A New Way to Work

Right on the doorstep of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the Outlook is a radical departure from the traditional office. It supports a new working philosophy, in which knowledge workers can work anytime and anywhere, getting the best out of themselves.

Pilot Project for Global Organisation

Ernst-Jan Stigter, one of those responsible for this pilot project for the global organisation, explains: “In this office, there are no attendance rules. Our employees and stakeholders aren’t coming to the Outlook to work, they are coming here for their work. They feel that this environment is helping them be productive and innovative.” Within Microsoft, the Outlook is viewed as a giant, six-storey laboratory. Since the building was opened in April 2008, 600 people have visited it every week.

But why did this pioneering office project take shape in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, rather than anywhere else? Ernst-Jan Stigter explains: “The Netherlands is ideally suited for such experiments. The average Dutch person is tolerant of change, receptive to new technologies, and willing to take a critical look at the way they work. On top of that, in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area there are many players who could help us realise our ideas.”

More Control over Work-life Balance

The experiment has proved positive so far. “Intangible returns are always difficult to gauge, but it’s clear that people feel very happy here,” says Stigter. “You notice that the hierarchical boundaries between departments disappear. Also, the dialogue with our customers is different. It is less formal. People are quicker to say what they really think. But the biggest advantage is that we as employees have more control over our work-life balance. Because this meeting place leaves everyone free to decide where and when to work, it gives a great sense of freedom. And if you need to be here and your kids are free, then you just bring them with you – there’s regular childcare provision.”

While Microsoft certainly hopes to increase its attractiveness to knowledge workers, it believes that the new workplace will make an important social and economic contribution. Stigter calculates that the use of flexible workspaces makes significant savings: “Not only do we save on real estate and construction, we also make an important energy gain. We are therefore working more sustainably. If every company were organised and equipped like ours, the daily commute would be reduced by at least a third. So traffic congestion and CO2 emissions would be significantly reduced.” Futuristic working, indeed.

Read full testimonial here.