya.it
4. Cisco Systems,
376 dipendenti, www.cisco.com
5. Mars Inc. (Mars, Royal Canin),
317 dipendenti, www.mars.it
6. National Instruments,
74 dipendenti www.ni.com
7. Loccioni,
371 dipendenti, www.loccioni.com
8. Coca-Cola Italia SRL,
75 dipendenti, www.coca-colaitalia.it
9. ConTe.it – Admiral Group PLC,
467 dipendenti, www.conte.it
10. Zeta Service,
113 dipendenti, www.zetaservice.com
11. Mellin – Danone Nutricia,
250 dipendenti, www.mellin.it
12. CSL Behring SpA,
51 dipendenti, www.cslbehring.com
13. Volkswagen Financial Services,
334 dipendenti, www.vwfs.it
14. Biogen Idec Italia,
88 dipendenti, www.biogenidec.it
15. SAS,
332 dipendenti, www.sas.com
16. Smith & Nephew SRL,
173 dipendenti, www.smith-nephew.com
17. MBS Consulting,
50 dipendenti, www.mbsconsulting.it
18. Eurac Research,
172 dipendenti, www.eurac.edu
19. Assimoco SpA,
353 dipendenti, www.assimoco.it
20. Aptar Italia,
498 dipendenti, www.aptar.com
21. Monsanto Agricoltura Italia SpA,
128 dipendenti, www.monsanto.it
22. 7Pixel,
90 dipendenti, www.7pixel.it
23. Griesfeld APSP,
134 dipendenti, www.griesfeld.it


Great Place to Work Italia: the Best Workplaces 2015 were awarded.

The Best Workplace 2015 of Great Place to Work Italia were awarded at the Triennale in Milan last 17th February. Among 98 participating companies, the  best “large companies” are Microsoft, Fedex, EMC Computer System, Bricoman Lilly; the winners in the “small companies” category are Sanofi Pasteur MSD, WL Gore, Vetrya, Cisco System, Mars. The main value of this authoritative award lies in the assignment method: the voters are employees, the real users of the workplace.

The ranking is originated mostly from the evaluation of the people, by filling out the questionnaire, assigning to their company the title of Best Workplace.
Alessandro Zollo, president of Great Place to Work Italia explains “Two-thirds of Great Place to Work’s assessment of company’ workplace is based upon the confidential and anonymous feedback of employees that they receive through the Trust Index Employee survey. The remaining part of the evaluation is based on the Culture Audit management questionnaire, that provides insight into organization’s value system, programs and practices, and accounts for one-third of our total assessment.
According to the Model© which the questionnaire Trust Index© is based on, a great place to work is characterized by three fundamental relationships: a relationship of mutual trust with the company management, the pride in what people do and the quality of relationships with colleagues.
rust is the defining principle of great workplaces — created through management’s credibility, the respect with which employees feel they are treated, and the extent to which employees expect to be treated fairly. The degree of pride and levels of authentic connection and camaraderie employees feel with one are additional essential components.
The Italian list is divided into two section: Best Workplaces – SME (with companies with a number of employees between 50 and 500) and Best Workplaces – Large Companies (with companies with more than 500 employees).bigstock-I-Love-My-Work-5834641


The Best Workplace work on the “Human Touch”.

The Great Place to Work European Conference revealed that the Best workplaces are getting better, and are paying more attention to the needs and wishes of individual employees.

The 12th annual Best Workplace in Europe List by Great Place to Work was announced in Rome last June shows at the 5 first places Microsoft, WL Gore, Admiral Group, SAS Institute (check out all the companies).
Together with the list of the best workplaces in Rome was presented the
new report, Working on the Human Touch: a five-year analysis of the best workplaces in European countries with a focus on levels of employee trust. The results demonstrate that most countries saw a gain in trust levels in their best workplaces, and several countries experienced significant improvement. In addition, European workplaces are moving away from viewing employees as cogs in the machine and trying to provide employees with the human touch.

smart working-agile workplace

The benefits of Agile Work.

The results of the study carried out by SDA Bocconi on the occasion of the Agile Work Day of Comune di Milano, confirm that it would be short-sighted for companies not to adopt new “agile” Ways Of Working, it being understood that a cultural change is absolutely necessary: from the evaluation of the worker’s presence to the evaluation of the results attained; to make people aware of their responsibilities and work on establishing relations one can trust.

