Colleagues, coffee breaks and collaboration – what we miss from the offices

Published: 2020-11-19

We gathered four creative people for a talk about: Creativity in a shifting landscape - How to keep innovation flowing in home offices. "The potentially good outcome from this should be: is the hours really relevant? Four, eight, twelve? Isn’t it what comes out of it that is important?", says Magnus Thure Nilsson, CEO at Media Evolution.

Above: Kristin Heinonen and Calle Rosengren. Below: Magnus Thure Nilsson and Ebba Ljungerud.

From the conversation

Ebba Ljungerud: “Bug fixing is easy to do from home. But it is easier to be creative in a big group. I believe that meeting people you don’t meet every day, is important for creativity and inspiration. Meeting with people who work with other things in the company is important.”

“How do you build company culture with people that you never meet? The secret sauce is the magic, and magic is harder when you never meet.”

Calle Rosengren: “What is lost is the communication that happens between meetings. Prior research shows that non-task-oriented meetings are important for groups.”

Magnus Thure Nilsson: “The whole idea with our houses is meetings that you can’t predict. So, everything has changed profoundly for us. It is hard to reinvent this. Everything will be more digital in the future and we need to find things that work.”

Are eight work hours at the office the same as eight hours at home?

Ebba Ljungerud: “No, I think eight hours working in the office is less than working 8 hours at the kitchen table. That being said, I think there are some important parts with working from the office. It also means more breaks at the coffee machine – and the coffee and ping pong game at work can be super important for creativity.

And yes, it has been tough in Sweden, but imagine the countries where you have your kids at home because the schools are closed…”

Magnus Thure Nilsson: “The potentially good outcome from this should be: is the hours really relevant? Four, eight, twelve? Isn’t it what comes out of it that is important? I just hope that we will learn things during these months and try to keep the good things. But it is also about trust and productivity and not the hours.”

Calle Rosengren: “What is work? And how do we perceive it? It can be things that are done in the office during specific hours. Perhaps we are used to an old image of work that has lived on from the industrial era. But today work is something else. We don’t know how to measure it. It is not always that we have something to show at the end of the day. Who knows that I have been working and not just sending a lot of emails?”

Ebba Ljungerud: “Most of our teams do daily check-ins and some do check-outs. That puts a frame around the day that most appreciate. Concerning our employee’s psychic and physical wellbeing, we do have a lot of exercise sessions. Also, step competitions, yoga sessions. It is all structured and recurring every week. We also do a lot of ‘lunch and learn’, which we already done before corona, but now we’ve gone digital with it and it is very popular.”

Calle Rosengren: “We have seen new ways of designing offices before corona. The most known is the activity-based office. In the future, perhaps we will see the focused work taking place at home, and the more social forms at the offices.”

Magnus Thure Nilsson: “Everyone is looking for a new kind of office today. Many real estate owners are really afraid. Will everything change? During the spring, a handful of people called me and asked for small offices, like satellite offices for people that used to commute to work. That could absolutely be something for smaller cities in the future.”

Ebba Ljungerud: “All legislation in Sweden is based on an office, or a factory even. We need to address this if we are going to work more from home long term.”

Calle Rosengren: “Perhaps the view of work will move from the industrial one; perhaps we will go back to the agrarian times even. The number of hours the harvest takes is not the issue; doing the harvest is what matters, no matter how many or few hours it takes.

Colleagues, coffee breaks and collaboration

During the webinar, the audience could interact with the speakers through the chat and Mentimeter. The webinar was ended with a Menti question for the audience: What did they miss most from their works pre corona? Colleagues, coffee breaks and collaboration were the most common words. Also, "hugs" was a top-five word.

Watch the webinar afterwards

Panellists from the webinar 19 November

Ebba Ljungerud, CEO at Paradox Interactive and alumna from LUSEM

Magnus Thure Nilsson, CEO at Media Evolution

Calle Rosengren, Associate Professor of Work Environment Technology at Lund University.

Kristin Heinonen, moderator and digital transformation specialist.

Read more about the event