A Glimpse Into the Workplace of the Future

June 25, 2013 by Mark Yolton

… And How SAP is Re-Inventing It for Ourselves and Our Customers

The way the workplace is constructed — physically, virtually, and managerially — can have a critical impact on employee productivity, passion, and innovation.

The statement above is the main thesis in a new report from the Deloitte Center for the Edge titled “Work Environment Redesign.”

SAP was asked (and we were honored) to contribute to this report, as the SAP Community Network (SCN) is viewed as a best practice in how it uses community to accelerate talent development and performance improvement.

While over 75 companies were researched for this report, SAP was one of only 9 companies to be featured as a case study.  (The other case studies included prestigious brands such as Zappos and the Mayo Clinic.)

Check out the full SAP story here which was based on interviews with Chip Rodgers and Christopher Kim.

The entire report is a fascinating read for anyone interested in employee development and higher levels of company performance. Deloitte’s distinguished authors (John Hagel, and John Seely Brown, and Tamara Samoylova) argue that the work environment — not just the physical space, but also its management systems and practices, and its connectedness to spur collaboration through virtual means — should be redesigned with three overarching goals in mind (see graphic below).

“Work Environment Redesign” — SAP and SCN on the Forefront

At the risk of over-simplifying, please allow me to highlight each of the three key goals of a best-case work environment (physical, virtual, managerial) as defined by Deloitte.  To make it real, I’ll give examples of how SCN and other teams at SAP are embracing specific design principles to achieve these goals.

Goal #1 – Define High-Impact Challenges: Help workers and teams to focus on areas of highest business impact, learning, and sustainable improvement

  • Real-time feedback – SCN’s discussion forums and blogs are an organic source of ongoing feedback for both SAP and our customers and partners. In addition, SAP Idea Place allows customers to submit product ideas to SAP teams, with over 380 ideas already implemented and hundreds more on the way.
  • Rapid experimentation – AppHaus is a new development team at SAP with a deliberate startup culture based in Silicon Valley. They’ve been building consumer-focused apps with 90-day development cycles including Recalls Plus and My Runway. Who knew that SAP built apps for parents and fashionistas?

Goal #2 – Strengthen High-impact Connections: Enable workers to connect with people who matter, both inside and outside the organization

Goal #3 – Amplify Impact: Augment worker impact with the right infrastructure

  • Adaptable space – This week we are celebrating the opening of three redesigned buildings on our Palo Alto campus.
    • The buildings have essentially been gutted and reconstructed to include features such as modular partitions, open workspaces, and writable surfaces and walls.
    • The renovation will serve as a model for workspace flexibility and will help break down silos, support design thinking approaches, and encourage serendipitous collaboration.

You can access the full Deloitte report on “Work Environment Redesign and their library of case studies to read additional stories behind Zappos, the Mayo Clinic and others who are reshaping the future of the workplace.

What other ideas do you have for improving the work environment? What have you seen at other companies that is working well or not working well?

This post originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

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