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Special supplement for edition 3 (228)
March 2018
Human resources

Locale heroes

Tomasz Cudowski

Locale heroes
Jarosław Zagórski, the commercial and development director of Ghelamco Poland

When it comes to choosing the location for an office project, the ‘three Ls’ rule is as true as it’s ever been. But a ‘good location’ has so far meant convenient public transport, uncongested roads and local services. But another factor has come into the equation: the availability of employees.

Office projects developed to house the headquarters of large companies and corporations are virtually never situated in random spots that are difficult to get to. When looking for a location for their new head office, potential tenants have always focused on the logistical issues – the presence of bus or tram lines, the time needed to reach the city centre, and the connections to the airport or the main train station. “But HR-related issues have now also now taken on a crucial strategic role,” argues Marcin Piątkowski, the commercialisation director of Torus.

From start to finish

When planning the opening of new headquarters or branch, a global company first defines its processes and key markets and then, taking these findings into account, selects the region and country with the most ideal macroeconomic and geopolitical indicators. After this, at the country level, the company looks for the perfect city, analysing the resources and labour force potential of a number of candidates. “By comparing cities it becomes possible to see the best location for recruiting employees – specialists with particular competences. After selecting the city, the next step is to research the range of office buildings available. Strictly local factors, such as the location and its transport links, the quality and what buildings have to offer, are the decisive factors here,” adds Marcin Piątkowski.

As you can see, the availability of suitable personnel is already an issue at the first stage of the above process – the education levels and labour costs in a particular country are among the key macroeconomic indicators. But the greater role being played in all this by HR departments is also reflected in their participation in the final stage of the entire process – the selection of the actual building.

“This is not only happening at the project presentation stage but increasingly often also at the final stage of the tenant’s decision for the location,” confirms Michał Żelski, the regional sales manager of Echo Investment’s office department. “The negotiations between the landlord and a potential tenant increasingly concern soft issues related to the ergonomics of the space or facilities for the tenants, even though the main factor has generally been the technical details of the building and the area leased until now. It has increasingly become the case that the company’s employees take a vote and thus contribute significantly to the choice of the office,” he adds.

Millennial choice

“The quality of the offices represents an important argument for accepting or rejecting a job offer for the generation that is now entering the labour market,” claims Jarosław Zagórski, the commercial and development director of Ghelamco Poland. “The location of the employer’s premises and the conditions in the workplace are therefore an important recruitment tool, no less crucial than the salary or employee benefits. This has been particularly noticeable in large cities where the employee has an advantage on the labour market,” he argues.

“The location and the transport links are the basic elements of an attractive package on the office market and the developer nowadays has to think not only in terms of the tenants but also of their employees,” agrees Marcin Piątkowski of Torus, giving as an example the latest stage of Alchemia: the Argon building, the ground floor of which includes a dozen or so services, mainly from the catering segment, but there is also shopping and a bank. “The largest recreational and sports centre in the TriCity, with swimming pools, saunas, a gym, a fitness club, a sports hall and a climbing wall, was developed in the earlier stages of the complex. In the next stage, the Neon building, we plan to open a nursery school and a medical clinic,” reveals Marcin Piątkowski.

Marcin Piątkowski, the commercialisation director of Torus

“Now and into the future the situation on the labour market will be changing faster than the buildings. Therefore developers are trying to put more emphasis on including the human factor in their designs despite the problems that exist on the labour market,” adds Michał Żelski of Echo Investment. “Recreational zones, easy access to the building, additional functions, the latest technology, an environmental approach and good access to natural light – these are just some of the elements that are increasingly being emphasised, because there is no better recommendation for a project than a satisfied tenant,” he says.

Cities without a tie

Developers are now more likely to agree that every tenant’s workplace requires amenities in and around their premises, although some have a greater need for them. “This is true of the entire sphere of IT, financial, SSC and consulting services,” points out Jarosław Zagórski of Ghelamco Poland. “It is worth stressing that these sectors were regarded as rather rigid and official until recently, but today, thanks to a gradual relaxation of the working environment, they are more willing to enjoy the attractions and facilities offered by the employer,” he believes.

Which cities and locations are the most ideal for office projects, in terms of the current labour market? Investors are in no doubt – conurbations with large human resources advantages reign supreme and these include locations with local universities as well as those with smaller towns in the surrounding region from which people tend to migrate to the bigger city. “The big four, such as Warsaw – because there are companies that will always want to locate their businesses in the capital city regardless of the costs and other factors – as well as Kraków, Wrocław and the TriCity dominate,” says Michał Piątkowski of Torus. “Not only is the potential of the city itself important but also the strength of its impact on neighbouring districts. For example, the sphere of ​​influence of the TriCity, the largest conurbation in northern Poland with more than a million inhabitants and a large number of universities, stretches from Szczecin to Toruń, Bydgoszcz, Olsztyn and Białystok. People migrate from these regions to the TriCity in order to study, to seek work and to obtain a higher quality of life,” he explains.

Due to their specificity, some sectors have to have a specific geographical location. For instance, Pomerania is a natural nursery for logistics companies and the entire maritime sector. “Some companies are certainly interested in the level of maturity of a given market, that is, the general level of experience given by the number of companies and people already active in that industry there,” points out Marcin Piątkowski. “Furthermore, some firms are being forced to diversify their businesses and open a branch in another city after reaching a certain level of employment – when due to their management or security policy they have to ‘put another foot down’ in a different, but suitably distant location. The TriCity is an excellent alternative to Kraków or Wrocław in this respect.

Building shape matters

Employees are attracted not only by cities or regions, but also by buildings. An example of this can be taken from the experience of the Warsaw Spire to show how important a particular place of work might be for an employee. “The owner of the building once received an e-mail with a question from a young man,” relates Jarosław Zagórski. “The man was mulling over taking up a position in a company that had said in its pitch that the office would be located in the Warsaw Spire. The candidate wanted to know if the company had in fact leased the space it had said it had from us or if this was just another marketing gimmick. Since the lease had already been made public, we were happy to confirm this in the reply to the email. As far as we know, the young man got the job and is now a Warsaw Spire user. Another tenant of our tower put a huge ‘Come to work in Warsaw Spire’ inscription on their glass walls, which was visible from a distance and also proved to be an effective recruitment tool. Outstanding office buildings will attract outstanding employees,” he concludes.

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