Picture from the back of a person attending a Teams meeting with 2 colleagues, discussing about a furniture fabric.
Read Time, 5 min.

“Since moving to the cloud, there are no limitations anymore. And I’m certain without this technology, we would not have seen the growth we have today.”

Jaap Landsaat, CFO and Head of IT at Dutch furniture designer Zuiver, is talking about the profound impact technology has had on the business he co-founded more than 20 years ago.

“Back then, we had 100 orders a week and just a handful of people to fill them,” he says. “Now that’s grown to around 8,500, and technology has helped us scale up without needing hundreds of people to manage each order by hand.”

Zuiver migrated to the cloud back in 2018 to help its growing number of employees and suppliers worldwide communicate and collaborate efficiently. A move that also helped the company smoothly transition to remote working during the COVID-19 crisis – ensuring both business and social interactions could continue like normal.

“The nicest thing is that after 20 years we still have the same culture. We’ve gone from four founders to around 100 people, but everyone can still work and collaborate in an informal way both in and out of the office.

“And that’s because of the Microsoft products we are using today.”

From childhood start-up to global designer

Zuiver’s story starts back in 1998, with four friends founding two different furniture companies in the Netherlands – one selling directly to stores as wholesale and another outlet model that sold to customers.

“We had sales agreements with certain Italian and German producers to sell their items exclusively in the Netherlands,” says Landsaat. “But after a couple of years we wanted to be bigger and better, so tried to find the factories behind the products we sold to see if we could make them ourselves. We were pretty successful, and once we had a logistics partner, we quickly grew 30% year-on-year.”

“In 2011, we decided to trade under one name for our organization and our interior collection – Zuiver.”

The Dutch designer continued to grow rapidly, soon selling their contemporary furniture in more than 80 countries worldwide. But with the added complexity that comes with having staff and suppliers based across the world, Zuiver saw an opportunity to use technology to make their business processes more efficient – moving their entire operation into the cloud through a Microsoft 365 solution.

Supporting a company culture through the cloud

With the help of Microsoft partner, Advisor ICT Solutions, Zuiver began migrating to the Microsoft cloud as part of their head office relocation in 2018.

“Removing our physical servers opened up new possibilities to use Microsoft programs,” explains Landsaat. “OneNote and SharePoint were adopted pretty quickly, and we promoted Microsoft Teams as an easy way to work in small project groups or as a department when you all needed access to the same document.”

With big changes across Zuiver, including implementing Microsoft Teams as a cloud-based phone system, Advisor ICT Solutions offered training courses to help employees quickly adopt these new tools and learn how they can be used to streamline both supplier and customer-facing processes.

“It was a big shift for everybody,” Landsaat adds. “So on top of the training offered by Advisor, we also developed our own intranet and created support groups on Yammer to keep having these conversations and letting people learn off each other and ask questions.

“Yammer’s become a really handy platform to share company information securely, and people now use Teams chat for meet-ups outside the office too, which is a great fit for our company.”

Embracing a remote-working model

“I think it was March 15th when our Prime Minister asked everyone to stay home,” says Landsaat, as he recalls the company’s rapid transition to remote working to meet COVID-19 restrictions.

“It was a difficult period with the markets closing down, but it was also a chance for Teams to be really embraced across Zuiver. Everyone realized how easy it was to host meetings and work across the same documents, and it allowed us to form project groups that could effectively work together – even from different sides of the globe.”

With other Microsoft 365 tools already implemented, Zuiver had all the measures in place to keep both supply chain and shipping processes in check, and ensure their entire workforce could continue to operate effectively outside of the office.

“The technology is actually empowering me to do what I do best,” says Caroline van Velze, Creative Director and co-founder of Zuiver.

“Every month I would travel all over the world to check samples and have contact with our production areas, but now this design process can all be achieved through video calling – and I can still be creative because I draw by hand.”

“We’ve always had a very informal way of working together – our Zuiver DNA,” she adds. “Be proud of what you’re doing and have fun while you’re doing it, and Teams has really helped that continue outside the office with social activities like yoga lessons and Friday afternoon drinks still taking place from home.”

“From a mental health point too,” says Landsaat. “It can be hard to not see colleagues face-to-face anymore. But with a tool like Teams, you can just turn your camera on and feel part of the office again. It’s a great way to work together.”

A modern working environment for every employee

As Zuiver now reflects back on the last two years, the benefits of technology have left a lasting impression not just on the company but also the way people work day-to-day. An outcome Landsaat is sure will continue to impact their culture both now and in the future.

