3. How do you integrate newcomers to your team in The One building?
Marie : This question is not applicable. The integration was done remotely during the whole COVID period. Newcomers will have to work in a hybrid mode like the rest of us.
Sam : So far, my team has not yet integrated a newcomer.
4. How does working in The One building compare with your previous office?
Marie : I was lucky enough to occupy an open space that we had designed with the OIB. The spaces corresponded to the team’s activity. The furniture was adapted to the great flexibility.
Ana : As far as working in The One is concerned, from what I have seen there is no comparison! I think that as soon as the offices are regularly occupied, the impact of this new way of working will be visible. EPSO’s permanent panel members have been allocated offices in the Van Maerlant building VM 18, which allows us to work in good conditions and not worry about returning to the office regularly.
Sam : I prefer The One to MO34 and SC11, both of which I found old-fashioned.
5. Which aspects of the new office are an advantage you think could be replicated elsewhere?
Marie : The concepts of spaces according to the type of activity, provided that there is genuine teamwork.
Ana : This type of office arrangement works well for certain types of services where the exchange and sharing of experience/information is essential. It already exists elsewhere and, I think, it works well.
Sam : Heads of Unit do not have their own office, so managers appear more accessible to their staff and engaging with them is less formal than before. Talking to colleagues in your direct team is easier as we are all within the same ‘pod’ (before we were in our own offices). The preparation for the move in DG HR was well done with regular consultation meetings, and troubleshooting.
6. What works less well?
Marie : The difficulties of managing the spaces that will undoubtedly take place (on the DG HR website there is already an announcement that the meeting rooms will be used as buffers in the event of too many people), the common spaces (showers, common changing rooms, access to the bicycle parking areas) do not comply with the texts on health and safety at work; the lifting tables are insufficient in number. It seems that there was no occupational physician to give an opinion and advice on the layout.
Ana : On the other hand, the open space does not work well for functions where an individual has to do meticulous work while being careful to be discreet and keep files confidential. It can be very stressful and error prone.
Sam : The lifts are slow so it takes more or less 10 minutes to reach higher floors from the ground floor. As we bring our own laptop to the desk in the mornings, logging on takes a bit longer than in the previous building. Staff in other teams/pods are careful to not disturb others or to make noise, so people speak in quiet voices out of respect. With time, we should become more comfortable with each other.
7. Does the new office encourage you to come to the office or to telework?
Marie : Unfortunately, this is not the way to look at things.
Ana : It is obvious that if I did not have the opportunity to work at the Van Maerlant, I would avoid coming back to the office as much as possible.
Sam : In general, I have a preference for teleworking but I like going to the new office to see colleagues and to work on team projects together. Lunch at the Berlaymont canteen (opposite) has become a regular occurrence.
8. Do you have anything to add?
Sam : I would give the following advice to staff who are apprehensive about moving to a dynamic office: do not overthink it. It is normal to be nervous in the beginning but the fact that everyone in the DG is moving gives staff (and management) the opportunity to make it a collective success. Do not be afraid to voice your concerns but at the same time, try to see it as an opportunity to work differently and more collaboratively.