How do you involve your works council in the transition to a flex office?

Flex Office
November 13, 2023
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Are you thinking of implementing a flex office system in your company? A wise decision! But you need to convince the Works Council that this project respects the health, safety and working conditions of your employees. So, how do you go about bringing this transformation to fruition, while looking after the interests of your employees? Deskare gives you the keys to successfully involving your Works Council in the adoption of the flex office.

Include the CSE from the outset of the flex office project 

Given the impact of the flex office on employees' working environment, this is an unavoidable subject for social dialogue. The implementation of a flexible workspace with shared offices affects the working environment from every angle.

The elected members of the Comité Social et Économique (CSE ), formerly known as employee delegates, have a key role to play in this transition. 

In accordance witharticle L.312-8 of the French Labor Code

"II. - The Committee is informed and consulted on matters concerning the organization, management and general running of the company, in particular:
4° The introduction of new technologies, any major
major changes modifying health and safety conditions or working conditions;".

Maria Le Calvez, a specialist in the role of the CSE, emphasized in an interview in February 2023: "We advocate informing and consulting the CSE at every stage, so as to share information but also to detect any difficulties early on, which can then find solutions."

The company's social relations manager is responsible for organizing meetings with the CSE, the health, safety and working conditions commission(CSSCT), meetings with staff representatives, etc.
Since January 1, 2020, all IRPs(Instances Représentatives du Personnel), with the exception of union delegates, have merged into the new body that is the CSE.

Involving the CSE through the consultation process

The consultation process with the CSE is the ideal way of enriching reflections on the reorganization of workspaces. Elected members of the CSE representing employees have the right to request comprehensive information from the employer in order to assess the merits of the proposed changes.

The data transmitted must be complete, accurate and in writing: 

  • Reasons to adopt the flex office,
  • Planned organization (location, surface area, spatial reorganization, layout, furniture, employees affected, operating rules, equipment), 
  • Analysis of the impact on working conditions (material changes, psychosocial risks, workspace ergonomics, lighting, layout), 
  • Environmental impact,
  • Costs generated‍,
  • Provisional timetable with implementation schedule and transition phase.

A detailed analysis of the project's risks, with associated preventive measures, is also expected. This approach, backed up by concrete arguments, is reassuring, as it shows the CSE and trade unions that the project is being managed responsibly.

With these elements, the elected members of the CSE are then in a position to formulate an informed and reasoned opinion, although this opinion is purely consultative and not binding on the employer's decision-making.

You can take inspiration from Believe Music's strategy to convince your CSE to switch to flex office on a permanent basis.

Consulting employees on the flex office through the CSE

According to the March 2023"Travailler autrement" survey, 84% of French employees polled want to be consulted on issues relating to work organization.

Employee representatives can play a key role in gathering opinions on the flex office, expectations, needs and any reservations. Listening to employees in this way enables us to better integrate the realities of work by getting feedback from the field.

Deskare has prepared a comprehensive three-part flex office questionnaire to make it easier for you to take your employees' opinions into account.

Establish clear flex office rules to reassure the CSE 

When making the transition to a flex office, quality of working life (QWL) and employees' well-being at work become a priority for the CSE and trade unions. You therefore need to establish clear rules of life: 

  1. Determine an appropriate flex-office ratio to avoid over-occupation of workstations (current ratios are between 0.7 and 0.5 workstations per employee). 
  1. Provide a variety of workspaces: collaborative zones, creative spaces, silent spaces, concentration areas, meeting rooms, micro-spaces for seclusion, relaxation areas, conviviality areas.
  1. Encourage social interaction to maintain office life and the corporate culture by providing spaces and moments for exchange and conviviality at work.
  1. Ensure proper management of space and working conditions (noise levels, visual disturbances, access to different areas, etc.).
  1. Encourage the practice of clean desk clearing the workstation to leave it free and available for another person to set up.
  1. Provide workplaces that are spacious enough to be comfortable.
  1. Set up boxes or lockers for personal belongings and work tools.
  1. Clarify for reserving meeting rooms and workstations and workstations with high-performance and ergonomic devices.
  1. Increase the frequency of cleaning of common areas and workstations to improve hygiene conditions.

In this hybrid mode of work organization, alternating face-to-face and remote working, the challenge is to structure presence in the workplace. You need to ensure that every employee who visits the company' s premises can find a workstation suited to his or her needs. Theuse of flex office and remote work management tools, such as Deskare's software, will enable you to tackle these issues with greater peace of mind.

To ensure the success of your flex office project, you can't do without prior and regular consultation with the Works Council. Its support and recommendations are essential to ensure that the project meets employees' needs and rights.

FAQ - What role does the CSE play in the transition to a flex office?

Is it mandatory for the CSE to be informed and consulted prior to the introduction of flex office?
As the introduction of a flex office is considered a change in working conditions, the CSE must be informed and consulted in accordance with article L.312-8 of the French Labor Code.

Is the opinion of the CSE consultative or binding on the flex office?
The opinion given by the CSE is consultative, meaning that the employer must take it into account, but is not legally obliged to follow it.

Is the CSE's right to expert advice possible in the event of a switch to flex office?
The CSE is entitled to call in an expert to help it better understand the issues associated with flex office. This gives the CSE more time to give its opinion, with the time limit increasing from 1 to 2 months. The employer must cover 80% of the cost of the expert's services.