The Ways in Which Digital Transformation is Changing the Office Realm

August 2023

Opinion piece by Klaus de Winder


The “New Work” paradigm is impacting all aspects of modern work life. Automation and digitalization act as catalysts of this development. Their use is steadily reducing the need for human handling of routine chores. Living up to their roles as qualified problem solvers, Employees can thus concentrate on tasks beyond the routines.

At the same time, we are witnessing a generational shift. The baby boomers are entering retirement, whereas subsequent generations expect a lot from their employers. Aspects like flat organisational structures, flexible working hours, and geographical autonomy are becoming more and more important in addition to traditional factors like salary and location. Not least, work is supposed to be meaningful. Sustainability, freedom, accountability, purpose, personal development and social responsibility are becoming the main themes of a modern corporate culture. The consequence of this trend being: Companies compete for high-skilled talent while, at the same time, hybrid work models increasingly diffuse the boundaries between job and personal life.

The role of the in-house office is radically shifting in this context. It is becoming the home turf of a given company and of its staff. It acts as gathering place, an identity-forming component and a communication hub. Its architecture should emotionally reflect the company’s values, corporate culture and brand identity. To be sure, there is no better way to build strong emotional ties, and deepens loyalty and motivation in turn. But above all, it strengthens an employee’s feeling to be an autonomously acting part of something larger.

In the context of planning and architecturally structuring modern work spheres, this trend provides specific benchmarks, which differ from one company to the next. Using an intense dialogue, participatory strategies, long-term empirical evidence and data analyses, de Winder Architekten will create a bespoke concept for any given company, tailored to the specific requirements of that company and its employees.

To this end, the change process kicks in as early as the search for a suitable office property. Once the right kind of premises have been found, the process moves on to their conceptual design. Key aspects considered in the creation of a bespoke floor plan include fundamental structuring elements that support a focused work effort, communication points and functional areas as well as places that actively strengthen the corporate culture. The planning effort can actually go as far as the details – including the company’s own furniture. Other integral components of the concept design include the deployment of first-rate, non-harmful and sustainable materials and technology to minimise the carbon footprint, the use of colour and light to create highlights, and the integration of fit-out engineering and acoustic solutions.

Taken together, these process steps create an environment that is not only conducive to the new work format and to personal affiliation, but which practically encourages outperformance while deepening staff loyalty and boosting productivity.

Photographer: Mark Seelen, Hamburg