The meeting was held on 22 April 2016 at the theatre in Art Norblin. The focus was on the way that IT and demographic change was affecting the way offices look and function.
The era of the office where workers come to their desks, each located in an individual room, and each desk has its desktop computer and telephone, is coming to an end. A new generation of employees entering the labour market has entirely different expectations as to conditions in the workplace. Laptops and smartphones, often owned by the employees (‘Bring Your Own Device’ or BYOD is becoming more prevalent) mean that hot-desking and activity-based workspace is becoming more common in large multinational corporations
In the war to attract and retain talent, creating the right ambience in the office becomes essential. Employers are increasingly have to consider the workplace environment in these terms, rather than merely worrying about price per square metre.
The meeting attracted many HR managers and facility management specialists, as well as real estate practitioners and architects, who were all looking for high-level insight into the way the workplace of the future is likely to evolve.
After an opening speech from Michael Dembinski, the BPCC’s chief advisor, Derrick J Bock, partner, head of workplace strategy at Cushman & Wakefield gave a presentation based on best practices from across the world, to show how leading corporates implement engaging, effective and efficient workplaces. Drawing on his Silicon Valley experience, Mr Bock highlighted the changes happening in the workplace, and how companies are reacting to it. Paulina Mazur, director of employer branding and talent development at Bigram talked about the forces motivating the Millennials generation – and what that would mean in terms of the workplace environment most likely to keep them engaged.
The two thought-provoking presentations were followed by a panel discussion moderated by Mr Dembinski, during which the two presenters were joined by Aleksandra Janusz, the senior leasing manager, at HB Reavis. There were many questions from the audience, in particular concerning cultural differences between Poland and the US and UK, and how those may determine the way ‘distance-to-power’ manifests itself in office design. The consensus from the panellists was that globalisation is tending to smooth out cultural differences among the Millennial Generation, which is connected via IT like no previous generation ever had been. The question of how to foster change, which needs support from board-level, was addressed; this would be more difficult within Polish owned- and managed firms than in global corporations. Middle managers, with their eye on a private office, can also be obstructive when a company seeks to move to hot-desking.
Flexibility in workspaces is crucial, said Mr Bock, saying that activity-based office space is key. “There should be different types of area for different types of work – group work, deep work that requires unbroken concentration, and offices for meetings held standing up. Speaking on behalf of a property developer, Ms Janusz said that different companies are specifying their office space in different ways – not all clients ‘get it’ when it comes to the changes that are impending.
Ms Mazur referred to the ‘war on talent’ and the increasing difficulty to recruit and retain the brightest Millennials. They are aware of their worth, and want their workplace to reflect their worldview and their values, she said.