Client projects: Senfin | Berlin


Klosterstraße 59, Berlin-Mitte

Employees at location:


Fraunhofer IAO | Center for Responsible Research and Innovation CeRRI

February 2020

The pilot project "Arbeit mal anders" (work in a different way) from the Senate Department of Finance in Berlin is seriously transforming the office environment. The authority shows what a sustainable work culture can look like removed from a traditional office. The modern and flexible working environment was realised in collaboration with the Frauenhofer Institut and fitted by Kinnarps. The concept is establishing itself as a model for all authorities in Berlin.

Administration in transition

Berlin is constantly growing, so is in need of new solutions in municipal administration. The "war for talents" is also hitting authorities hard as they compete with other employers for qualified staff. And then there is the issue of what to do with additional staff in existing properties when urban space is limited.

The pilot project "Arbeit mal anders" (work in a different way) from the Senate Department of Finance (SenFin) Berlin has developed a sustainable work culture with corresponding demand-oriented work landscapes on the basis of scientific findings. Flexible, efficient and effective working in the space available is the goal.

In a comprehensive participation process, around 120 employees of the Senate Department have been the methodological core of the project, which is led by the Fraunhofer IAO. With the help of creative techniques, ideas were developed that guide changes in work organisation and space.

Together with Kinnarps, an adaptive furniture and room concept was developed, which was implemented and evaluated in one division first and can be applied throughout the Senate Department.

senfin_bild-056.jpgThe listed administrative building from the 1930s, located right on the banks of the Spree, gives you an hint of what it looks like inside and yet reveals nothing about the new working environment for 17 employees of the Senate Department. The four rooms represent another world and the employees are thrilled with their new workplace. "Modern, flexible, attractive and meeting all our needs" is how colleagues in the Fraunhofer IAO evaluation describe the new working landscape. And that's hardly surprising, because the extensive participation process should determine exactly how the team wants to work together and what it needs to be able to do so. Interviews, various workshops, an online survey and even sensor measurement of desk use, also carried out by Kinnarps, were the basis for the planning. The result is a mobile and flexible working environment that follows a floating desk principle, where employees have a variety of different working environments available to them and are free to choose the environment that best suits their working requirements, whether that’s a communication area for spontaneous meetings or flexible group tables for intensive project work in a team, an isolated concentration workplace or a separate conference room. This helps to break down silos, facilitate knowledge transfer and collaboration and promote creativity, efficiency and productivity. The new model is accompanied and made possible by the increasing digitalisation of administration and the expansion of digital infrastructure.

A desire for collaborative work

senfin_bild-063.jpgFlexibility and more teamwork were high on the wish list. However, the current furnishings did not allow for this. Instead, there were many desks available that were only used at 50% capacity. Today there is more space for everyone in the open, very clear area, even if the space itself hasn’t actually increased. The mix of communal and quiet workplaces invites everyone to move around more. There were fears that the redesign would ultimately result in too few workplaces being available and that there would be too much commotion in open space, but this wasn’t the case. Instead, the previously expressed desires for modern furniture, more flexible work and more teamwork have all been fulfilled.


Better effectiveness in meetings has also been achieved thanks to the right facilities. The combination of mobility and an effective working environment complement each other well.

senfin_bild-5951.jpgIn the morning the team meets at the Materia Vagabond "counter", to decide where everyone wants to work. As most team members leave the office at some point every day for appointments, there is a lot of movement here. "Some colleagues have really blossomed, where they felt a bit unseen before. We have grown together more through our central meeting place", explains Project Manager Anne Steinicke. There is a new level of communication and therefore greater identification with the team.

A more positive team climate has been created thanks to more exchange between colleagues. The spatial division with a centrally located coffee kitchen promotes contact between colleagues and they have the opportunity to grow together more.

Where work used to be done across offices with four people, there are now eight desks for 17 employees. And instead of oppressive and overwhelming cupboards, there are now lockers for personal belongings. As the division is in the process of introducing e-filing, less and less storage space is required. The associated new cleanliness in the offices is a particular plus point for the employees there. "Work has become more digital", Steinicke explains.

Employees’ satisfaction with the facilities has increased because flexible and mobile working suits them. The mobility of the furniture, such as the Vibe partitions, the chairs and tables on castors and the flexibility of the office layout have also provided built-in safety protection. The team can also continue working in a safely distanced way separated by the partition walls in team mode. At the same time, it is easy to switch to remote working at home as rooms for conferences calls are also available. Other SenFin divisions, which still work in conventional office spaces, can also be offered partial areas for shared use, because the balance is right.

The many meeting facilities are also greatly appreciated. Not only has exchange of knowledge increased, but closer contact with each other also means that greater consideration is now shown. By making targeted decisions for meetings and communication, these have become more serious and intense. The barriers to communication have come down, as there is no need to walk through the corridors to talk to each other, and managers are also easier to get hold of.

There is a large enclosed phone booth space with a desk for focused work.