Benefits for the company
The analysis of companies following an Agile Work strategy shows, first of all, a profit, since no desk for each employee is required, with an average 20% saving. Agile Work also means a drop of the turn over, lower rates of absenteeism, less sick leaves; a few companies have recorded a 15% increase in their profits.
Benefits for the workers
A greater autonomy and control of one’s work are stress-reducing factors; users of Agile Work appreciate work-life balance andare more satisfied and more motivated to produce.
Reluctances and restrictions
All that clashes with a widespread managerial style,especially in Italian companies, not too prone to delegate but rather control-oriented. The greatest resistance comes from showing oneself everywhere; instead, we should work on the idea and technologies that enable people to be productive regardless of the workplace.
The ongoing trends
Now there are several factors leading the company to work on space-time flexibility;
the potential of technology; the need to save on running costs; the company’s growing care over Corporate Social Responsibility (lower consumpion and air pollution); the needs and requirements of the new “digital” generations of workers.
Text by Adele Mapelli, SDA Professor and expert in Diversty Management and Leadership.




The design blogger, a strategic figure in 2.0 companies.

Web and mobile devices are changing the ways of marketing and communicating. We thought that it could be much easier to do the usual things through the web tools, but we were wrong.  We agree what Francesco Morace  have said in his last book “What is the Future?” (Che cosa è il Futuro?) Only those companies, that have really something to teach, will be able to communicate effectively in the future!” 
Newsletters, DEM, Social network are not the digital version of an advertorial on a magazine or a “paper mailing”. Social media have their own rules and work in a fast-evolving world and market. The new keywords are prestige, credibility, trust, culture, reputation, story, attitude, share, contamination, emotion, experience, participation, niche.
To be up to this ever-developing situation, the 2.0 company has to get organized and act on the basis of a collaborative approach.
The blogger carries its own research and coordination skills, and filtres the “qualitative” data through the value added of passion. To devote in-house resources, trained and motivated, is therefore a strategically essential requirement.
Text by Alessandro Barison, design blogger.
In the photo EmmeItalia offices, digital – analogic balance.

When I look out the window I’m working.

”How do I explain to my wife that when I look out the window I’m working?” Quoting the well-known query raised by Joseph Conrad, Domenico De Masi spoils a few certainties and Gianmaurizio Cazzarolli confirms “Work is a state of being, not a place!”

The settings opened by Domenico De Masi, Michele Bonfiglioli, Gianmaurizio Cazzarolli, Enrico Cietta, Alberto De Zan, Roberto Zuccato, Luisa Bocchietto, and Renata Sias, on the occasion of the conference “Investire nell’ufficio fa bene all’azienda” (Investing in the office is good for the company) were really stimulating, and the results of the study “Lo spazio di lavoro come investimento produttivo”(work space as a productive investment) were presented there.
There is no progress without happiness
, said prof De Masi, but we seem to be depressed and nonplussed, instead of planning the future we are just waiting for it to happen. We must work out new models, but which ones? We cannot apply old rules and new models. Work is destructured and the same should do the room where it takes place; motivation is needed to improve production, not the control, and also a “creative idleness” plays an important role.
Michele Bonfiglioli AD of Bonfiglioli Consulting investigates the theme of new models by offering the Lean approach to eliminate waste of time and space. “However, a streamlined organization requires a strong Core Value from the management.
Flexible Time and Smart Working are the key concepts in case history of Tetra Pak explained by Gianmaurizio Cazzarolli, Director, Human Resource and Services Tetra Pak, the company winner of Smart Working Awards and Great Place To Work Awards. Tetra Pak makes use of a system of measurement by objectives with a variable wage and has planned the organization on concepts of assumption of responsibilities and self-management, work-life balance, trust, transparency and flexibility also for production. Obviousley, the top management must believe and share this culture and the offices are designed to suit and make these WOWs (Ways Of Working) easier.

The meeting in Treviso is the consistent continuation with the two previous workshops “Smart & Happy Office” “Felicità e produttività in ufficio” organized by Assufficio in Milan during 2013.


How to Create a Smart Working Office.

Flexible working once seemed like a futuristic idea but thanks to enabling technology, real estate rationalisation and staff wishes, it is now becoming mainstream. Philip Vanhoutte, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Europe and Africa for Plantronics suggests us ten tangible tips to make the change within your own organisation.

