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Take a seat, any seat

May 29, 2015

Who needs their own desk? At Atlas Copco’s British head office, a more relaxed office environment has resulted in enhanced productivity.

A Lean office at customer center UK

Imagine coming to work in the morning. You enter the office and place all your belongings in a locker. You find somewhere to sit – it’s not where you sat yesterday. Colleagues are scattered around a large table in an open office space. Two people are chatting in a booth with a spectacular countryside view – a wall image, of course, but very convincing. Someone is having a moment to himself in a private chair with large side wings, whose purpose is to give him privacy. This is reality for the employees at Atlas Copco in Hemel Hempstead, near London, United Kingdom.

Known as Lean Office Activity-Based Working, the facility in Hemel Hempstead emphasizes the importance of interaction and the freedom to sit anywhere.

The first focus when organizing a workplace according to lean is people. People are adding value to the product or service. Everything must be designed around our employees in order to enable optimal working conditions to create value. With good workplace organization in place, it is time to focus on the work itself.

“There’s a space for every­thing, whether it’s a quick chat in the sofa room, formal meetings or catching up on emails at one of the stand-up desks,” says David Fitzgerald, Marketing and Communications Executive. “Anyone can work anywhere very easily. It encourages creativity and collaboration.”

A Lean office at customer center UK

Martine Kenningham, Global HR Program Manager, says “The new way of working has been a great success and I see more and more collaboration taking place. It has really rejuvenated the team spirit in the office.”

Erik Veldhoen, the “father” of Activity-Based Working, explains that the lean office makes employees plan their days in a more structured way. “It enables them to be more productive, active and mindful,” he says. “They simply enjoy working more.”

“This project has been a breath of fresh air and really rejuvenated the team spirit. The new way of working has been a great success and I see more and more collaboration taking place.”

“A group of 15 year olds came to visit the office. One student said, with big excited eyes, ‘This is the kind of place I want to work in’.” says Stuart Smart, Direct Marketing & Sales Analyst.

“The branding aspect of the new office is essential. The vibrant and contemporary look matches the level of Atlas Copco’s product range. It will differentiate the company from its competition and reflect ­Atlas Copco’s position of market leader.” Dick Shipman, responsible for overseeing the building works.

Collaboration Operational excellence Other Creativity Interaction Europe LEAN UK Value creation