Helping an insurer with a 200-year tradition create a thriving new work environment for 6,500 people

Katja Gerke, Head of Organisational Development at Versicherungskammer Bayern (VKB) knew even before the pandemic that their work environment was due for a makeover. However, with COVID-19 shaking the ground on which work is built, it was time to re-evaluate how the workplace could best support and even shape the organisation’s future. As a primary insurer, the VKB and the entire industry are deeply affected by megatrends like digitalisation, workforce evolution, changing markets and the increasing consciousness for environmental and social responsibility. The “Smart Working” program is one initiative, with which the VKB is addressing these challenges and looking to leverage these opportunities.

The Customer

Corporate Logo VKB

The Versicherungskammer Group is the seventh-largest primary insurer in Germany in terms of premium income and employs approximately 7,000 employees. The group of public insurers ranks second in the German insurance market in terms of premium income and is part of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe.

The Problem

“We want to be fit for the new normal and meet the challenges held by the modern world. Digitalisation, environmental change, globalisation – there is a lot of change coming up.”

Katja Gerke, Head of Organisational Development


VKB has two primary objectives, that it wants to address with its workplace strategy. Firstly, to create a workplace that encourages employees to adopt smart working practices, to increase interdisciplinary collaboration and boost innovation. Secondly, to realise an optimised space footprint, that consumes resources efficiently and sustainably.


Although the objectives were clear, the uncertainty of future needs was the real challenge. Even today, we are only beginning to learn how hybrid work will change working habits, meaning countless uncertainties must be managed intelligently. As is often the case with real estate, the risk of wrong decisions is high. At the same time, an approach that is too cautious could lead to an unacceptably expensive solution. We needed to work with several hypotheses. And that we did.

A further challenge was the sheer scale of the initiative. The VKB decided to introduce the new work environment for all 6,500 people, including a wide range of roles located across five sites, at record speed. This was partly due to plans that were already in motion to relocate parts of the organisation and optimise the real estate portfolio. In short, traditional approaches could not meet the requirements – a new solution was needed.


The data-driven approach of spaciv allowed initial results to be calculated very quickly. It enabled the subsequent and continual refinement of the strategy. Whenever additional data was collected, or new insights are gained, the model could be quickly and easily enriched and could deliver up-to-date outputs at any time.


To develop the concept for the new work environment, a pilot site with 500 people was selected. For this site, the data for the org-model (the foundation for the development of a position-based workplace strategy) was imported into spaciv. Subsequently, user needs, including typical activity profiles and attendance rates, were estimated for different role types and linked with every position. Finally, a suitable space rule preset was selected, enabling the calculation of the initial needs-driven and tailored space program. The high level of detail of the output allowed a design partner to quickly develop layout proposals, completing the concept.


To further align the concept to the VKB’s workplace culture and vision, custom space modules were developed in a co-creation process, that involved all primary stakeholders. These were used in a custom space rule set, which links an employee’s activities with the space modules and so enables the calculation of a fully tailored space program.


Having developed a robust framework, the VKB could quickly roll out the strategy across all locations. At each site, the user needs were evaluated, resulting in a customised space program. The high level of detail of the model, meant that the outputs could be flexibly segmented, allowing the calculation of space programs for different buildings, levels, or even home zones. For each site a local design partner was selected, that was able to quickly translate the corporate strategy into detailed layouts, saving valuable time in the execution. Furthermore, organizational changes (e.g. restructuring, headcounts) can be immediately reflected in spaciv, ensuring the implementation is always aligned with the latest organisational developments.


The VKB has implemented a new working environment based on numerous assumptions regarding future user needs: most significantly the expected show rate. It is quite possible, that reality will deviate from these assumptions. However, with spaciv the VKB can continually monitor changing needs and identify optimisation opportunities. spaciv is the platform for the systematic and dynamic optimisation of the workplace strategy. 


For VKB, one of the significant benefits of using spaciv has been the ability to develop a standardised framework that automatically adapts to individual user needs. Not only did spaciv make the complexity manageable, but it also allowed the team to deliver results at a speed that surpassed all expectations. The simulation of various scenarios and the provision of peer group benchmarks offered maximum transparency, that helped senior management in their decision-making. As a result, the workplace strategy ensures that uncertainties of future needs are sensibly covered while also achieving a sustainable consumption of resources.


By implementing spaciv, the Versicherungskammer Bayern can now systematically evolve its workplace in alignment with the organisation’s changing needs, and the learnings gained about the performance of the workplace. Furthermore, by regularly reviewing each location and implementing the opportunities identified with spaciv, the organisation ensures its use of space is consistently efficient and sustainable.

“At the Versicherungskammer Bayern, smart working means that we want to provide a work environment tailored to the individual needs of all our colleagues. Therefore, we are very happy to be one of spaciv’s early customers and that we are already benefitting from the inclusive, user-centric approach for the continual evolution of our workplace.”

Katja Gerke, Head of Organisational Development