New Work @ Swiss Prime Site

In the interview with Emilia Nenakhova, we learn more about the planning, renovation and occupancy of the new areas, as well as the positive effects on corporate culture.

What was so special about this renovation?

For me, the fact that I had to carry out two functions was especially extraordinary. I was both part of the project management and on the other hand, I was later a user. In order to approach the project in a neutral manner, focusing on the needs, I have collected the inputs and expectations from my colleagues in many discussions and taken them into account as much as possible.

What are the stages of such an office planning project?

It depends. In principle, first you need to analyse the initial situation and the objectives. Then you prepare the budget and establish a time frame. Afterwards, there is the more in-depth project planning. This stage involves specifications, selection of stakeholders, workshops and the preparation of detailed studies for the area and materials, as well as the corresponding scheduling and relocation planning. During the implementation phase, the coordination and monitoring of the scheduling are central. Finally, deadlines and the cost budget must be complied with.

This sounds like a ‘moving target’. How did you proceed?

The most important thing was to involve my colleagues. For this purpose, we created a team of ambassadors made up of employees from each department. The regular exchange with our ‘sponsors’ was also important.

To what extent were employees able to take part in the decision-making?

Numerous workshops allowed us to identify the needs. We also voted democratically on some matters. Sometimes, this was straightforward, whereas other times longer voting conversations took place.

Which stakeholders were involved?

Internally, individual representatives from the management, our ‘sponsors’, as well as the ambassador team, the representatives of the employees. Externally, we were able to benefit from the valuable support from the workspace consultants of our furniture supplier. Their professionalism and creativity helped us a lot. Their pragmatic approach was a perfect fit for us.

Have you encountered any challenges or hurdles?

Delivery times and meeting deadlines are the two main ones. And then there is budget control. Moreover, structural issues such as supply and fire protection played a central role.

Is there anything that helped you keep track of such a large project?

Disciplined time management. I know it sounds tedious and boring – it is, actually. However, without it, we wouldn’t have finished today! Therefore, despite unexpected challenges, it’s imperative to keep an eye on the schedule and try to patch the unexpected up, a bit like ‘expecting the unexpected’. Good planning reduces stress. Moreover, it helped that the ‘building site’ was only a few metres from my workplace, so I was able to be there quickly.

At the same time, this was a challenge, as we were rebuilding on the 34th floor during regular activity.

In such a project, can sustainable aspects also be taken into account?

Of course! Sustainability was a requirement. Our goal was to create office spaces according to a ‘healthy building’ approach. Thus, we thought about how we could further improve air quality, which was already good. We found a special mineral paint that, as well as looking fabulous, has air-purifying properties. Another example is the acoustics. We implemented various ways to help people concentrate. Many are Cradle to Cradle certified. And to round it all off, plants of all kinds.

Which flexible elements feature in the newly created office landscape?

We wanted to create an environment in which different activities and forms of work can be carried out. For example, a regular office workstation can be booked for half-day or day by day online. For short stays, the Prime Tower also offers the possibility to use one of the numerous flexible workplaces and work in a concentrated manner. For smaller occasional tasks, there are sofa corners and standing desks. After just over six months, we see that this concept works well.

Do you think that the new office environment has also an impact on the corporate culture?

That was one of our sub-goals. So far, the feedback has been extremely positive. Thanks to the aspects we mentioned before, the employees were meant to meet each other and have conversations, thus improving the internal flow of information.

What is or was your greatest wish in connection with this project?

I was hoping to create a work environment that would make people happy on Sunday night to be back at work on Monday. When I look around, I feel like we’ve gotten pretty close to that goal. [laughs]