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

Building for the human factor

Building for the human factor
Oskar Kasiński, the CEO of HR Design Group

Office design and amenities can go a long way when it comes to retaining staff, argues Oskar Kasiński of HR Design Group.

Eurobuild Central & Eastern Europe: What kind of worker expectations might impact the form of an office?

Oskar Kasiński, CEO, HR Design Group: According to a survey by Sodexo Benefits and Reward Services, the three types of fringe benefits most often expected by employees include an extended medical package, a company car for private use as well as flexible working times. In theory, they have nothing to do with an office’s location or the workplace but when you take a closer look, you see that medical centres have been in office buildings for years in order to be accessible to workers. A company car often includes a parking space in the company car park and flexible working times are something that seems completely natural to the younger generation of employees. This is also because we have finally learned to apply the principle of ‘work-life balance’ in practice; work is important but is often not the most crucial thing. The criteria based on which global companies make their choice of location for their office or branch are the situation on the job market followed by employee workplace requirements, which are different to those that previous employees used to have (including ecological systems and building technologies, racks for cyclists, cloakrooms with showers as well as a canteen and a bar). Today it is not just the location but more importantly the amenities of a given centre that decide the choice of an office location. If you look at most projects today, you can see that offices are starting to become more homely. Boundaries are becoming blurred and we are meant to feel just as good at home as at work.

What effect will changes on the labour market have on office trends?

In principle every industry is sensitive to changes in the labour market, but the construction, finance and hotel industries are particularly so. If we talk about construction, there is a season for building projects and a continuous shortage of workers not only from Poland but also from Ukraine. For a very large number of interior fit-out companies that are working on office projects, wage costs are rising, and so projects are becoming more and more expensive, since margins are usually slim. Finance and especially the shared service centre sector (SSC and BPO) are also very vulnerable areas of the market. Most centres open up in a given country mainly because of low operating costs, so the challenge of developing and retaining talent is becoming more and more evident in this business line, and it is changing from a young to a mature market in Poland. In the hotel industry, however, there is a huge problem with front desk employees i.e. the reception desk and the house-keeping staff who clean the hotel rooms. Here too there are not enough employees and the situation with staff from the across the eastern border is exactly the same as it is for the construction industry. Nowadays what is most important for the employee is flexible working time and the possibility to work at home. Depending on the organisation, employees are usually allowed to work from home for a few days a month but more and more frequently companies treat remote working as a regular thing – if an employee does not have to work in the office, they are simply not there and this also allows office space to be optimised.

What additional services can have an impact on the popularity of an office project?

When it comes to extra amenities in office buildings, more and more people are leaving their laundry at self-service laundry pick-up stations as well as leaving their bicycles at specially designated bike racks. Parking spaces are worth their weight in gold, so this is definitely a good lure for commuters. People are often eager to leave their children at nursery schools within the complex of the office building they work in, which is much more convenient for the family commute. Modern technologies are also of significance, such as a system that is to be used in one office building in Warsaw’s Wola district whereby with the use of a smartphone app an employee will be able to call a lift, open doors, reserve meeting rooms, and order additional services (such as laundry or food to the office) and also control the lighting and temperature of the room. Young people are almost physically attached to their telephones, so everything that can be done with them will seem both normal and natural tor them and they will be happy to make use of it.

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