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Xworks partners with Rapal to offer Canon valuable insights into workplace dynamics


Interior design company Xworks Interiors LLC uses Optimaze™ workplace development tools to discover how a client’s work environment functions and to better understand what their future needs might be. Partnering with Rapal Oy, Xworks is able to offer its clients, such as Canon Middle East, a workplace design based on insights from solid data and user input.

Meeting modules provide private and comfortable meeting space in Canon's new activity based office space.

Canon Middle East's offices have been tailored to improve the working efficiency and comfort of a mobile workforce.

Canon, world leader in imaging solutions, has its regional headquarters for Canon Middle East & Africa in Dubai. The premises house several business functions such as regional sales, marketing, and technical support – a good mix of frequent travelers and shared support functions - in total some 140 employees.

Xworks Interiors LLC is a full service interior design company with offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It offers turnkey design solutions to mainly international corporate clients across the Middle East.

“In addition to improving the aesthetics and functionality of our clients’ premises, our aim is to create spaces that improve productivity, inspire the employees and enhance the occupants’ well-being,” says Kaj Helstrand, Managing Director, Xworks Dubai.

Passionate about workplace design

With over thirty years’ experience in interior design, Helstrand is passionate about workplace design and especially about making sure to base designs on a client’s true needs, their culture and activities: “When our client Canon asked us to redesign their regional headquarters to better meet the needs of a modern technology company, we wanted to make sure that the new design and fit out of the offices was built on tangible, factual information. After all, the new premises have to serve Canon for years to come,” Helstrand explains.

The open plan offices, although spacious, were no longer optimal for a global technology leader, working across a vast geographical region. The open spaces that facilitate interaction within and between teams were not suitable for focus work or for conducting video meetings. During further discussions, additional concerns began to emerge, and the wish list for the redesign began to grow. It became clear that more information would be beneficial, to identify and prioritize those development needs.

Analyzing the work environment and employee preferences

Xworks was familiar with the Optimaze™ Workplace Analysis service, which combines data collected through a space utilization study with information on work patterns, user preferences and employee communication methods, and provides workplace planning recommendations and space planning scenarios.

“We knew that with the combination of objective utilization data and subjective personnel input - the voice of the office users - we could create more effective and accurate space plans for our customers,” says Helstrand. Therefore, Xworks and Rapal collected these insights into a presentation explaining how they convert into meaningful planning to inform the workplace design process. With approval from Canon management, the Xworks launched the project with a Space Utilization Study and a Workplace Survey.

The Optimaze™ Measure tool is very easy to use independently, so Canon was able to conduct the space utilization study in-house leveraging on its own resources. Rapal provided a quick training session combined with continuous on-line support for the measurer, so, as Helstrand explains, the measurements were completed without any problems – proof of how intuitive and simple the tool is. The individual and anonymous survey, conducted on-line, had above 70% response rate. “Best of all, the patterns coming out of these two data streams clearly supported management’s original assumptions on the renovation needs,” Helstrand explains.

Employees contribute to workplace design

Canon collaborated with Rapal to undergo two weeks of research, observation and input from the team in order to adjust and adapt the working environment to the needs and requirements of their employees. “We tracked and mapped the space utilization of the meeting rooms as well, and identified what kind of technology and equipment was needed,” Veronica Juul-Nyholm, HR Director at Canon Middle East, explains the process from Canon’s point of view.

Canon also circulated an employee survey outlining key areas requiring input from the team and, finally, formed a Millennials Club whereby each department had a millennial contributing from an IT, architectural, and marketing perspective, among other areas, on the office renovation. “Having undergone these activities, we were able to efficiently map our current utilization of space and plug our avenues for innovation via redesigning the office driven by the data gathered,” Juul-Nyholm continues.

Enthusiastic response to new premises

After the data was analyzed, conclusions drawn, and the detailed design finalized, the on-site renovation works began. The new workspaces for the Middle East regional teams were delivered first. The teams were so satisfied with their redesigned work environment that Canon’s management accelerated the renovation of the Canon Central and North African regional teams’ workspaces, and today they, too, are operating from new and refreshed offices. Next in line for Xworks is the renovation of the shared spaces - the so called "Community Hub," "Knowledge Hub" and the "Innovation Hub" – an entire wing for both business groups as well as Canon’s clients in the region to use for learning, training, innovation and other collaborative engagements.

Spaces that accomodates different types of work activities, including formal and informal meetings, ensures that the needs of Canon's regional teams are efficiently met.

Xworks designed workspaces for Canon that meet both personnel as well as company requirements.

New ways of working

“The project was a great, productive way to really bring all of the team together, embracing their inputs and translating them into an amicable workspace for all was key!” Juul-Nyholm says. “Agility at work was one of the major pillars for us, and not only did this result in implementing tangible changes in the office, but it also resulted in the initiation and shaping of new HR policies on topics such as flexible working hours, option to work remotely and change of working attire.”

“In terms of our findings, with an average occupancy rate of 42% of work desks, we initiated a “Hot Desk” policy which encourages people to change desks and interact with employees from different departments," she explains.

"With an average of 59% utilization rate of meeting rooms, we dug deeper and found that the most common meeting size is 2-4 people whereas most of our meeting rooms prior to the renovation were furnished for a minimum of 6-15 individuals. Therefore, we incorporated smaller meeting rooms as well as silent rooms that people can use as a quiet working space or to take any skype calls. In addition, we scattered informal meeting places across the office to make sure that we had enough meeting rooms available for formal business meetings as and when required.”

Xworks and Rapal share common goal: happy clients

“Canon and Xworks have agreed that once all the renovation work is fully completed, we’ll consider another round of measurements, to make sure that the satisfaction is not just emotional enthusiasm, but that the spaces really do function as intended and indeed support the work processes effectively. We have also recommended annual “temperature checks” to monitor the workplace utilization, and see how the needs of the businesses might evolve or change with time,” Helstrand outlines the future plans.

Helstrand sees collaborating with a workplace development expert like Rapal valuable. “I can’t stress enough the importance of having current, compelling and objective data and space development recommendations available to present to our clients as a starting point for the design process. The workplace analysis is at the core of Rapal’s value proposition - providing clients with uniquely relevant great designs that fulfill employees’ needs and increase user productivity and well-being.”

“I believe we have a real win-win situation here,” says Rainer Lund, Head of International Sales at Rapal. “Xworks is a very experienced designer and creator of modern work environments, and always have their customer’s best interests at heart. We understand how using data from measurements and studies brings relevant insights to the design process, and thereby long-term value to clients.

"For us, partnering with Xworks and Kaj Helstrand is great, because we experience an exchange of feedback and suggestions, on how to develop and tweak our tools and service offering, to even better serve the end-customers. And in the end, the client reaps the rewards of our partnership.”