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5 | 2011
Eric Richert: Developing work environments is organization`s joint effort
Why organizations should develop their work environments? What are the benefits and how it can be done? Eric Richert has worked in the field of work environment development for over 20 years and he has seen success stories as well as failed attempts. Eric is one the pioneers of holistic work environment development an he`s working as consultant with VTT in VTT WorkWays program. VTT WorkWays` visio is to create new work environment, where top level research capabilities are strengthen with new technology and modern work environment innovations Eric Richert, who is an architecht, has always been interested in different work ways that people have and how similar these work ways are in different cultures and age groups. Eric`s path in work environment began in the late 1980`s at Sun Microsystems – Over 15 years at Sun, we developed a work environment development program that had an effect on all 35 000 personnel at Sun. This program eventually became the number one reason for employee satisfaction. - When we started this at Sun, we didn`t have any model or framework, but we started by doing and researching. Soon we discovered that if the goal is to design work environment, we really have to understand how work is done in an organization. --> See video for more of Eric`s thoughts (0.00-3.55)

Designing work enviroments isn`t just about he facilities
When Eric talks about work environments, he isn’t talking about just the physical spaces. – We understand work environment as a socio-cultural, technical and physical environment. This includes organizations culture, physical environments such as buildings and also ICT solutions. Eric underlines that it`s essential to recognize what are different ways of working in a organization so that work environment can be developed into the right direction. – Developing work environment and people`s work ways are so-called wicked problems that don`t have right or wrong solutions. There are solutions that are better than others. It`s clear that developing work environment can create benefits for individuals, teams and organizations. – For instance, for individual this can more flexible work, more choices and more time, which are acquired by developing work ways and environment. For organizations , the benefits can be global reach and increasing efficiency, for example. --> Want ot hear more about the benefits? See the interview video (3.58-7.00)

- For VTT, it`s for instance highly important to assure environments and infrastructure that supports top level research. But also it`s essential to create and environment that supports collaborative as well as individual work that facility creativity and innovation.

Mega trends thrust organizations to change
According to Eric, there are two factors and boost change: forces of work that force organizations to change and enablers that enable the change. - Globalization has been a big trend for a long time. Almost every organization is now in a global operational environment. Important enablers have been ICT technology and working spaces that support and enhance more diverse ways of working. These factors mean that there are know-how and markets everywhere around the world and that the possibility to communicate and collaborate from anywhere, anytime, are essential things. -> See video One major challenge is the distance created by mobility of people. – Work environment has to support people to tackle distance very easily. It `s not just about remote work, but in general about where people do their work whether it be at client, doing individual work or group work, working when travelling, or at home office etc. Rarely do people work at the same place for the whole day. This means that organizations socio-cultural, physical and technical environments have to adapt to these requirements. --> More thoughts on how work environments affects people on interview video (7.04-10.10). - For instance me and my colleagues work with VTT mostly from our San Francisco office with a ten hour time difference. What`s also very important are the organization`s social practices and habits. People have to adapt new ways of working, agree on common rules and respect them. - People can be accustomed to a way of working and strucutre that is more or less based on assumption of people coming work at a certain place. When developing work environment, the challenge is to create an alternative structure that is more based on social agreenment of different work ways than on physical spaces. Second, for managers, it`s more important to focus on work`s results, not on how the work is done. It`s important to set up common rules that apply in different work ways.

Developing work environment is a program not a project
Eric know by experience that organizations that just seek work spaces optimization and decreasing costs will face difficulties along the way. – The most common mistakes that organizations made are firstly approaching work environment development as a project that has an end. Secondly, it only focuses on the physical environments. Thirdly, it is done just for cost purposes. When these mistakes occur, work environment development doesn`t become part of organizations DNA. Organizations also shouldn`t aim for perfection in everything, because they never will achieve it. – Organizations that are committed that by trying, doing, measuring and developing, to succeed, will also accomplish it. For example, prototyping is important in a sense that it enables trying different things on a smaller scale first. –> See the interview video for more thoughts on how VTT would look like in near future (10.15->) Developing work ways and work environment is also whole organization`s effort so the bases of development has to come from within the organization. – Without a compelling reasons and



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of development has to come from within the organization. – Without a compelling reasons and goals, it`s hard to activate the whole organization. In this, workshop-practices, where people from the organizations discuss about these compelling reasons, are in key positions. We held a workshop at VTT in April where VTTers already found dozens of compelling reasons why work environment and work ways development should be done. These compelling reasons will help VTT to develop its work environments and enhance VTTers work ways. Text and picture: Sami Stormbom