After looking at the results of 10 studies evaluating more than 16,000 people, a 2010 Cochrane research review found that self-scheduling work time improved a variety of items, including improved sleep, reduced exhaustion, lowered blood pressure, improved mental health and much more. With such positive results reported and a personal genuine passion for smarter working, I embarked on a journey to develop a flexible working management policy and new working spaces across Europe for Plantronics.

Below are ten tips on how to make the change within your own organisation.
1) Evaluate your current office situation.
It is essential to keep pace with the modern workforce and help employees stay connected and content no matter where they are.  Evaluate the varying needs of the employees first, where they are located and their personality types, before embarking on this journey. To facilitate the changes we used the Leesman ‘Employee Work Space Satisfaction Survey’ (www.leesman.co.uk) , which, gave our employees a voice in the design and layout of their office space covering three main areas: Bricks (office environment), Bytes (technology) and Behaviours (work practices).
2) Plan thoroughly.
While not always going the way you intended, having a plan in mind before you start is imperative. There are many moving parts to a smarter working space and it’s easy to stray off the course. Talk with experts in interior design, facilities management, IT and human resources to learn what can work best for your situation. Remember, advice is free.
3) Make your employees happiness your main goal.
Throughout the entire process our main goal was to help our employees get the most out of work. The more your employees are on-board and engaged, the better the outcome. If the changes you make do not impact them directly, it is probably not the best decision.
4) Create spaces in the office that are optimised for specific types of work.
In our redesign we employed an acoustic zoning design to meet four critical new office workspaces that focus on the ability to Concentrate (quiet space for focused work); Collaborate (zones to work together); Communicate (vibrant, busy areas for constant good noise,) and Contemplate (time out space for creative inspiration, refuelling, relaxation). These four spaces satisfy the needs of our busy employees and make for a healthier and happier office environment.
5) Make stellar space acoustics a top priority.
Offices, no matter their location, are often riddled with constant distractions and loud noises. In our journey towards new smarter working offices, we incorporated the ABCs of space acoustics – Absorption, Blocking and Covering. Using panels and textiles to absorb the sound, sound barriers for blocking, and the generation of anti-noise help to keep distractions at bay in the new area.
6) Get the right technology.
Address communication requirements for a dispersed workforce that centres on identity and presence for all employees at all times. This ensures everyone feels “checked in”. Desk phones were replaced by softphones making laptops and smartphones the de facto means of voice communications.  Presence was aided by applications such as Microsoft Lync and CISCO Jabber. And we made sure we had fully optimised PCs, network bandwidth and voice quality of service, especially over Wi-Fi.
7) Don’t forget training.
All the best technology in the world won’t be of any help without all employees knowing how to use it to its fullest potential.  Take the time for questions and a period of transition until the technology starts to work for your business.
8) Establish trust.
Do not let managers feel they are losing ‘sight’ of employees and employees feel they are losing ‘sight’ of their goals. Having the right technology so that everyone feels connected is one step. The other is to ensure all team members expectations, practices and procedures within the business are aligned so there are no surprises. This isn’t always easy but if you identify the correct training agent to support this required change, managers will embrace a distributed workforce, you will build a high performing distributed team and enable effective communication with team members.
9) Take time to evaluate the progress.
It is easy to forget to take a step back and evaluate how the change is being received. Be sure to check in with your employees and allow for training and time to transition.  To do this, we had Leesman come back after the redesign and found that there was a 40% increase in workspace satisfaction. On top of that we realized  30% reduction of costs of real estate, 60% decrease of absent employees, and an increase of 20% of the overall happiness of staff and clients. That’s moving the needle.
Enjoy the journey.
Simple enough to say, but its important to enjoy the positive changes being implemented in your workplace. From the lighting placement to employee happiness.  People are the key to smarter working, always keep that in mind.

If it isn’t clear already, I am a true smarter working convert. Despite other companies going the opposite direction, I am believer that if you give your employees the right tools, correct space and trust them with the freedom to choose how they work, they will do truly amazing things. I have seen it happen.

Text by Philip Vanhoutte, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Europe and Africa for Plantronics. Plantronics has new smarter working offices in the UK, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. With more to follow.

The photos show the Plantronics offices in Madrid.