Danone's 5-step transition to a flex office

Hybrid Stories
March 13, 2024
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The flex office is emerging as a major challenge for companies, calling for an in-depth review of workplaces. According to the Parella - CSA 2023 Barometer, 78% of managers even consider premises to be a priority.

In this context, Danone, a global giant in the food industry, stands out for its methodical approach to the transition to flex office and zoningEach space is assigned a specific function.

Adrien Bayeulle, Office Project Manager in Danone's IT & Data department, is in charge of the workspace optimization project. In this testimonial, he details Danone's five-step approach, offering a precise vision that can be applied to any company wishing to embrace flex office.

1. Define needs with project sponsors

In response to the complexity of gathering requirements in a large-scale group, Danone calls on a sponsor in three key departments to gather representative requirements from the teams:

  • Human Resources, as experts on employees, develop hybrid work policies and anticipate long-term developments.
  • The Work Environment team understands the realities of spaces and designs them efficiently, being in daily contact with users.
  • IT provides technological and methodological expertise to support the transition to the flexible office

In this way, Danone aims to standardize the employee experience at its sites worldwide. This approach encourages cross-border collaboration:

"When it comes to managing workflows, which can be quite vague, many ideas are put forward. It's crucial for someone to be able to structure them while already having solutions in mind to meet the diversity of needs, especially on a project with an international dimension."

→ To go further: watch the replay of the webinar "HR and EDT: what collaboration for a successful hybrid experience?" in partnership with Keolis and ConvictionsRH.

2. A deeper understanding of employee expectations

Before remote work became so widespread as a result of the pandemic, Danone had already started thinking about adapting its working environment. Adrien Bayeulle emphasizes the importance ofcarefully analyzing the habits and preferences of teams, in order to understand the underlying motivations behind their work choices:

"It's essential to understand why employees come or don't come to the office. By putting ourselves in their shoes and identifying their sources of daily frustration, we're better able to grasp their needs."

Following an employee survey, the introduction of a "Pact" between employees and the company marked a major turning point in this transformation. Rather than imposing strict rules, Danone has opted for a flexible approach, giving teams the power to define their own hybrid work rhythm in line with operational requirements. This initiative aims to empower employees and strengthen their sense of belonging to the company.

At the same time, Danone's space management has been evolving since 2020. Offices are now organized by team at floor level, including open coworking spaces to encourage collaboration. For example, Product Design and Packagings teams working on common projects share these spaces to meet easily.

→ Find out more about Lifen's transition to a sustainable hybrid working model

3. Prioritize use cases for better visibility

Once needs have been identified and habits understood, prioritizing use cases becomes essential to ensure clear understanding by all stakeholders. Adrien Bayeulle shares his 3 tips applied by Danone:

  1. Group needs by family, prioritizing them according to their impact on the employee experience. At Danone, needs such as"knowing what meeting rooms are available" and "having them on a map" are grouped under the category of "resources available on site".
  2. Having a clear vision of how the business operates enables us to focus our efforts on the most critical aspects, optimizing the effectiveness of our solutions over the long term.
  3. Make sponsors known to employees by introducing them to the various teams to facilitate their identification. At Danone, sponsors, who are often members of management, are known within their teams and introduced to new employees.

This approach ensures a coherent transition adapted to the company's global, priority needs, while offering the possibility of developing specific solutions to meet more targeted requirements, if necessary.

4. Enrich your thinking by collaborating with external partners

Exchanging ideas with peers, third-party organizations and potential service providers is a valuable source of inspiration for Danone. This learning enriches our thinking and identifies the best practices to incorporate into our own transition to the flex office. Adrien Bayeulle encourages this openness to the outside world, stressing the importance of learning from the experiences of other companies andexploring new avenues:

"At Danone, we are particularly attentive to the practices of our peers, which is of crucial importance for a large group. We seek to learn from the mistakes made by other companies, but also from their successes."

This is how Danone affirms the importance of deploying a tool integrated with those that employees use on a daily basis, such as Microsoft Teams.

5. Integrating the CSE for a smooth social transition

The introduction of the flex office constitutes a significant change in working conditions, requiring consultation of the Social and Economic Committee (CSE) in accordance with article L.312-8 of the French Labor Code.

At Danone, we work closely with employee representatives to ensure that social issues are properly taken into account and to promote acceptance of change within the company. For Adrien Bayeulle, this approach facilitates constructive dialogue and enables employee concerns to be addressed at the right moment in the transition process:

"We regularly call on Danone's ESCs at the start-up of new projects, particularly at our quarterly meetings. We exchange ideas openly, which helps them to integrate smoothly and gives us the benefit of their advice."

This proactive consultation anticipates points of vigilance and limits potential bottlenecks in project implementation.

→ Going further: find out how to talk to your Works Council about a desk booking tool

The success of such a project depends on good leadership. By adopting a methodical, user-centered approach, Danone is redefining the standards of the modern office, fostering collaboration and innovation. The group is committed to creating a flexible, harmonious working environment for its employees, ensuring that the solutions proposed genuinely meet use cases.

Danone is paving the way for a future in which work becomes both more flexible and more human. This evolution opens up a wider dialogue on the future of work, inviting us to rethink our practices in order to meet contemporary professional challenges.