Since remodelling its headquarters at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Microsoft has been working with rituals: agreements that contribute to collaboration, productivity and well-being. How does this work in practice, and can we learn something from it? We asked Adoption and Change Management specialist Sanne Postma.
At the beginning of every week, Sanne thinks about how she will organise her schedule for each day and what she would like to accomplish that week. Will she go to the office or work from home? Will she attend every meeting she has been invited to? And which technology will she use?
We always make conscious choices is one of the rituals that helps Sanne to make her work more enjoyable and efficient. Sanne: ‘Many employees at large organisations live by their agenda and appointments. They go to every single meeting without thinking about the purpose and effect. But you achieve more if you make conscious choices. Doing so allows you to more clearly identify your needs and where you can be of value.’
Sanne is part of the Refresh team that was responsible for the redevelopment of Microsoft’s headquarters at Schiphol. In addition to the updated décor, the work approach changed as well: from the new world of work to the new world of networking. ‘We are increasingly becoming a society of networks. We do things together more often. Previously, we would go to a customer and sell our licences. Now we are successful if the customer is successful. We primarily focus on how we can achieve something together.’
Surveys revealed that Microsoft employees struggled to disconnect from their work at the end of the day. They also had the feeling that they were constantly distracted. ‘That is because of everything happening around them: things like incoming emails and questions from colleagues. People feel like they've worked hard, but it didn’t have enough of an impact on what they wanted to accomplish.’
The rituals are based on this concept: how can you stay focused and get the most concentration out of your work? ‘It offers guidelines for how you can work with your colleagues to make the impact you want to achieve at the end of the day.’
There are six rituals in total. One of them is We team up. Sanne explains: ‘Within Microsoft, various people and departments will work for the same client. We therefore take a close look at which colleagues we have contact with in the project, what their role is and what we can expect from them. The same applies to our collaboration with partners, who support us with effective solutions. We need everyone in order to make the project a success. We are stronger together.’
The ritual We respect focus time led to the creation of a quiet room at the office where no talking is allowed. ‘Employees think it’s great. They go there to sit and work without being disturbed, and other colleagues respect that. We use the MyAnalytics tool, which gives you insight into your own behaviour. It provides accurate data on how quickly you get distracted and whether you are doing other things during a meeting. The tool also offers solutions that help you to work in a more focused manner. You can use it to indicate how much time you want to spend in meetings each week, for instance. If you’re in danger of exceeding that time limit because someone schedules a new appointment in your agenda, you’ll receive a notification. When I started using MyAnalytics, I saw that I answered 40% of my emails within half an hour. I thought: “Gosh, that’s pretty good. I reply fast.” But it wasn’t good at all, since it meant that I was constantly getting distracted. That’s why I changed my email settings so that I won’t be disturbed at certain times of the day.’
Sanne is currently helping customers to implement behavioural changes within companies after they have purchased a product from Microsoft. ‘I teach employees not only how the product works, but also how to work in a new way themselves.’ She has been a member of Spot Schiphol for more than year. ‘There are lots of special offers and events on the website. I also like the social aspect. I went to the Spot Barbecue with a group of colleagues and got to know new people.’
Sanne enjoys working out and travelling in her free time. In her role at Microsoft, she is in charge of Europe, the Middle East and Africa and makes frequent trips abroad. Working at Schiphol is very convenient in those moments. ‘Definitely. Forty minutes before my flight leaves, I walk over to the gate. Plenty of time before the plane takes off.’ That is another great example of the ritual We respect focus time.
Curious to learn more about the rituals at Microsoft? Check out the Microsoft NL Office Refresh. https://ptdrv.linkedin.com/o5o896x