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Does the ideal office exist?

Does the ideal office exist?

by Monika Rajska-Wolinska
A good space to work in is not just determined by quality furniture and design. The importance of creating a positive atmosphere that makes you feel good when you enter an office, whilst also delivering a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’, cannot be underestimated.

I believe that the perfect place to work exists. Of course, there is no single definition of perfect, because it means something different to everyone. For some, the perfect place to work is a closed room that provides isolation and silence. For others, it is a space for interaction and spending time with other people.

Time for a change

Not too long ago, all offices felt the same. The individual office layout dominated the office landscape, with almost all companies having their space divided into large and small rooms. Then came the era of open space, initially resisted by staff accustomed to the previous model, eventually it became the accepted norm.

Very important changes in how offices are arranged are now under way, and they have been triggered by several factors. One of the most important is demographic changes, which despite having been talked about for several years, only now are we consciously starting to see people from different generations working in one company, in one office. The needs, habits and preferences of all these people have to be reconciled, which is no easy task.

The second factor affecting how offices look today is the increased use in all kinds of electronic devices and applications, which causes distraction and lower productivity at work.

The third, and equally important factor, is the unavoidable changes in company structure or leadership model enforced by the evolving business environment that most organisations are currently undergoing. The new style of management often requires a change in office space. A new organisational culture can be achieved precisely by changing the space in which we spend most of the day.

How can this be done?

There is no golden rule on how to create a great space to work in. Just blindly following the latest fashions is not the right way because each organisation is different, just like the people working in them. Another aspect is that in the current employee market, the office has become an important bargaining chip in the battle for talented staff. In particular, employers need to carefully consider the needs of the younger generation, who are just entering the labour market. The perfect office then is one that meets the expectations of employees and their style of work.

Creating a great place to work requires time, energy and openness to change. It’s not enough to just find a building in a good location, although even doing this is not easy today.

Creating a great place to work requires time, energy and openness to change.

Recent years have seen a strong trend for tailor-made offices that are flexible and combine different types of space (for working in silence, for group work and for relaxing). Our advisors, aware of the latest trends, recommend these types of offices to clients, offering not only support in terms of leasing, but also in arranging office space.

However, before we began offering clients workplace innovation, we started with ourselves and changed our Warsaw office. It has always been my dream to create a great place to work and I think I have managed to do it. I wanted to show our staff what a tailor-made office is, so they can advise our clients based on their own positive experience.

Creating this kind of office is a complex process. First of all, it requires a thorough analysis of the way the company functions, looking at the staff (from what generation they come from, what style of work they prefer) and predicting what expectations they will have in a few years. At Colliers, this analysis starts with the management team by asking what their needs are, and then we ask the staff how they work and what space they need to do it.

A flexible office, in addition to technical changes, also needs the way that work is organised to be modified, such as introducing flexible hours, remote working, and above all a change in the mentality of company management. Unfortunately, many business leaders do not see the office as a mechanism that can help them increase productivity.

Spirit and substance

Space has a huge impact on how staff feel at work, which translates into the success of the entire company. But the space itself is not enough. In addition to being well equipped and having an interesting and functional design, it needs a positive atmosphere, an energy that attracts people and connects them with the company. An office in which all these elements work together is the ideal place to work. Companies that decide against this kind of change will find it harder and harder to keep their best people.

Monika Rajska-Wolińska

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