4.2 Year 0, part I: Merger preparations with the NAC (2002)
4.2.5 The office issue
The office issue came up as the NAC on 18 October, 2002, signed a contract for a new office building for RiR. When this was announced, it became clear that not all personnel would have individual offices.
This had been a recurring request from personnel, very clearly
conveyed, for example, at workshops during the merger preparations kick-off in May, 2002. With the new office building, the NAC aimed at 80 per cent of employees having individual offices, and 20 per cent being placed in office landscapes (NAC meeting, 25 October 2002).
Both unions and personnel objected loudly, and this question came to dominate the remainder of phase I.
At first, this choice of office building led to conflict between RRV and PA. Some RRV employees now blamed PA, for having “forced” them all to move into a new building. There would have been space for them all at the RRV office but PA had simply refused this possibility, it was argued at RRV. This was also argued in the media, where it was highlighted how costly moving would be.31 At PA, personnel responded by emphasizing that the decision to move had not at all been theirs.
Very soon, the criticism took a new course. It was now directed towards management level - the NAC - instead. Both RRV and PA personnel were discontented, and the NAC had been responsible for the choice of office and office design. For reasons of principle, and to symbolize that RiR was a totally new and independent authority, a new office building had been necessary, it was argued already during the later cancelled merger preparations process.32
According to personnel, the NAC had promised to honour their request that everyone was to have their personal office at RiR. NAC argued that they had never made such a promise.33 Now the NAC had
31For example in the SVT news broadcast Aktuellt, on 10 February, 2003. After an introduction, the journalist explained: “This concerns just over 200 people from RRV and circa 30 from PA, who should share space in the same facility.
Although RRV has appropriate facilities at Drottninggatan, not far from here, staying here has never been an option – although it would be both more practical and cheaper than moving 200 auditors a couple of kilometres away. No, the motive behind moving is that only new facilities can create a new spirit in a new authority.” In the interview, Luke responded: “Of course it is very important that the new authority has a new identity, that there is something new being created, not just a continuation of the old.” The costs for moving were estimated to more than 80 million SEK in the broadcast.
32Letter from the union ST/RRV to the NAC, dated 5 February, 2003.
33No documentation can be found either, to prove such a promise. However, what can be found is documentation from the kick-off, where workshops resulted in requests from most groups, concerning individual offices.
signed a contract for an office building that was too small for each employee to have his or her own office. Union representatives explained that they had been promised that all employees would have individual offices, referring to formal correspondence and protocols.
At the same time as these promises were made, in the spring of 2002, an assignment had been placed with the Swedish Agency for Public Management (Swedish: Statskontoret), to look for an office building where 60 per cent of employees would have individual offices, and 40 per cent work in office landscapes:34
As union representative, ST notes with disappointment that personnel have not had any sympathy for its demands in this matter, which for many is considered to be the most important one, to achieve efficiency and comfort.
Union representatives were called in to negotiate with the NAC. The solution that had been suggested would not lead to the proportions 80/20, unions argued, after calculations. Instead, only 57 per cent of personnel would have individual offices, and 43 per cent would be placed in office landscapes, according to the suggested solution.
Standpoints in these calculations differed between the NAC and unions.35
Now, the unions, by means of an electronic questionnaire to its members, set out to put pressure on the NAC in this issue. A large majority (97 per cent of respondents from SACO, and 81 per cent from ST) replied that they wanted an individual office.36 They were also asked to rank the importance of this matter. According to results, it was of very high importance (among SACO members the average was 4.6, on a scale from 1 to 5).
The main argument for individual offices was that this was necessary for an auditor’s daily work – telephone calls, sometimes telephone
34Letter from the union ST/RRV to the NAC, dated 5 February, 2003.
35Letter from the union ST/RRV to the NAC, dated 5 February, 2003.
36Letter from the union ST/RRV to the NAC, dated 5 February, 2003.
interviews, and analytical work demanded a calm and private environment, personnel explained.37
Finally, the NAC agreed to change the office solution, in order to allow more auditors personal offices. The final solution was approximately 60 per cent in individual offices, 40 per cent in landscapes.38 Personnel were still upset with the way that the NAC had argued and acted, not admitting their previous promises, and they were upset that some of them still would have to work in an office landscape. The office issue would continue to be discussed during the years to come, and there were often complaints about the office building, for example concerning the lack of soundproofing, lack of privacy, and lack of conference rooms.