This week Sue Davies dials in with Koos de Keijzer, founding Principal of DKO, to discuss how the dynamics of their workplace practices have changed.
April 30th, 2020
Continuing the conversation with the industry, this week I dialled in with the fabulous Koos de Keijzer the founding Principal of DKO. The studio has been on a growth trajectory and they currently have 207 staff across 6 studios in 3 countries, Australia/New Zealand and Vietnam.
It was really refreshing to hear that Koos and the team were early adopters of the social distancing policy, quickly moving to a week on week off methodology and giving the teams flexibility to work from home. They had even taken into consideration the fear their staff had in getting on public transport and have been using alternative ways to ferry their employees to work and home. Throughout this process Koos believes that the consistent thread is to be kind in the world, to onesself, to each other and those we spend time with.
The general feel from DKO is that whilst the dynamics and the environment may have changed. The consensus is genuinely business as ‘the new normal’. It almost feels that with less travel and more Zoom time there is indeed more time to be present both in a design capacity and with individuals. That said, there is certainly an understanding that people need people and that everyone misses some sort of human contact. This is why they have continued to allow their teams access to the office.
The ‘New Normal’ has allowed creativity to flow across the studios and different people and cultures have been educating the rest of the team, for example at the beginning of Ramadan they shared knowledge of fasting and the beauty behind the process bonding the cultural diversity within the studios.
DKO have developed their own smart cone of isolation when it comes to space and hot desking. They are allowing their staff large areas in which to work and complete freedom in their hours in order to suit their ISO lives. Koos believes that one needs to be very open under the circumstances and life in general so long as the studio is definitive in their KPI’s and their delivery deadlines.
One extremely interesting observation that the team had picked up on was that during these times was the amount that sick days had diminished by almost 90%. Productivity and efficiency varies within the project stages, however the delivery of projects and presentations remains on programme. This makes it glaringly obvious that the giving employees an open, honest and flexible environment was indeed making them far more productive and happy.
Koos had also noted the different behaviour across continents recognising the resilience of the Vietnamese and the passion and drive they had in tackling the situation head on. These traits are inherent in a population who have been through way worse over time.
It seems to me that the genuine and real understanding of its people and what the future may look like is what makes Koos and the team at DKO very at ease with ‘the new normal’.
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