Transitioning to 100% Unassigned Seating – Case Study – Philips

Transitioning to 100% Unassigned Seating: A case study on workplace innovation

Moving employees to unassigned office seating

Philips’ Workplace Innovation (WPI) initiative was an introduction in North America of the alternative workspace strategy developed at corporate headquarters in the Netherlands. Stegmeier Consulting Group (SCG) led the transition from private offices and dedicated cubicles to an open shared-space environment, with 100 percent unassigned spaces. This project, in Andover, MA, was the first outside of Europe for Philips Real Estate group, which is responsible for a 20 million square foot portfolio in North America and Latin America, supporting a workforce of 40,000+ people.

Improving workforce mobility to reduce real estate costs

Over time, numerous acquisitions by the corporation resulted in a complex organization with many sub-cultures. Weak adoption of the company’s flexible work arrangements by managers presented a significant risk to the project team. Without increasing workforce mobility, the implementation of the alternative workspace strategy would not produce the targeted ratio of employee to workspace. Other challenges included transitioning from heavy reliance on paper to electronic storage; from a culture that permitted highly-personalized cubicles to a clean-desk policy in a free address environment; and managers’ resistance to supervising employees they would not see.

Preparing managers and employees for a shift to unassigned office seating

In our role of leading transition management, SCG was responsible for efforts in managing change, risk mitigation, development of communications strategy and plan, communications content and materials, and employee engagement. SCG was responsible for translating the workplace strategy and transition management directives established in the Netherlands, and also for Americanizing the desired behavioral changes to ensure quick buy-in and sustainable work behaviors and protocols. In enhancing Philips’ pre-existing toolkit, SCG incorporated a number of our proprietary tools, ensuring that its corporate workplace standards would be implemented, while still adapting for the flexibility required of a different local culture.

The evolution of workplace innovation

SCG has been re-engaged by Philips to support the company’s relocation from Andover to Cambridge in 2020, with emphasis on change management and the employee experience of working in Cambridge Crossing, where they will be surrounded by a diversity of amenities, activities, and community events.

Consulting services to help companies implement unassigned seating

Does this sound like something that could help your company navigate the waters of a workplace change? If you’re interested in strategic planning and change implementation to align your workforce and workplace strategies, take the first step by reaching out to Stegmeier Consulting Group through the form below.