Post-COVID Workplace

A Case for the Physical Place and Serendipity

Herbert Grebenc’s Vision On The Future of Work

DG_BMW – Portraits Dr Grebenc – black&white thumbnail

360° spoke to Grebenc to understand how the pandemic has affected BMW’s business, and what opportunities he sees as a result.

 

“Pause” Button to Rethink

360º: How has COVID changed your perspective on the future of your business and the industry?

Herbert Grebenc:

Never before have we experienced a crisis resulting in a complete lockdown of operations, as was the case with COVID-19. We are still working hard to recover from this situation. Given the fact that a proper vaccination might not be available very soon, we are developing a longer-term perspective: what it means to live, work, and behave successfully under the restrictions of COVID-19 prevention measures.

Changing Perspectives

360º: Which trends do you think are here to stay, and will change the way you plan to serve your customers?

HG:

Within the target systems of corporations, we will have to address not only economic success or sustainability, but individual health and safety, wellbeing, and societal solidarity.
This will be critical in developing products and business models. And there is already a signal on the business horizon: Business models based on crowding people will have difficulty to define a future for them.

“Coming together in the workplace to socialize and collaborate will become the greatest purpose of the new office.”

Herbert Grebenc

In Practice

360º: We learned a lot while working from home – why do you think we should still go to the office?

HG:

First of all, for BMW Group, the flexible working time instruments such as mobile work have long been a matter of course – that was already proven before the pandemic, and we will continue to do so afterward. Working together in the office offers quick coordination or proximity to the vehicle, which is essential for any creative solution. We have created new working environments, especially in the IT and development sectors, which offer attractive working spaces.

The COVID-19 crisis urged us to develop things faster than ever expected. And many of these developments used the power of digitalization — for example, home office, digital learning, and schooling, online retail, etc. As an opportunity, we can adopt some of those habits now to our future work. However, in the hard moments of physical lockdown, we all experienced the loss of social contacts and cultural contributions to public life. Premium individual mobility is already able to offer not only sustainability but also a high level of health protection and ease of life.

Empathy – A Value Of The Office

360º: What is the role of the physical workplace for your company, and how does it help your organization to achieve its goals?

HG:

We definitely will utilize the benefits of a virtual world. A mixture of analog and virtual meetings could allow more people to avoid peak times of congestion on their way from and to the office.

Offices need to focus more on fast social interaction than in the past. And we will experience more event types of activities in the office. So the office has to act more like a theatre or convention center, and lead times to switch between different office modes depending on our needs, e. g. collaboration, meeting mode or focus work.

Herbert Grebenc is Former Executive Vice President, Corona Competence Team, BMW Group

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