VNG AG, headquartered in Leipzig, is a gas and gas infrastructure group with over 20 companies in Germany and Europe. The company bundles its activities in the business areas Trading & Sales, Transport, Storage and Biogas. Based on these core competencies, VNG is increasingly focusing on building a sustainable, secure and increasingly climate-neutral energy system for the future.
“With our 2030+ strategy, we want to be proactive shapers of the energy transition,” says Nadine Sieler, Business Partner Human Resources at VNG. “And a holistically conceived strategy for the future naturally also includes the working environment at VNG.”
In order to get a clearer picture of future trends and tendencies, workingwell was brought on board as a New Work expert. The VNG NEXT WORK future report was intended to provide answers to the question of how the company would like to work from 2027. With the help of various analyses and workshops, a holistic picture of the future of work at VNG was created.
In a subsequent discussion with Nadine Sieler (VNG AG), workingwell New Work experts Chiara Polverini and Damaris Dargel reviewed the process and the most important findings from their joint work.
These were the most important questions
The joint project started in the midst of the Corona pandemic in May 2021. The following aspects were the focus of the fundamental question about the future of work at VNG:
- How will the Group operate from 2027 and what will be the function of the office?
- How can cross-functional collaboration that supports the functionality of all corporate divisions be realized?
- Does every employee need their own workstation or is desk sharing a good option?
- How can sustainable solutions not only be embedded in the architecture of the future building, but also integrated into the use of space?
- What skills do our managers need to best support a change for employees?
- Which services can positively influence the wellbeing of employees?
This allowed for a realistic look into the future.
“If you want to look so far ahead in time, it’s important to be visionary and bring the company’s thought leaders to the table,” says Damaris Dargel, Workplace Strategy & Wellbeing at workingwell.
Therefore, a clear corporate vision and a shared understanding of long-term corporate goals should also be the basis of VNG’s change project. Another key success factor identified was a holistic view of the working environment. This once again demonstrated that space can never be viewed in isolation from people and culture. This is because the two dimensions are closely interwoven, and in most cases spatial change can only be successfully implemented with cultural adaptation. Intensive employee involvement and transparent communication were also anchored in the Future Report.
“Our experience has shown that acceptance and enthusiasm for a change project only arise when people are taken along for the ride,” says Chiara Polverini, New Work Culture at workingwell.
A broad-based online survey at company level was able to sketch out a complete picture of working practices and needs. And with a subsequent intensive observation of the space at the VNG site, the findings could be validated once again. Here it was very important to look at all dimensions in depth, to identify dependencies and to marry all findings with the vision, trends and concrete requirements. This is because such a holistic derivation creates trust and understanding among managers and employees.
The transformation of the working world as part of the corporate strategy
“Such a long-term project offers a unique opportunity for companies to establish culture and implement and adapt important measures on the way to spatial transformation,” explains Chiara Polverini. “In this way, employees are more willing to understand and accept change as a constant part of the company’s development.”
The important thing here is not to overwhelm the company with the long-term perspective. This can be achieved by understanding and meaningfully integrating existing projects, work groups, etc., and embedding them in the vision for the future. In this way, both management and employees do not get the feeling that what already exists is outdated or worthless, but rather that it is being consistently built on.
Identifying the future needs of employees
Taking into account the previously identified future trends, VNG-specific future personas were defined in two interactive workshops with a representative group of employees. Representative employees who define the working world of VNG today and in the future were thus brought to life with their specific activities and needs in a professional and private context. “In our workshop sessions, we were able to work through together what changes can be expected in terms of work and behavior patterns as part of the change process,” says Nadine Sieler. “In particular, digital transformation, which has once again accelerated enormously as a result of the Corona pandemic, played a major role here.”
As a “reality check,” the personas were sent through a typical workday as part of “persona journeys.” This provided a perfect representation of which work, service and technology offerings they use, what their spatial requirements are and what challenges they may encounter. A “Persona Journey” map provided a final overview of the needs of the different personas in terms of culture, space, technology and services and enabled an initial indication of a future concept.
These are the most important learnings for VNG
“The future report is now very important for the future strategic direction of VNG,” reports Nadine Sieler (VNG).
In its holistic nature, VNG NEXT WORK is a key indicator for future ways of working, the design of a new working world and the choice of new real estate.
The findings also provided short-term answers to the question of how to work after the Corona era. For example, hybrid collaboration crystallized as a future way of working. In addition, the creation of a common mindset for activity-based working was prioritized. Desk sharing and activity-based working will now be tested in pilot areas.
Overarching, the results from the online survey and the subsequent workshops were extremely important in order to identify current ways of working on the one hand and to be able to consider trends and wishes of employees on the other. The key learnings were:
- VNG will continue to work hybrid.
- Employees will return to the office 2-3 days per week and continue to have the option of working from home office the rest of the time.
- The current office structure does not currently reflect actual work patterns, and action will be needed here in the future.
- Desk sharing and activity-based working will be introduced and implemented.
- Sustainability and efficient use of office space are the focus for VNG.
And how will your company be working in 2027?
Are you also currently faced with the question of what the future of your working world should look like? Our team of experts at workingwell will be happy to help you with your questions about the future.
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