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Bosch revolutionizes the working environment for its researchers

Trix Boehne

Trix Boehne >

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Renningen research campus: Bosch’s own “Stanford”

For more than 130 years, the history of Bosch has been a story of innovative strength – and every day, some 390,000 associates give that story fresh impetus with their know-how and their ideas. New products and services are constantly being “Invented for life.” Technology is being developed to improve quality of life and to help conserve resources. For example, vehicle assistance and safety systems developed by Bosch have saved many lives. Products such as app-controlled robotic lawnmowers make life more pleasant. The foundation for this innovative strength is a working culture that promotes satisfaction, creativity, and productivity. Particularly clear expression is given to this culture through the architecture and workplace design of the new research campus in Renningen, near Stuttgart, Germany. It is the headquarters of Bosch corporate research and advance engineering.

Short distances for connected disciplines and easy collaboration

To physically and technically connect specialists and visionary thinkers from various disciplines in the best possible way, both trusted and new ideas were put into practice in planning the campus. One further aim was to create a university campus atmosphere. Some 1,400 creative minds who were previously scattered across three locations in the greater Stuttgart area now work on campus, side by side. On the site of a disused airfield, there now stand a twelve-story main building, eleven laboratory and workshop buildings, and two service buildings. To keep the distances between them as short as possible, the buildings themselves are linked by covered bridges and walkways. Daily work routines also played a part when planning who should work in each of the buildings, with a project team polling associates to find out who works most intensively with whom. This information was fed into software in order to calculate a network matrix that illustrated the relationships between departments. The more intensive the collaboration between given areas, the closer they were physically located in Renningen.

Space for creativity: focus on associates

Another special feature in Renningen is how the workplace design is tailored to associates’ needs. The project team responsible broke down the work processes in the innovation process into individual elements, and then defined three phases: creativity, concentration, and communication. On this basis, and taking into account associates’ requests, an entirely new office world has taken shape. It provides space for people to come up with ideas while ensuring there is room for associates working in widely differing disciplines to share their thoughts.

Communication zones: spontaneous, informal meetings

In addition to the individual workspaces, a total of 270 large and small meeting rooms distributed throughout the campus buildings set the tone by making space for focused work and teamwork. They include focus rooms where people can concentrate on their work undisturbed, and special project rooms. The project rooms are used for lengthy periods of time. Researchers can not only visualize their ideas with colorful notepads, but also write on the walls and windows. That way, teams can always pick up their work where they left off. On average, associates need walk only ten meters to reach the nearest meeting room. The research campus places particular importance on what are known as communication zones. These specially-designed rooms encourage the spontaneous exchange of ideas and ensures that talks are held in a creative atmosphere. The zones are also ideal for work away from one’s desk. Some communication zones are designed like a living room or lounge, while others offer the opportunity to play table football or ping-pong. This is a deliberate attempt to foster serendipitous encounters that will provide impetus for new ideas and solutions.

“Platform 12”: a creative area for inspiration and ideas generation

On the top floor of the main building, “Platform 12” is a giant creative area. At one remove from the rules and structures of everyday work, this is somewhere associates can inspire each other. In the main room – the “base” – 1930s furniture is juxtaposed with state-of-the-art technology, including 3D printers and smart-boards. In the future, the smart-boards will allow researchers to communicate live with colleagues around the world – in Palo Alto, say, or Singapore. In addition, there are workbenches and materials with which to build models. Artists from the international art academy Akademie Schloss Solitude work here, too, providing a practical counterpoint to the often theoretical, conceptual work of the researchers.

Inside and out: everywhere is a workspace

Associates can use the entire campus as a place of work, including its green spaces and water features. With wi-fi available everywhere, it is no surprise that desks are free of fixed-line telephones. Thanks to voice over internet, associates can take calls on their laptops or smartphones, wherever they happen to be. As a result, anyone who doesn’t want to work in an office or a lab can simply grab their laptop and smartphone and head out into the park. In Renningen, too, what counts is not presence in the office but actual results.

Balancing work and leisure time: flexible working and fitness options

For Bosch, it is not just workplace design but also a flexible, family-friendly working culture that enables a healthy balance between people’s work and private lives. This includes a multitude of working-time models, including working from home, part-time work, and job sharing. For associates who work in a think tank like corporate research and advance engineering, it is particularly easy to work from home or set working hours flexibly.

A dedicated fitness studio featuring courses led by qualified instructors opens its doors early in the morning. The location’s multipurpose hall serves as an after-work venue for badminton players and football teams, but it is also somewhere associates can go during the day to come up with new ideas. A bright, friendly company restaurant and café is an inviting space for associates to have lunch, network, or unplug themselves from day-to-day work. Meanwhile, in cooperation with the city of Renningen, Bosch offers young families – including those not living in Renningen – spots for their little ones in local daycare facilities.

Internet:

Bosch as an employer: https://www.bosch-career.de/en

Milestones of flexible working culture at Bosch: https://bit.ly/1bSJ7QM

Work-life balance at Bosch: http://bit.ly/1ex6rDa

About Bosch

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 400,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2019). The company generated sales of 77.7 billion euros in 2019. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. As a leading IoT provider, Bosch offers innovative solutions for smart homes, Industry 4.0, and connected mobility. Bosch is pursuing a vision of mobility that is sustainable, safe, and exciting. It uses its expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer its customers connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to facilitate connected living with products and solutions that either contain artificial intelligence (AI) or have been developed or manufactured with its help. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.” The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiary and regional companies in 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing, engineering, and sales network covers nearly every country in the world. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. Bosch employs some 72,600 associates in research and development at 126 locations across the globe, as well as roughly 30,000 software engineers.

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861–1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant upfront investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

Additional information is available online at www.bosch.com, www.iot.bosch.com, www.bosch-press.com, www.twitter.com/BoschPresse.

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