Post-COVID Workplace

Culture and the Work Experience

Michael Schmutzer’s Vision On The Future of Work

Michael Schmutzer thumbnail

360 spoke with Michael Schmutzer about the new role of the physical workspace and how to make the office more resilient.

 

Socialize + Quality + Flexibility

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

Michael Schmutzer:

The pandemic has drastically changed the way we work, and it is not over yet. At Design Offices, we acted early, already in May, we were certified by the B.A.D. (Occupational Health and Safety and Occupational Health Care) for a safe working environment. Three aspects have changed: the physical workspace has a new meaning, becoming a social environment - a place where we meet. Second, there’s a stronger desire for exclusivity; our customers prefer smaller venues and a space choose by purpose and function, which is reflected by the ambiance.

Finally, the aspect of flexibility; this aspect is an excellent opportunity for the coworking industry. Companies save fixed costs and have the chance to try out different working scenarios without significant investments.

Digital Experiences Need Offline Encounters

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

MS:

Generally, workplaces range from corporate offices, corporate coworking offices to working from home, and the public office (e.g., cafés) — all made possible through digitalization and technological developments. However, the more dominant digital becomes, the stronger our need for personal exchange and analog encounters will be. We need colleagues, we want collaboration, and we want working environments with high quality, privacy and exclusivity. At Design Offices we developed two new products in recent months: the "DO Member" membership program and "Work Loft,” an exclusive rental concept for companies that need more space.

“We want to work with other people and develop ideas together; then, we are satisfied, and new ideas arise.”

Michael Schmutzer

Every Task Requires Its Space

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

MS:

Our home is our home, not a professional work environment. Some might have a fully-equipped den with functioning technology and ergonomics, but these are exceptions. Usually, working from home decreases productivity. In the last months, we learned that working from home works for focused work, but we need social interaction as humans for collaboration. Before, many of us thought that we could only work at the company's headquarters, preferably from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and under the supervisor's watchful eye. That point of view changed as well.

Wellbeing Ambiance = Light + Air + Acoustic + Humans

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

MS:

I believe the workplace has to adjust to the assignment and not vice versa. Additionally, we offer our employees a combination of working from home and corporate coworking at our 40 locations as a flexible module. This mix creates flexibility and motivation. A few years ago, I read in a study that wellbeing at work increases productivity by 60%. At that time, the term "wellbeing ambiance" meant light, air, and acoustics. Now I add the interaction with colleagues. We want to work with other people and develop ideas together; then, we are satisfied, and new ideas arise.

Michael O. Schmutzer is the founder of Design Offices, the leading provider of corporate coworking in Germany. The New Work pioneer implemented his visionary concept for innovative work environments when he established the company in 2008. With a team consisting of a total of some 450 staff, Design Offices now has a presence at more than 40 sites in German cities.

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