The key steps Ingka is taking to boost workplace experience

In the second of a three-part series on designing a magnetic workplace experience, we talk to Momcilo Pavlovic of IKEA. What does the future of work look like for this global home furnishing brand?

As companies experiment with new work policies and models in the era of hybrid adaptation, workplace experience is rising rapidly up the business agenda. If you need any proof of just how fast, then look no further than Ingka.

The Swedish company behind all those iconic products for a modern lifestyle has rejigged its organisational structure to ensure that its workplace support team, which leads on workplace experience, is now part of a bigger group inside IKEA responsible for strategy, development and innovation.

This strategic restructure is significant for many reasons, says Momcilo Pavlovic, Ingka’s workplace support leader, who is known as Momo. Not least because it elevates the consideration of workplace experience within the company.

Lighthouse for culture

A temporary taskforce which focused mainly on physical office spaces is now in a permanent group with a scope encompassing in-office and remote working across all workplaces.

And instead of office location being seen as an unavoidable cost, it is now seen as a business opportunity – ‘a lighthouse for culture and values, and an attractive place to be’, explains Pavlovic, who we interviewed as part of our series on workplace experience in partnership with Area, one of the UK and Europe’s leading workplace design and fit-out specialists.

Before the restructure, there was a sub-optimised support structure and an uneven workplace experience across the IKEA workforce. Now, the right structure is in place to achieve consistency of experience. This, Pavlovic told us, is important given recent changes in the working landscape with a hybrid model emerging. ‘IKEA’s top priority for creating a great destination for work is to understand user needs and not jump immediately into solutions mode. If you want to create a real destination, then you have to consider many aspects.”

Building blocks

When Area worked with WORKTECH Academy to organise a half-day creative workshop on how to create a better workplace experience, six essential building blocks were identified:

  • A Sense of Identity
  • Personalisation and Choice
  • The Right Spaces
  • Functionality and Support
  • Sensory Wellbeing
  • Community and Pride

When invited to study these factors, Momo Pavlovic unhesitatingly picked out a sense of identity as being most important to Ingka. ‘Our identity is bound up in democratic design – functionality, low price, sustainability, equality. We translate those values into design for workspace. It’s visual but also cultural – a part of it is how we behave.’

Personalisation and choice also matter a lot at Ingka, where activity-based working (ABW) has been introduced and where there is a wide range of settings – including quiet focus areas, team neighbourhoods, phone booths and base camps – that employees can choose to work from.

Providing the right types of space is critical but there are limits in terms of employee choice. Ingka believes in open environments. Pavlovic explains: ‘If someone wanted to shut the door behind them, that’s not us – we don’t want to create cubicles.’

Functional support

High up is terms of priority is functional support. This extends from having a technology network that works 100 per cent of the time with great connectivity to having a physical environment that is healthy, safe and clean. Momo Pavlovic explains that Ingka is implementing workplace management software to get the data analytics that will guide future decisions.

There are also ambitious goals inside Ingka’s workspace around sensory wellbeing. Biophilia, air quality and lighting are all areas for continual improvement. ‘With more cameras and more video calls, we need to improve lighting in particular,’ explains Pavlovic.

‘We can’t just be functional. We need to have big dreams’ – Momo Pavlovic, IKEA

Underscoring all the other building blocks of workplace experience is a sense of community and pride in the Ingka workplace. ‘We can’t just be functional. We need to have big dreams and bring in unexpected things – whether that’s exercise equipment or someone playing the guitar.’

Momo Pavlovic has been working on a new campus in Malmo called Hubhult, where his task is to translate IKEA’s vision – ‘to create a better everyday life for the many people’ – into a great workplace experience for employees. To make it happen, his team is committed to being fast and flexible, creative, curious, questioning, passionate, patient and brave. These seven values will drive a change process that promises to transform workplace experience so that Ingka’s workforce can live the brand.

As our interview with Momo Pavlovic illustrates, the bandwidth of experience design just got broader – from the functional to the inspirational.

Area is a founding member of Fourfront Group and a Global Partner of WORKTECH Academy. Read the first article in our series with Area on workplace experience here.
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