According to the GSMA – the global trade body for mobile operators – there are now more than 8 billion mobile connections on Earth and more than 5 billion unique mobile subscribers. A live tracker on the association’s website shows these figures growing exponentially quicker than the global population.
The proliferation of mobile phone technology has transformed the world in profound ways. It is smaller, smarter and more altruistic. It has made instant communication from one end of the world to the other possible. Birgit Imponen, Facilities Manager for Swedish network provider Tele2, says that the business has spent almost the entirety of its existence telling customers that its networks can help them work from anywhere.
Unfortunately, however, the ability to work from anywhere – or, perhaps more accurately, the most optimal place for whichever task is at hand – isn’t a luxury that Tele2 employees have always enjoyed. But the business recently moved from three outmoded offices to one new, co-located space in Kista, a thriving technology hub and business district in the northern suburbs of Stockholm. Imponen says that the previous buildings, which all featured open spaces and traditional desks, did not contain any additional environments that could support a variety of work activities.
Tele2 enlisted the help of activity-based working (ABW) consultancy Veldhoen to find out what employees would need from a new workspace to make them feel most comfortable and productive. The exercise quickly established that the organisation’s employees worked individually 60% of the time and collaboratively 40% of the time. And it became a primary objective to switch these percentages around in the new office space – which the organisation did.
Approximately 1,800 people moved into the new building in Kista, from three different operations of the Tele2 business. Through the Leesman survey and a separate occupancy study, the organisation determined that the previous offices also suffered from a lack of ‘closed room’ space where employees could focus. “We didn’t have any small rooms in our old offices and now we have more than 100, where you can work with high focus and then go back to the collaborative areas when you are finished,” says Imponen.