Last Tuesday I spent the afternoon at the world’s smartest and greenest building as the guest of Miriam Tops of Deloitte and Erik Ubels of OVG Real Estate (and formerly CIO of Deloitte).
Imagine arriving at your place of work and being directed to an area or office suitable for that day’s work; where the lighting and heating adjust automatically to suit your preferences; where the coffee you like is dispensed from one of the best coffee machines available; and where if you need anything a concierge service is on hand to get it for you.
That’s the start of a day in the life of a knowledge worker at Deloitte Amsterdam.
The Edge is a contemporary new building located in an emerging business district close to Schipol Airport, the motorway and railway, yet a 15 minute drive to the centre of the city. It is home to 2,700 workers with desks allocated on arrival each day to accommodate approximately 50% reflecting changing work patterns.
a fusion of Data Analytics and great contemporary design
Conceived by the largest real estate technology company in Holland OVG it is an astonishing example of how to use natural light, the sun, the earth and other natural materials to power a building, provide a sustainable infrastructure while creating an innovative environment in which to work. A helicopter view of the roof would reveal little expensive equipment apart from solar panelling which is also built into the external facade.
It is the forerunner of many such buildings and OVG are not resting on their laurels. Erik and his colleagues have far reaching plans to change the way buildings and those who inhabit them work.
The ‘smarts’ lie in the way data analytics sourced in part from the lighting and delivered by a smart app are used to stimulate a new way of working. These were developed by the project team which Erik headed and which drew up countless simulations of working practices based on a set of personae.
The Knowledge Management component is interesting. Erik and Miriam (who heads Deloitte’s Dutch KM activity) were part of a Knowledge Council which also included Talent / People Management (HR), Facilities Management and various other practice groups. The council’s input was valuable in determining how the building might be used,
The building never sleeps: at night a robot patrols the ground floor obviating the need for on site security and maintenance.
Return on Investment
Innovation comes at a cost. Many of the components were more expensive but will deliver a payback. Already the company has seen:
- Lower energy and service costs due to investment in climate ceilings and new sustainable technology (LoE)
- Acquisition of new business (clients love the building and all it says about Deloitte)
I am sure there are many ‘hidden’ benefits around productivity, staff acquisition, engagement and retention which are not in the public domain but integral to making the building such a success.
If anyone is looking for a great example of the idea of ‘Orchestrated Serendipity’ The Edge is the building to go see. Don’t just take my word for it, take a look at great (shortish) videos shot by Bloomberg and CNN Tech and an excellent piece by the BBC’s Technology Team.
A huge thanks then to Miriam, Erik and Andrea Stevenson who heads Deloitte’s Global Outreach KM team and who connected me to Miriam.