Despite the fact that Poland-based organisations are testing their workspace options carefully now, the demand for downtown office assets is strong following a return to work campaign and the vaccination programme roll-out. Lockdowns demonstrated that the home office is not a universal solution for every profession or person – people need spaces to focus on work, interact with colleagues, learn from each other, and collaborate in a user-friendly environment.
HB Reavis research conducted among five hundred leaders across Europe identified four major trends affecting the future of the workplace. Firstly, hybrid work will become the norm: both employers and employees expect to adopt a mix of work at home and in the office. Secondly, flexibility will be key to success and result in even more agile setups: corporate agility will extend to office leasing, and drive even greater efficiencies through technology. Thirdly, technology will play a greater role in boosting employee performance: data will power the new digital experience. And last but not least, health and well-being will be of paramount importance: employee well-being will be at the heart of the modern work experience, and how employers are judged in future.
Mixed-use in the spotlight
As safe social interactions are crucial these days, multifunctional developments that go beyond typical office monocultures are a must. An office building is no longer an island. It has to be integrated with its urban surroundings. Employees will not appreciate even the most technologically advanced building if it does not ensure them an easy commute and access to amenities on site. Simultaneously, new office projects will be more focused on the needs of Millennials associated with work-life balance. Access to relaxation zones, green areas and new food business ideas is a trend we see in our office projects in Poland.
Focus on health and well-being
The buildings solutions that are especially sought after by employers to ensure employee safety include: contactless solutions in common areas such as automated revolving doors, contactless access gates, mobile access control, automatic lift call integrated into access gates and replacement of traditional visitor cards with QR codes. Also, due to the pandemic, much closer attention is given to above-standard air quality that prevents viral replication and transmission, no air recirculation, UV light disinfection of air handling units and humidity maintained at a level of 40%. Our workspaces provide an average area of 8–10 m2 per employee, which naturally meets social distancing guidelines.
The Workspace as a Service
Most experienced real estate developers are becoming versatile consultants, expanding their ranges of products and services. Why? The office layout process has ceased to be a simple choice between an open and closed plan, just as modern office buildings are no longer a mere reflection of the developer and architect’s vision. Increasingly, this process also involves sociologists and innovation experts. Those are the people who help identify key trends associated with the evolution of work style marked by constant mobility and telecommuting as well as dynamic collaboration within cross-functional teams. They help clarify subtle differences between companies, with numerous departments employing people of different habits, temperaments and needs. This is the necessary expertise to design an office space where each employee feels good and wants to return to.
The Workspace-as-a-Service approach is also reflected in the short-term leases that give businesses the ability to easily increase and reduce the size of their workspace footprint, as well as achieve a maximum return on investment. Other examples are seamless building management that includes, e.g. an app that gives employees access to concierge and bike-sharing services, and helps to schedule well-being, health, and work-related educational events, or technological solutions that help tenants to analyse their team interactions and create safer and more efficient work styles.
An employee enters an office building through an automatic revolving door and uses a card to open the gate, getting into an elevator that arrives without the need to press any buttons, and is transported automatically to the correct floor. In the office, the appropriate system ensures optimal temperature and air humidity. During the day, the level of carbon dioxide is also controlled to ensure efficient and comfortable work. A mobile app helps employees navigate the building and its amenities… This is only a small part of the standard provided by post-pandemic office buildings.
Changes in the labour market are enormously important to an office developer. Expectations regarding work conditions in the post-pandemic reality as well as the need to spend time in places conducive to efficiency and health are factors that are redefining both the management style in organisations and the way offices are planned. More and more companies are realising that today the office is an increasingly important aspect of competition for the best employees. Their growing bargaining power means the office can often be the factor that seals the deal. In the still fairly conservative industry that is the real estate sector, the reputation of an employer that gives candidates an opportunity to carry out unique projects in a great atmosphere and within a safe office designed with employee input is a big advantage.
MARCIN KLAMMER, Country CEO for HB Reavis Poland