The future of work

Flexible offices, virtual conferences and agile teams: companies such as Microsoft are pioneering the design of innovative working environments and deploying new technologies. Sabine Bendiek, Microsoft Germany, talked to us about new forms of work in the age of digital transformation.

Sabine Bendiek on...

... innovative offices: “The ‘digital transformation’ topic is one we at Microsoft took seriously at a very early stage. Our offices in Munich are a showcase for the new working world. They were created together with the Fraunhofer Institute and were viewed by more than 50,000 visitors in 2017.”

… flexible workplaces: “Our employees can choose where they work – so an office suddenly has a new function: it becomes an attractive anchor site for cooperation, for exchange, for communication. It has to possess the greatest possible flexibility so as to meet the requirements of different teams.”

… work-life balance: “For us the concept is obsolete – we have replaced it with the expression ‘work-life flow’. This means that work and leisure time are combined to best suit the employee’s personal life situation. Staff can choose where it makes most sense to work, be it from home, here in the office, or at other locations with a purely virtual team.”

… new technologies: “Starting with a find-me app, which we developed to ascertain where a colleague is right now, there are a number of technologies which are changing the working day – virtual conference technologies for example. A large-screen device such as Surface Hub, which is already being used at Microsoft, brings together voice and messaging from telephones and images, and simultaneously takes notes and distributes these online. The second topic which is increasingly coming to the fore is holograms, and artificial intelligence will also play a key role with all products in the future.”

…holograms: “This is a really important topic in Germany. It is already possible to sit in a room with holograms. The HoloLens was an important step forward to interacting with holograms. The interest on the part of industry is enormous. We also see possibilities for its deployment in the development process in the automotive sector and in mechanical engineering.”

… the competition for talent: “We are firmly convinced that knowledge work is one of the biggest opportunities for us in Germany. There is a real battle for the right people at the moment, especially in the areas of technical knowledge, programming capabilities, and for people who understand both technology and problem solving.”

... changing customer requirements: “The fully digital customer expects a totally new experience. This is changing the way people work together and solve problems. As a consequence it means we need more virtual, fluid teams which have to be able to work together very closely and cooperatively with the help of technology.”

… a new management culture: “Digital transformation is not just a matter of technological progress, it is also a question of a new understanding of what management involves. The main task for managers today is to bring teams of knowledge managers together in very fluid environments.”

…digital transformation: “In my opinion this is the topic of the future in Germany. It will be so important for us to have the entrepreneurial courage to take decisions, to try things out, to make mistakes and see what works. Digital transformation in the workplace has a lot to do with cultural change.”