2015 was a year full of changes for arts centre Vooruit. The cultural organization started the renovations of the Vooruit building and combined those changes with the setup of a new way of working. Necessary renovations inside out and outside in.
The need for a new (digital) office
Vooruit is an organization that has grown from a group of friends that teamed up in the 80s. Along the years, the group expanded with more and more employees and they developed into a gradually professionalizing business.
The specific nature and founding history caused a certain disintegration in the different departments within the organization over time. This caused the need for a new way of working in which a professionalized approach and setup could support the future professional goals of Vooruit.
Besides the organizational restructuring, the building of Vooruit needed an update in the context of these goals as well. Because the Vooruit building is a monument, its infrastructure had some logistic limitations. This initiated the physical changes of the Vooruit office
De Vooruitmasterplan: Vooruit 2.0
Vooruit created a masterplan that answers the needs in terms of working environment, on the level of a way of working as well as the creation of a new office. The first part of that masterplan is already executed and consists of the building of the new terrace and bicycle shed. The second part contains the setup of new offices in an old part of the Vooruit building, the renovations of the concert space and the redecorations of the entrance hall and its superstructure.
The new office had some requirements to be taken into account. Vooruit wanted to install a new way of working which suited the company’s spirit. This means that the different departments had to be able to work together. In terms of infrastructure, a completely new office organization was created: the workspace now contains different working areas in which the divisions are based on functionality rather than specific departments. The employees can choose in which part of the office they want to work every day, which stimulates cooperation and communication between different departments.
The architecture of the new offices is adapted to the idea of sustainable renovations, which was one of the most important aspects of Vooruit’s renovations. The office is created as a large loft space on different floors, with local woods and a rooftop garden for the employees. There is also a green wall inside, which brings a feeling of openness into the office, and provides extra light inside.
A necessary next step according to Johan Penson, head of infrastructure at Vooruit, is the setup of a digital office which corresponds to the new physical infastructure:
“Of course, if you want to make use of principles like that, you need to be ready for that digitally as well on a certain level”
The new digital office had to cover the needs in terms of accessibility and connectivity between the different departments on a digital level. Technically, this meant a shift from a stand-alone server and and exchange server in Outlook, to a solution with Gmail, Google Drive and Google Apps. The reason for this change was the fact that the previous organization did not offer the necessary overview and opportunity to collaborate within the organization on a digital level.
“Some people were working in Cloud, some people saved their documents locally, so our documents were everywhere, but nowhere at the same time. In the end, on a digital level, we couldn’t find anything back.”
The change to a Google platform solution provided the necessary step to create an accessible and structured organization. This choice had an impact on the IT department, led by Wim Roose, as well. Throughout the change and the transition to a Google solution, Wim guided the whole process on IT level, and is now in charge of the follow-up of the IT side of the story.
Despite the enormous impact, this Google solution suits the needs for an organization like Vooruit, in which employees can work wherever they want, whenever they want. The main goal of the digital office is to offer an accessible platform in which employees can collaborate, from any location or time, which is part of the Vooruit spirit.
Vooruit’s new way of working: a digital organization
Vooruit consciously chose for a digital office, as the organization is going through some changes on different levels. Johan explains:
“Vooruit is going to be recognized as an arts institute, which means that certain functions will have to be realized. But that also means, as a company that we need to stay attractive as a workplace for future employees.”
The step towards a digital office is then a logical and necessary adaption of the organization to today’s context. That is also a consequence of some political changes, according to Johan.
“The government is changing its relationships with the arts business. It is moving slowly, but if the arts business is not going to strengthen itself in some ways, it will no longer be attractive. No one will respond to our vacancies anymore.”
Vooruit wants the digital office to function as an asset within the organization for employees and future employees, so that it can give them the freedom that any other digitally adapted organization can offer.
At this moment, the first steps towards the digital office have been taken, but the first part is still being finalized. This means that the last integrations of the system with the new Google solutions are taking part. Within the first digital changes, Cronos Competence Center Translucid offered services to adapt to the new way of working by working together with the employees and offering immediate assistance in the offices at Vooruit.
For the following part of the digital office, Vooruit has its own digital team that is responsible for the follow-up of the integration of the digital office and to keep improving the system. Weekly meetings will provide the necessary feedback and the team functions as a connection between the developers and the employees.
Up till now, Vooruit is happy with the results. The constant improvement of the way of working at Vooruit is part of their idea of sustainability of both the working environment and the way of working.
“It is a constant work-in-progress, in which change is very present at this moment, but we believe this is a sustainable solution for our organization.”