Human Resources

Transforming the workplace
to inspire a unique employee experience

Published 22 July 2019



Stéphane Lebeau
Former VP Total Rewards & Talent Lab


Having a well-balanced work environment is a reward that pays off on a daily basis and is possibly one of the best returns on investment when it comes to enhancing the employee experience and engagement. This is incredibly important since attracting and retaining talent remains a key performance indicator for those who aspire to build a high-performing organization and ensure its long-term sustainability. Dialogue, regular feedback, and ongoing recognition are now becoming more prevalent, but a work environment that fosters creativity, innovation, positive attitude and teamwork is priceless.

From traditional closed offices and cubicles to open space and unassigned workspaces, the idea is to shift from a rigid workplace to flexible spaces and different zones catering to different needs: open space workstations for efficiency, private zones for confidential discussions, quiet zones for work requiring concentration, and collaborative zones for teamwork. We spend one-third of our life at work. It is then fair to say that the workspace becomes an extension of home. It is a part of the whole, connecting us to our personal identity. The workplace should be an extension of the company’s culture, but it should also be viewed as an extension of the self. There is no one secret recipe, and finding the right balance is key to improving the employee experience.

Transforming the working environment starts with understanding the values conveyed through the organization’s culture. Transforming the work environment is also about understanding the demography of its people and their needs and differences. This is a real challenge, and change management should not be underestimated. Contrary with transforming our home, where the goal is to satisfy the needs of the few, trying to satisfy the needs of many within an organization is a challenging experience. Thus, we can see the importance of listening, consulting, co-creating, and setting key principles for the transformation of the work environment. As an illustration, the following six (6) principles were drawn up as the foundation for the future work environment at the Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group.

Mobility and Agility - Our workspace allows us to work in different environments, based on our moods and our needs.

All together  - We break borders and eliminate silos, and this is reflected in our working environment.

Art and Nature - Plenty of natural light, art is omnipresent, our workspace offers different locations for where to rest and recharge our batteries.

Teamwork - We opt for open and private space dedicated to collaboration.

Health and Safety - We promote healthy lifestyle choices and prevention, good eating habits and physical activities.

Respect for Individual differences - Each of us is unique, and this diversity constitutes our wealth.

Rather than building walls and offices, which are costly and often counter-productive, Cirque du Soleil opted for new materials, flexible furniture and off-the-shelf solutions. They integrated new technology when modernizing the workplace, and were environmentally conscious when selecting furniture, carpets, lighting and decorations. As an organization in the entertainment business, the goal is to make people dream and live a memorable experience. It is with the same mindset that the company created an environment to make their employees dream and create a connection with their purpose.

The working environment is the backbone of stimulating employee engagement. It allows employees to showcase their individual talents and realize their ambitions. A positive employee experience fosters creativity and innovation, two essential ingredients in self-realization and the organization’s success.


Smart Workspace Design Expo
17 - 18 October 2019

Taerts Art and Event Park, Amsterdam