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    Safe and controlled facilitation of the return to the office and hybrid working. A major challenge with a major impact on business operations, culture, real estate costs and new investments to be future-proof. How does Heijmans view this? We spoke to Marc de Vreede, chairman of the board of Heijmans.

    Hybrid working happened to us. Like many other organisations, we were forced into it with Heijmans when Corona broke out. Of course, the work was already task-oriented and resources such as flexible workplaces were available, but I soon saw the need for a master plan to steer the transformation in the right direction. Observations showed, for example, that e-mail traffic increased enormously and that there was a difference in time and agenda. The working days stretched, employees were 'on' all week and that created an imbalance between work and private life. I wanted to bring this back into proportion and thus restore the balance.

    A healthy building contributes to everyone's vitality

    But how do you set up a hybrid organization? How do you make the connection between its advantages, in a construction company where working on a project basis is the standard? "Although we previously also steered towards collectiveness and individual responsibility, this was not done on a structural basis. We have started the transformation step by step and we are allowing room for adjustment per department and/or business unit. There is no fixed framework, the change to hybrid working is based on the different needs.

    Technology is crucial in this. Thanks to monitoring with sensors from Beyond Eyes, we have insight into the use of our building and we can manage the layout and the climate, for example. Via the reservation app, employees can plan the working day and reserve rooms for meetings or flexible working. Where previously Monday, Tuesday and Thursday had the highest occupancy rates, the buildings, spaces, parking spaces and resources are now deployed more efficiently and evenly throughout the week. For example, I have moved the board meeting from Monday morning to Wednesday.

    Every Monday I receive an overview of the occupation and utilization of the week before, so that we can continue to adjust accordingly. This ensures more effective management across the board, as well as less wastage and thus lower energy costs, better ventilation thanks to less crowded spaces and less waste. In short, the caterer, cleaning service and other subcontractors also benefit from this. And not unimportant: a healthy building with a comfortable climate contributes to the vitality of all users.

    Committing to a new work-life balance

    It's the new way of working, this is where we're going in the future. I have really become a believer of modern employership. Of working together but at the same time self-determination about organizing your time. Where our office previously had the primary function that you came there to work, it has become a meeting place and that will only increase in the coming years. Employees like to work out notes or prepare projects at home, for example, but the need for conversations with colleagues at the coffee machine or live meetings remains. Or maybe it's bigger than before. Work-life balance has become even more important, as has schedule and work flexibility.

    We transform together, supported by technology

    The transformation to hybrid work that we have initiated at Heijmans is based on organic growth and trust. There is no rigid enforcement, employees get used to it step by step and that pays off in terms of satisfaction and performance. People are more relaxed, even when they walk around the building, and they have control over their workplace; on where, how and when they work. Incidentally, within clear frameworks and agreements. For example, outside the current lockdown, our employees were expected to be at the office for at least three days pre-week. For some, this still evokes resistance or fear, for example of a corona infection. But my door is open and people walk in regularly to share their experience and advice. The transformation starts with technology, but above all we do it together. As a result, we stay close to what the employees like, they also determine the pace and direction of this path. As a result, the transformation is experienced as less intense. The goal is that in two years' time we will collectively have embarked on a hybrid path in which everyone will have found his or her personal balance: in working from home and meeting people at the office, at a project or at the construction site. And we will determine that route together in the coming years.

    “I have become a believer of modern employership: of collaborating with self-determination about where, how and when you work.”

    Marc de Vreede Directievoorzitter Heijmans

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