Kirchheim unter Teck, Germany, November 5, 2020. Working from home, virtual videoconferencing as well as innovative designs for citizen interaction and offices should be the rule in public administration, too, rather than the exception. The city administration of Kirchheim unter Teck demonstrates how this can work very well, especially under Covid-19 conditions. The current need to renovate its administrative buildings prompted it to try out a design for new working environments. A large-scale pilot project was implemented for this purpose: 45 workplaces were relocated to a former factory building on the Otto Ficker site. The work environment experts of RBSGROUP, a subsidiary of the Stuttgart-based planning and consulting company Drees & Sommer SE, assisted the city in designing and implementing the new setting for work and offices.
Back in May 2018, Kirchheim unter Teck had leased around 1,000 square meters of space on the Otto Ficker site. The city is located 25 km southeast of Stuttgart. Since then, almost 50 employees from the human resources, organizational and finance departments have relocated.
Accessible to citizens despite the pandemic
It is only possible to implement corona protective measures in the other administrative buildings with major restrictions, due to the physical layout of the space. The new pilot space, on the other hand, can be easily adapted. It was divided into three different zones, with public, semi-public and shielded areas. In the publicly accessible zone, panels made of acrylic glass protect citizens and employees from Covid-19 infection spread by droplets. In addition, an online appointment scheduling tool ensures short waiting times and helps administrative staff to control the flow of visitors. This is proving to be particularly valuable at the moment, as it avoids crowds of people and the risk of infection is low.
Better Interaction, but Retreat also Possible
Employees’ offices are located in the shielded area. In contrast to the existing administrative buildings, these are no longer closed rooms with four walls and their own access door; instead, they comprise areas separated from one another, all with desks, each with four workstations. In addition to quite large meeting rooms equipped with modern technology for video conferencing, there are also four smaller think tanks. These are separate retreat rooms, designed as a space where an employee can work alone when necessary and focus on the task, make a confidential telephone call or talk with someone else in an undisturbed atmosphere. Every employee still has his or her own workplace. Due to the long-term trend towards mobile working, however, the city administration is planning to introduce desk sharing, where several employees share a workstation.