Workspace Design Show Amsterdam

Innovative Approaches to Energise Modern Office Environments: Insights from Miro’s Learning Lab

Daaf Serné, MCR, SLCR,
Global Head of Workplace at Miro

At Miro, we have been experimenting over the last 2 years with, what we call, our ‘Learning Lab’ strategy where we have been truly working hand in hand with our employees. I believe for most of us in the industry, we are here to serve our internal customers the best possible way. Happy employees mean higher workplace satisfaction rates, better collaboration (building trust) and we are potentially even able to connect this to increase in occupancy. Who does not want to work in a thriving office environment?

Few essential elements which can lead to future workplace success:

1. Double down on employee engagement (with everything that you do…)

Although this might sound easy, it truly isn’t. It requires putting A: a lot of thought into the ‘why’ followed by B: the ‘what’. Advocate internally for what you believe in is the best Workplace Strategy for your company and take your employees on the journey with you. It always helps to connect your company goals (purpose, mission, vision, etc.) to your Workplace Strategy goals – ultimately everyone needs to understand where ‘they’ fit in. From here, start putting together your action plan & timeline, if possible with your internal comms partner, to ensure that you are aligned to the company narrative. Depending on the type of project, build an activity (+ associated budget) around the key milestones i.e. design requirements gathering workshops, design reveals, etc. and set clear expectations with your employees. It’s key for employees to understand their level of contribution and how much time it requires. In some cases it also helps to incentivize by providing special swag, early access to information, etc.

2. Feedback is a gift – but also action on it

The saying ‘Trust is earned in drops and lost in buckets’ fits well with the feedback theme… Many companies collect a ton of feedback, but are we all aware that when you ask for feedback, you also have to go back to your employees and follow up, set out actions and be super transparent – also if the message is not as nice? I believe it comes down to being intentional about your feedback/listening strategy. Do not beat around the bush, treat them as adults because sugar coating is something that people can see through immediately. Build a robust feedback strategy which captures your everyday feedback (to improve services, etc.) and also look at the bigger picture feedback (pre & post surveys to measure (investment) success or overall workplace satisfaction. Important here as well is to drill down on the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ and don’t be afraid to assess both on an ongoing basis – change can be good!

3. Empower employees and co-designing your spaces 

When I talk about how we empower employees and co-design our spaces (on Miro), I also ask others about their opinion. Some really great responses, but people typically say  ‘we will lose control if that happens, they will ask for crazy things’ or ‘why on earth would you do this?’. We believe that empowering co-designing spaces can lead to greater outcomes. It’s all about setting clear boundaries, giving people a ‘canvas’ with set building (lego) blocks and ideally those building blocks are based on verified internal customer data. In the last two years we have been collecting qualitative and quantitative data for most of our locations to understand our employee’s WorkStyles where we zoomed in on individual & group needs as it relates to, for example, focus and collaborative work. The data has been synthesized with support of one of our workplace partners (SpacIV) and translated into ‘space modules’. During the design of our new Amsterdam campus, we created a ‘neighborhood builder’ on our platform, allowing employees to co-design beyond their usual desks. Working in this way might add more time to your project schedule but we believe your employees will have a true sense of ownership.

4. Stay flexible & experiment

Flexibility is key for any office space. For me it comes down to being intentional about how you apply ‘flex’ in your designs as for some this is still being perceived as ‘expensive’. But is it more expensive? Are you considering the positive impact you can make on the sustainability front as well? In a few of our hubs, we have been applying our partner circular model, NorNorm, up to 100% of the spaces. Why? Because we actually want to experiment and change as the demand keeps changing over time. Besides this, it allows us to spend CAPEX on elements that are ‘worth’ depreciating and it also guarantees us that the products will ‘circulate’ after it has left our office. It’s quick, easy and the way to go forward.