Imagining the cooperation of the future: BMW Group creates flexible working environments with ConnectedWorks

The BMW Group is developing new working environments for around 70,000 associates worldwide

Flexible, individual, sustainable – that is how BMW Group working environments will be organised. The company is gradually developing a future-oriented working environment for about 70,000 associates worldwide in around 400 office buildings in more than 40 countries. Under the name ConnectedWorks, the BMW Group is continuing a process it began back in 2017: For example, at the Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ) in Munich, new working models are being created that offer every team a variety of options for combining digital, location-independent formats with flexible, individually configured forms of on-site cooperation. The aim is always to achieve the best work results.

Experience during the coronavirus pandemic has shown that the BMW Group is on the right track. Speed and location independence have proved to be important attributes of digital remote working – but they cannot replace personal exchange between colleagues. It also became clear during the challenges of the coronavirus, that innovations, team creativity and a feeling of belonging develop best on-site. Now that more in-person meetings and professional exchange are possible again, the challenge lies in combining the best of both worlds. For the BMW Group, the question of how to work together on the future of mobility is not just about how many days people work in the office or at other locations. It is about much more than that: The central idea is how BMW Group associates can perform complex integrated tasks to the best of their abilities.

One element of this is mobile working. Thanks to this development, associates have been able to organise their day-to-day work flexibly in agreement with their managers since 2013 – making the BMW Group a leader for the whole industry. “Ideas and innovations mainly come from personal exchange. That is why attractive working environments are a key success factor for us – complemented by hybrid and digital cooperation models,” says Ilka Horstmeier, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Human Resources.

ConnnectedWorks supports modern vehicle development

What this might look like in practice can be seen in the working environments at the FIZ in Munich, the heart of the BMW Group’s research and development network. Today’s modern vehicle development is a complex, integrated activity. For several years now, the BMW Group has been committed to bringing together associates from different areas of the company to work together in interdisciplinary, cross-functional teams. More than 22,000 associates currently work at FIZ under one roof. Interaction is encouraged: Newly designed team spaces facilitate communication and enable staff from different disciplines to work together. Short lines of communication, with low-threshold, cross-cutting opportunities for interaction create a space for innovation at the FIZ Tech Campus. Working together on-site and in-person is crucial – and the rapid growth in digital formats makes places for collaboration increasingly important. The BMW Group’s workplace strategy therefore deliberately focuses on the layout and providing a place that facilitates collaboration and idea-sharing. More than 30% of office spaces worldwide have already been converted. Alongside team spaces that encourage communication and interaction, there are also spaces associates can retreat to for concentrated working, as well as areas where they can recuperate and connect. In this way, the BMW Group is reinforcing its sustainable area management, while helping associates achieve optimal work results and strengthening its corporate culture. The flexible working environments are supplemented by seamless integration of digital options for location-independent cooperation.

In the future, office spaces will be geared even more towards associates’ needs. For instance, the IT Centre project at the Munich location was supported by associates as part of an analysis of working methods. This analysis phase is central to implementation of the workplace strategy. The information obtained forms the basis for the planning and implementation phase. In this way, the BMW Group is able to ensure spaces are optimally tailored to the needs of each business department and their work demands. It is all about offering associates the perfect environment for their job and preferred method of working.

Learning from and with one another

ConnectedWorks is not a rigid concept; it is a mindset that can be actively shaped by managers and associates. Each team discusses on an individual basis which combination of in-person working and digital exchange can best achieve their goals.

So everyone involved can learn from and with one another, the BMW Group invites staff to share experiences between countries on an internal community platform. It also highlights best practices and provides information on the range of training courses and methods available. The BMW Group is already committed to an open approach characterised by respectful cooperation and a genuine feeling of community. With ConnectedWorks, the company is taking the next step towards making day-to-day work even more connected and agile.


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