Different, not less

Lieke Genten
The editors of Nieuwsuur have recently made a tour of the largest corporate employers in the Netherlands. It appears that more than half of the companies foresee a decrease in the need for office space. After Covid, the expectation is that we will continue to work from home more often. Before Covid, employees visited the office for an average of four or five days. After the pandemic, this is anticipated to be about two to three days. The rest of the week employees work at home or, for example, at a client's location. The companies surveyed, including Capgemini Group, AEGON Netherlands, and consultancy firm Arcadis, expect a reduction in the demand for office space of 20% to 50% as a result.

A premature farewell?

But aren't we parting from the office too soon? We are indeed changing the way we work. It is obvious to everyone that Covid has accelerated the pace of digital and remote working. And yes, we will probably also work more often at home or at a location other than our office after the pandemic, but this probably does not mean that we can simply start deleting workplaces. Indeed, the physical office will acquire a new purpose after Covid, shifting the emphasis even further from workplace to place for co-working, the sharing of knowledge, and mentoring.

Consider first

So, look before you leap. First, consider the role of the office in the ambitions and nature of the business and what function it has for employees. For the new generations, because research has revealed that younger employees, in particular, are longing for the office again. For them in particular, the office is more than a workplace.
Even before Covid, for many companies to find the right personnel was already an increasing challenge. Companies that are most going to be successful in the years to come are the ones that can recruit the best talent. By 2025, 75% of the work population will be Millennials, followed by Generation Z. This means that over the next 5 years, shifts in the working environment are necessary that reflect the demands of the new work population and the times in which they live.

The next-gen office

The Millennials and Generation Z generations are looking for additional value. They want to be involved with the company, with what it stands for. With their colleagues, to be part of a community. And with the way of working, and this is more than simply the desk.
When we do our work from home, we check our email on the iPhone or Android while holding a cup of coffee. We make phone calls chatting in the sunlight that illuminates the living room, and we video-call from the sofa. We concentrate on our work at the dining table. A work environment is required that reflects these human behaviors and needs.
Besides, having social contact and interaction plays an important role. The office should encourage interaction, as this creates knowledge sharing, mentoring, collaboration, and innovation. This subsequently increases productivity and performance levels.

AFAS Software

An inspiring example of " The next-gen office", Avant la Lettre, is AFAS Software's new office building in Leusden, for which we designed the interior. "In this office, we have the extras. The extras of colleagues, of brotherhood, of being inspired and of giving inspiration", said director Bas van der Veldt of AFAS Software.
In the new office, 20% of the floor space is furnished with workstations. And the rest of the space is dedicated to a program to be together and to work together with colleagues and clients. Think about training clients and presenting software. But there are also several places to relax, like the sports hall, the meditation room and not to mention the scenic landscaped park in which the building is located.

We are noticing that other clients are still struggling with the question of the office's role in their organization and its functionality for the employees. For example, we are currently helping Feadship, among others, to create a physical space that matches the ambitions and identity of the organization and the desires and way of work for mainly the younger generation of employees.
share on linked-in