Work@OVH: The workplace as-a-service
By inventing its own professional spaces, OVH has chosen to adapt its workplace to suit the company’s different professions and ways of working, not the other way round. Led by Fanny Villez, the Real Estate team has studied employee needs, and based new workspaces around them.
A high-quality workplace environment is absolutely essential for employees to feel a sense of belonging in their office space, feel comfortable, bond with their colleagues, integrate properly and engage more with their team, their city and their company.
This project, named Work@OVH, prioritises ergonomics, comfort, and practicality. “From the interior architecture on premises to workstation ergonomics, right down to the signage in office spaces, we have sought to foster communication, collaboration and speed. Our aim was to simplify mobility and remote working for employees, which is a large-scale challenge for an international company like OVH. We also wanted to make way for an informal, spontaneous environment that encourages creativity and innovation,” explains Fanny.
To convert this ideal framework into a series of spaces, the Real Estate team took inspiration from the conversations they had with employees (online surveys, workshops, suggestion boxes), and the four biggest trends in companies:
- Flex space. This refers to office spaces not being made personal, and non-exclusive spaces being made available.
- Activity-Based Working (ABW). This enables employees to choose a workstation that suits the tasks and objectives they have on a given day.
- Office sweet office. The concept of the office as a living space —homely atmosphere, decorations, furniture, plants — additions that give a sense of authenticity and comfort. A space that feels personal, and drives inspiration.
- A slow workplace. A calm workplace that helps aid concentration and keeps noise to a minimum, without interruptions.
Three types of employee, six types of adapted workspace
Six workplaces were then defined to suit a range of professions, projects, tasks people might carry out, and times of day. They can also be distinguished according to their features, i.e. whether they are designed for individual or collaborative work, and whether they are formal or informal.
These spaces have icon signs (see below), that show what kind of office space it is, as well as the number of people that can work in it at once. The small circles represent employees, and their proximity to one another shows the nature of their interactions.
These icons represent each space from an aerial view. If the circle is within a shape, like for Share and Stand alone spaces, this means that it is a closed, formal space. In contrast, we distinguish more informal and open spaces.
These kinds of spaces are also suited for certain types of employee. The Real Estate team has studied the different kinds of employee that make up OVH, and found that there were three main types, each with specific needs and behaviours. They are called “proton”, “neutron” and “electron”.
- A proton is someone who is generally sedentary when they do their work — for example a developer, an integrator, a customer support agent or someone in the legal team.
- A neutron is usually a trainer, and is usually part of a team like editorial content, communication, or finance. For their position, they often need to move about and chat to a lot of different people.
- An electron is flexible, as their name shows. A project manager, sales representative or manager always needs to move between different teams.
Adapted workspaces have been designed to suit the needs of each of these employee types.
Firstly, the formal spaces for both individuals and groups are as follows:
- Stand alone. A one-person office in a non-reservable, enclosed cubicle. Designed for employees who need a calm space to concentrate, or take phone calls without being disturbed.
- Share. An enclosed meeting room that can be reserved, where the walls also have panes that can be written on. Suitable for a meeting between several people, or for welcoming partners, candidates and suppliers.
- Update. An open space that can fit around 20 people, storage areas and rows of seats, workshops/labs and boards, for presentations.
And the informal spaces are below:
- Framework. An open space, with workstations that are height-adjustable, mobile conferences, sofas, and whiteboards. For quick chats about ongoing projects, and carrying out short interviews.
- Ping. A temporary space for an individual or a group,with a tablet or table for sharing, near open spaces. For debriefing, checking emails, etc.
- Reboot. A space for relaxation and leisure. Can be for individuals or for groups. The cafeteria, games room, dream boxes and even reading corners are places to unwind, have fun, relax and re-energise.
While a proton worker would usually need to use the Reboot, Framework and Share spaces, a neutron worker would need the Reboot, Share, Framework and Ping spaces. And an electron would need all of the types of space, as well as Stand alone and Update.
Nantes and Bordeaux are pioneers of work@OVH, and get to see the very latest new ideas from the Real Estate team get put into action. In Nantes, a flex space has been built with dedicated areas to suit each need, task, and time of day. They are all shared, everyone has their own personal locker, and a curved wooden skateboard ramp that, like an amphitheatre, gives employees a place to work, relax, and follow a conference or meeting. It’s the perfect place to relax and work, and it’s at the heart of the Nantes offices.
The final step of Work@OVH affects all OVH offices, sites and datacentres across the world. In 2018, after Nantes, Bordeaux and London, the Real Estate team will set off to work on the sites in Wroclaw, Gravelines, Croix, Saartbruken, Milan and Paris. Over the next few years, the team will tackle new challenges such as creating audio and other sensory effects (an OVH room scent and sound designs), to give everyone the full OVH experience.