12 January 2018

Modern worlds of work: TUI embraces change

How do TUI colleagues around the world work? In the next few months, we will present TUI offices at irregular intervals, starting with Stockholm.

TUI Nordics’ head office is a fifteen minutes’ walk away from the tourist flows in Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town. The red brick building features white-and-green marquees fluttering in the wind. Employees are locking their bikes. Some of them are now going to take a shower in the company’s own gym. Colleagues who have used a less sporty mode to get to the office will look for a desk – for today.

No fixed workspaces

Colleagues working for TUI Stockholm do not have a desk of their own. Personal items, laptops and working materials are stored in a locker. Every morning, employees decide afresh who sits where  – and who will get hold of the most beautiful view of Riddarfjärden with the boats gliding along. However, every space in the office is beautiful: warm colours dominate the generous open space, interrupted by small seating clusters and standing desks, where colleagues regularly get together for short meetings. Those needing more tranquillity for their project teams may temporarily reserve one of the closed meeting rooms

Flat hierarchies

“Short distances, a maximum focus on the work and optimum work efficiency. These are the guiding principles determining the architecture as well as leadership: Managers work alongside staff members in the open space office. They are approachable and accessible, even without fixed talk times for their staff. This reduces hierarchies and accelerates decision-making”, explained Mats Pahlberg, Indirect Purchase Manager & Compliance.

Dialogue is welcome

In order to ‘force’ employees to deliberately take breaks and time away from work in between, eating at the desk is prohibited. Employees can get drinks and fruit at reception and have coffee in the Piazza. They therefore regularly engage in dialogue outside of specific projects. And the best thing is that the coffee machine is connected to the Internet, with automatic maintenance work carried out overnight. Hejdå*, filter replacement and empty water tanks.

Digital networking

Employees not meeting over a meal make online appointments: digital tools help them organise themselves, find colleagues and cooperate, even across office borders. Employees currently have more than 43 applications available, with most of them soon to be bundled into one app.

Dialogue right from the start

TUI Stockholm has not always been this modern. In 2012, the Group decided to radically change its ways. In order to engage its employees right from the start, they were involved in the process as early as in the planning stage. They were given the opportunity to leave their ideas and wishes regarding the design of the individual areas on a ‘wish wall’, while a ‘worry wall’ offered space to note down any concerns. “Taking people’s concerns seriously is extremely important in change processes’, says Anders Friberg, Head of Facility Management. “We therefore did not just collect these concerns on the wall, but also included them in our communication measures.” During the various refurbishment stages, employees were regularly surveyed to facilitate consensus-driven decisions.

Cultural change driven by conversion

The conversion activities were carried out as the company continued its business operations. Employees had to move to different rooms several times in the process. “We have dropped all ballast. If you do not have space to store things any longer, your focus will shift. A natural development towards an almost paperless office,” summarised Mats Pahlberg.

TUI was aiming to reduce its operating costs by 15 per cent through the renovation and modernisation of its premises. As early as in year one, our Swedish colleagues delivered cost savings of 16 per cent. The secret to success is to consistently think afresh, reconsider and see things differently. Examples include waste, which now is collected every day by the municipal waste collection company. Thanks to this smart cooperation scheme alone, 60 square metres of expensive storage space required for waste disposal have been saved. And the new architecture has also given rise to a new mindset: the focus now is on dialogue and teamwork, supported by smart architecture and thoughtfully designed furnishing.

Measurable change

Today, the change is not just perceptible but also measurable:

  • Printing costs down by 53 per cent
  • Cost of office materials down by 70 per cent
  • Reduction in storage space
  • Dish-washing time down from 52 hours to 4 minutes per day

TUI’s Stockholm office has meanwhile become a kind of blueprint. Time and again, groups of interested managers have visited the site to learn more about modern cooperation.

However, the conversion is not finished yet, and it will probably never be. “In our understanding, change is like a garden you have to nurture so that it can flourish,“ said Anders Friberg. A new task force has been set up to tackle this task. It deals with the next stage of development and seeks to implement some of the learnings and feedback to achieve further improvements.

* Hejdå is Swedish for “good bye“