Posted on 25 November 2019

How Microsoft Netherlands reinvented the way it works

“Underneath this concept, everything is data. That is what took us from old to new”

Microsoft often is an inspiring example for other companies. Since 2005, Microsoft Netherlands has been obsessed with finding ever-new ways for employees to work and engage with customers, believing that if it harnessed the latest research in behavioral science and productivity, it could end up with happier, more innovative workers and stronger partner and customer relationships.

No official workspace

That culture of experimentation and customer obsession is how Ernst-Jan Stigter, GM of Microsoft’s Netherlands subsidiary, ended up feeling more than a little nervous as an important milestone loomed in January 2018. He and about 800 of his employees were preparing for an almost unheard of exercise, one undertaken voluntarily as part of this new wave of transformation: while the Netherlands office was closed for 10 weeks of renovations, there would be no official temporary workspace.

How would office workers work without an office?

The transformation team would use the office closure to enact a radical test: when they had no desk or chair or office to get to, how would office workers work? Would they collaborate more intentionally with peers and customers? Would their networks grow, or shrink? “There’s no behavioral change without an intervention,” Stigter said. “Our intervention was that there would be no office.”

Seventy percent of the building is open to customers What they learned, they intended to infuse into their team’s evolving rhythms, habits, and spaces to create a culture of increased openness for customers and partners. Seventy percent of the new building—all but two floors—would be open to customers, partners, students, and entrepreneurs, compared to the current 30 percent. The new building would contain dozens of distinctly designed spaces to encourage everything from intensely productive focus time to spontaneous living room collaboration to time off to refresh.

What did bGrid deliver for the new Microsoft office?

  • bGrid installed 1200 nodes in the entire building
  • The nodes collect data on space occupation, climate and energy
  • Employees can easily find colleagues, available workplaces and meeting rooms
  • Employees are able to dim the light or turn up the heat manually
  • The data provides a heatmap of the use of the different workspaces
  • Simple tags on furniture and electronic devices make sure they can be tracked when they are moved to other places in the building
  • With the nodes light and heating are controlled automatically
  • The collected data delivers insights in the use of the building and makes clear how energy and costs can be saved
  • Together with Schiphol (owner & client), D/Dock, Turner & Townsend, Deerns, Engie, Priva, MAPIQ and CGI

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