“This period has shown how effectively we can all work together from a distance,” he says. “We can stay in contact and maintain the same output and efficiency whether people are in the office or at home, which is all possible because of these Microsoft programs.

“Our future is smaller offices and people working as a one team without being in the same building – and we have a very positive feeling about that as an organization.”

Roadmap to Digital Infinity: How to become an Intelligence Driven Organization

Unleash the potential of your organization with Microsoft’s practical guide to harnessing data and AI.

Discover more related articles per industry:

Education

  • Cloud

    A guide to GDPR for universities

    With the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation coming into effect on May 25, understand how universities like yours can take the right steps towards compliance with this free eBook – and other useful resources. Your university on a journey on a journey Your university is on a journey with lots of ‘data subjects’. They’re […]

  • Cloud

    A guide to GDPR for schools

    A guide to GDPR for schools With the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation coming into effect on May 25, understand how schools like yours can take the right steps towards compliance with this free eBook – and other useful resources. Your school on a journey Your school is on a journey with lots of […]

Government

  • a group of people standing next to a dog

    Belgian police force completes secure, mobile-first transformation

    Information sharing is now much easier for officers and support staff – thanks to Microsoft Teams on a powerful and secure digital platform.

  • a group of people performing on stage in front of a crowd

    City of Liège: Facilitating decision making in difficult times

    For many organizations, social-distancing measures brought about by COVID-19 have drastically slowed day-to-day operations – and for some, even stopped them altogether. But for local governments across Europe, like the Belgian city of Liège, slowing down hasn’t been an option.  From supporting citizens and businesses to protecting frontline workers, Liège city had to quickly provide stability during this crisis and ensure important decisions could still be made in a democratic […]

Healthcare

  • a person sitting in front of a laptop computer

    The ‘Big Bang’ approach to digital transformation – and how to make it work

    These days there’s no such thing as ‘business as usual’. Change and disruption are the new normal. Just think of the changes affecting your organization right now, with new technology and techniques driving new attitudes and expectations from employees and customers alike. Everything is changing. And the one thing all those changes have in common […]

  • Healthcare professionals operating on a patient

    Maasstad Hospital: Working as one medical team during a crisis

    In times of crisis, an organization looks to its leadership for guidance. As COVID-19 spread through Europe in early 2020, Maasstad Ziekenhuis Hospital CEO Peter Langenbach had planned to lead his hospital’s crisis response as he would any other – being present and visible, leadership traits instilled in him during his time in the Dutch […]

Manufacturing

  • a woman smiling for the camera

    Etex Group: Future-proofing employees to work anywhere across the world

    When COVID-19 spread across Europe in early 2020, businesses entered a new digitally-dependent age. Social distancing measures had asked offices of all shapes and sizes to close their doors, sparking organizations to quickly find other virtual ways for colleagues to meet and collaborate remotely. But for Belgium building material specialist Etex, this was a step they were ready for – having already implemented a cloud-based infrastructure and collaboration tools […]

  • Etex

    Etex uses modern tools to unite its business and better focus on customers

    When it comes to construction, all components must come together in a timely manner in order to produce the optimum product. While Etex, a Belgian building solution manufacturing company, helps make this a reality on a day-to-day basis, it wanted to find a way to enhance productivity and collaboration internally. With locations across more than […]

Retail

Discover more related articles per dossier:

Customer Stories

  • a person sitting in front of a laptop computer

    SSVOZ: Making distance learning a personalized experience

    When this period of remote learning is evaluated – without a doubt, some of the techniques we’ve used will have a more permanent place in the classrooms of the near future. Antoon Fens, IT Coordinator at Stichting Stedelijk Voortgezet Onderwijs Zoetermeer (SSVOZ), explains the critical role technology has played for education in the Netherlands, during […]

Digital Transformation

  • a person preparing food in a kitchen

    Humanitas-DMH: empowering key workers with a secure digital support

    “Our goal is to create an environment where people with mental disabilities can feel safe, secure and happy.” Marcella van Kraaij, Digital Transformation Advisor at Dutch healthcare provider Humanitas-DMH, is discussing her organization’s key objectives – and how the technology her team recently adopted is helping it to achieve them. Every day, the carers and […]

Security & Privacy

  • Two people sitting and standing in front of a computer

    How to disarm the threat of Shadow IT

    One of the biggest threats to business security comes from within. Are you equipped to deal with the threat of shadow IT? Microsoft’s extensive Work Reworked report shows that with change becoming the new norm for businesses everywhere, the challenges to security lie not just from outside the organisation but also from within. Throwing open […]

Tips