When Almi Sverige began a transformation project to review and adjust their strategy and brand, Almi Jönköping also chose to review its premises within the project. With the Kinnarps Next Office process, they have created a working environment that supports both the employees and the newly defined brand.
It all started when Almi was going to move to new premises. For many years, Almi has occupied space in one of Jönköping's landmarks, in the so-called 'Öriket', beautifully located by Munksjö Lake in central Jönköping. But the contract was nearing its end, and instead the landlord offered new premises in the same building, with the opportunity to renovate and rebuild as Almi wished. So it began as a renovation, but developed into a change process says Johanna Donker, who was project manager for the transformation.
"At the same time as we were about to move to new offices, we also received indications from group management that the entire Almi Group was going to implement a new strategy and embark on a brand journey. We were going to change our position, so that in future Almi will focus primarily on business customers with the will and the ability to grow, and have a more proactive position. Work on the brand would also result in a completely new graphic profile with a new look and new colours. All this went hand in hand with our ideas of moving to a more contemporary way of working that supports our work tasks and activities. If we were going to undertake this large-scale office journey anyway, we wanted to do it with the position change as a compass. We saw an opportunity to use the transformation in our way of working to implement the new Almi. We wanted our new offices to be a reflection of the new Almi, and to practise what we preach."
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"Kinnarps immediately confirmed that we were on the right track, and gave us the tools to go further in the process. We appreciated the fact that Kinnarps were so transparent, and gave us the opportunity to work with the steps of the Next Office process we were interested in. We felt that they wanted to create the best solutions for our requirements, and were not only intent on selling their own furniture. We cooperated on an equal basis."
Johanna Donker, business advisor and project manager for the transformation at Almi Jönköping
The project was implemented during 2017, and the new premises were ready to move into in November of that year. When Kinnarps began their involvment in the project, a pilot study had already been conducted and an initial zoning proposal had been drawn up. The cooperation with Kinnarps began with a kick-off at Kinnarps' head quarters, where Almi's project group found out about inspiring office environments and talked about vision, goals, threats and opportunities and discussed the different zones the office had been divided into. This was followed by a workshop for the employees, held at Kinnarps in Jönköping. Kinnarps Next Office Concept Manager, Henrik Axell, also gave a lecture about the working environments and working methods of the future, to get the participants to think along new lines and inspire them to work in new ways.
"The business has employees with a wide range of roles – some work in finance and others work with a strong outward orientation in customer meetings, which means that they have different requirements. Confidentiality was another challenge to face. We went through all this, and then created an etiquette guide, describing the shared behaviours that the employees have decided will apply in the various zones. We also discussed workplace ergonomics, with a focus on movement, varied environments and acoustic solutions," says Henrik Axell.
On the basis of what emerged from the workshop, different zones were fitted with products and solutions to support the requirements of the staff. New and existing furniture was combined to meet Almi's wish for a focus on reuse and recycling.
"We decided to reuse all the office chairs, which were in good shape, the big conference table, and a lot of other furniture that went well with the new items. This is important for us from a sustainability point of view, but another factor is that we are spending public money and we have a responsibility to use it wisely."
"Even though Almi wanted an open environment, there is always room for privacy in the premises. It's important to emphasise that activity-based doesn't necessarily mean open environments and open-plan offices – the decisive factor is always the needs of the employees!"
Henrik Axell, Next Office Concept Manager, Kinnarps Sweden
The premises have meeting rooms to suit all requirements. The meeting rooms for external meetings include everything from the more traditional conference room with a conference table and chairs to active meetings. The room with the Hal height-adjustable meeting table in combination with Frisbee stools is very popular.
The most popular workplaces are in the low-focus zone with the Series[P] height-adjustable desk, which quickly fills up in the morning. Here, employees can talk and discuss as much as they want, and many of them have found that cooperation across divisional boundaries has improved. Before the transformation, a comprehensive analysis of the organisation's document management process was carried out. As much as possible of the physical documentation has been digitalised. Adjacent to the low-focus zone there are also small telephone rooms and meeting rooms for up to two people.
For employees who want more concentration at work, there are a number of options. They can choose to work in a medium-focus open office area, or use one of the rooms intended for high-focus work. All workplaces have ergonomic height-adjustable Series[P] desks. Adjacent to these areas there are also team rooms and workrooms for up to two people. One of the workrooms is also equipped with a treadmill for those who want to get some exercise in a new way.
The lounge and lunch room are next to the entrance and the public areas. Here Kinnarps, along with Almi, have found functional solutions that support the various activities. For example, there is a projector and projector screen for both internal and external presentations and lectures. Nearby there are also several meeting rooms used for both external and internal meetings. The entrance was a high-priority part of the project – here, a pleasant oasis has been created, with music and attractive seating furniture.
"Our new offices support me in my leadership role. We can now choose our work setting depending on the task, but many of us choose to work in the open areas. This means that I get a lot of 'crosstalk' from everything I do, which gives me opportunities to connect with my colleagues and provide input. Our new office environment supports cooperation and improves our delivery dates to customers. It's also easier for me as a manager to get feedback on what I do. I also think that new employees in a business get a foothold in the organisation and a grasp of the job faster in this kind of environment."
Carl Nyström, ceo Almi Jönköping
The new premises are generous. The total area is 640 square metres, shared by 25-30 employees. If you work out the number of workplaces – from desk places to meeting rooms and other settings – each employee has five places at their disposal. This was a strategic move to allow easy and flexible growth with more employees.
"We find that everything works really well. We can see that this way of working is a method of enabling management to implement the new Almi faster. But at the same time we have torn the walls down and transformed the employees' roles. We have full respect for the fact that this is a change process that requires continuous follow-up," says Johanna Donker.
Follow-up takes place every month to check how the changes are functioning and whether there are any solutions in the office that need adjusting.
"It's important for us to be clear about whether it's really a certain chair that's causing a problem, or whether we need to change our behaviour. It's easy to fall back into your old ways and habits. So we discuss, adjust and add things all the time."
In cooperation with Kinnarps, there has also been a follow-up workshop where the employees and Next Office Concept Manager Henrik Axell compared expectations, made suggestions for improvement and adjusted the business's etiquette guide.
"Measuring improvements in efficiency and productivity is more difficult, of course, but I feel that we have improved and that there is potential for further improvement."
Almi also has a council, the ENAS council, which acts as a support for management.
"We regularly review the employees' job satisfaction and the working environment with a survey. We've had high ratings on the questions about job satisfaction every time – the employees are also really proud of their working environment. Measuring improvements in efficiency and productivity is more difficult, of course, but I feel that we have improved and that there is potential for further improvement," says Carl Nyström, CEO of Almi Jönköping.
"In the follow-up workshop we did with Kinnarps, we focused on two questions: what can we do even better to improve the customer experience, and how can we raise efficiency even more in the existing environment? The revision of the etiquette guide was also good. Among other things, we fine-tuned the various focus areas and the balance between low-focus and medium-focus. Among the conclusions we came to was that it should be clear that it's fine to integrate and converse even in the medium-focus zone, but only within certain limits."
The results of Almi Jönköping's change project have also had a big impact beyond the walls of the office. In her role as project manager for the ENAS project, Johanna Donker has received the Innovator of the Year award in the Almi Group. The Jönköping office acts as a exemplar for other Almi offices that want to make the journey, based on the project's final report. The ripples are spreading across the water!