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Imagining, Managing Workplace Design

Facility managers faced challenges in workplace design even before the pandemic completely changed the game plan. But the work must go on and a sound strategy makes a difference in every aspect whether recruiting and retaining talent or keeping workers safe.

Daniel Kolta, Manager, Strategic Planning and Workplace Design at Ameren, provided an in-depth look at how the utility company set a course before, during and after COVID-19. More than 50 members listened intently to Daniel’s presentation during the Feb. 24 virtual program on the “The Re-imagined Workplace.” He reviewed Ameren’s planning horizon over 10 years to achieve the company’s objectives and align workplace design with its business strategy and financial goals.

The presentation provided a look at Ameren’s overall strategy, its concepts, modifications made during the COVID-19 pandemic and its proposed changes once the pandemic subsides.

Starting with its strategic overview, Daniel pointed to the company’s objective to ensure its workplace design encourages collaboration and efficiency, as well as attracts and retains a diversified workforce. He pointed out that flexibility is key since the nature of work is changing faster than the design of any workplace.

Consequently, Ameren reviews concepts to ensure its workplaces accommodate a wide range of activities today and tomorrow. This requires a balanced approach in building spaces that allow for shared activities and individual spaces to allow for collaboration and innovation. This required configuring spaces to maximize each area’s functionality and activity.

Ameren is in the process of renovating its general office building to accomplish its goals by updating its infrastructure – HVAC, cabling, power panels and sprinkler system. To do so without interrupting day-to-day activities, the company is completing work on floor plates, with three completed and the remaining eight floor plates anticipated to be finished by 2025.

When COVID-19 hit, Ameren made modifications, Daniel noted. Nearly 90 percent of its office workforce began working at home. Glass stacker panels provided protection at workstations. Around 400 unassigned workstations were socially distanced. This also allowed the company to accelerate construction on its general office building.

The company is now reviewing its strategy post-COVID, he said. Ameren found that its workers demonstrated that they can productively and successfully work outside of its facilities. The company now is weighing a flexible work program to provide options on where its employees work, collaborate, innovate, train and develop.

A proposed strategy may define workers into three categories: Resident (full time onsite), Hybrid (offsite with weekly visits to office) or Remote (only occasional visits to office).

Once its strategy is decided, Ameren is looking at refreshing its workplace strategy, including fewer workstations, more flexible space, implementation of work group neighborhoods assigned to specific work groups, and reservation software for space that can be accessed on a computer or mobile app and metrics tracking.

You can review the full presentation on Ameren’s Workplace Strategy. Additionally, Daniel will answer any questions. He can be reached at [email protected].