Office instead of writing desk – report on the Functional Office Seminar 2012

Reports from

The first meeting of the Functional Office Seminar 2012 was held in Kraków Business Park in Zabierzów near Cracow on 28th February 2012. Innovation was its leading motif.

The Functional Office Seminar 2012 inaugurated a series of lectures and discussions, which will take place this year in different regions of Poland (in Poznań, Katowice, Warszawa, Wrocław, Gdańsk, and Łódź). Host of the annual event is Office Magazine.

The seminar was devoted to the issues of innovative solutions for office arrangement, effective working tools, and change implementation. Also the organiser’s partners presented their activity during an exhibition part. Portal e-biurowce was involved in the project.

The seminar in Kraków Business Park was divided into two parts. The first one was more practical and focused on particular functional solutions. There were presented strategies used by model companies and the role of mobile work-stands in corporations. The presentations were prepared by Dorota Osiecka (DEGW UK), Marta Domaradzka (Accenture) i Mariusz Wilarski (Microsoft).

During the second part, architects, Marek Dunikowski (DDJM) and Krzysztof Ingarden (Ingarden & Ewy), presented their opinions on office block projects and the development of office space. Participants took part in discussion panels and got acquainted with Allmendinger’s offer of modular furniture.

Own writing desk lands on the scrap heap

At the beginning of the seminar, Bogusz Parzyszek, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of monthly Office Magazine, introduced the presentation by Dorota Osiecka, Senior Strategy Consultant at DEGW UK (“Change management: how to survive the spatial and functional revolution”). The author tried to answer the question: which tools are used to manage change in an office. She noted that in traditional offices, 80 percent of time was devoted to individual work, whereas merely 20 percent of time – to group work. According to her opinion, these proportions are reversed and flexible workplaces play a key role in change management.

Bogusz Parzyszek gave Macquarie Bank as an ex ample of the institution in which work-stands are not divided among individual employees. This model grows in popularity also in our country. In Poland it is implemented, among others, by: Deutsche Bank. Employees of such world institutions log in by name cards when entering the workplace. The participants watched a movie about practical functioning of Deutsche Bank’s offices, provided by international supplier of financial services.

Relax in a modern office

About the reality of work in the office without stable work-stands told Marta Domaradzka, Director of Administration at Accenture Poland, who implemented in her company in 2009 DEGW system of flexible work – Workplace 2.0. Together with office design not only its functionality has changed, but above all employees’ way of thinking. The panelist stressed the necessity of moving away from a concept of workplace in terms of "my desk" to "my office."

The distinctive feature of Workplace 2.0. is moving away from permanent jobs to mobile workforce, which contributes to project realisation. In companies such as Accenture, in which a lot of tasks is performed outside the office, this model works outstandingly. The model’s desk booking system should be respected by all employees, with the exception of the Board. Reservations can be made online, up to one month in advance, however particular rooms are available for all. Staff may choose among project rooms, open space, conference halls, or chillout rooms.

Introduction of chillout rooms, so-called „chill outs”, was a novelty. This is a separate space, designed to rest. Furnishing may be modified according to employees’ needs.  This place contributes to the maintenance of mental health – individual people come here in order to collect thoughts before making an important decision, talk, or become regenerated.

On the one hand, the lack of own place in an office makes work more transparent, but on the other, it improves concentration and focus on task.  In the Accenture’s office transparency is additionally intensified by glass, transparent walls which separate individual rooms. However, it does not mean that employees cannot maintain some privacy that definitely improves concentration. Particular desks are separated from one another by partitions, whose height was decided after consultation with the people employed by the company.

Intelligent working tools

A speech delivered by Mariusz Wilarski, IT Program Manager at Microsoft, brought a fresh look at office work. He met the seminar participants in form of a teleconference and gave a lecture entitled “Mobile Office”, showing the possibilities of selective presentation of content (TV) and Microsoft Lync program (extended version of Skype). It is used for communication and office work; allowing for, among others, audio and video connections, online meeting participation, desktop and application sharing or displaying multimedia presentations in each place, without the necessity of using projector remote control or laptop at a conference.

Mariusz Wilarski stressed the fact that the IT sector’s engagement in creating an office at conceptual level may considerably improve effectiveness of company’s functioning in the future and allows for avoiding numerous design shortcomings. Also such factors as arrangement of work-stands should be consulted with IT experts, which may for instance greatly facilitate use of wireless network.

Architects vs. Developers

The second part of the Seminar was devoted to the issues of architect’s work and finishing office buildings. It was held in form of a discussion, preceded by several speeches. Voices from the audience made this part an arena to exchange difference experiences and opinions.

During  a speech by Marek Dunikowski from DDJM, the conflict that occurs between an investor and architect was particularly highlighted. As the discussion proceeded, the audience came to a conclusion that architects must adapt to a contractor and subcontractors’ budgetary constraints, which hinders investment realisation. Additionally, office blocks are often constructed with consideration for foreign companies, which do not always match the expectations of Polish employees. Moreover, disadvantages of investments in Poland are insufficient number of parking spaces for cars and bikes, the lack of cycle lane and convenient routes connecting office buildings with the city.

Marek Dunikowski noted that financial crisis influences office space market and diagnosed that only savings can heal global situation in the building sector. The panelist believes that simple buildings should be constructed in cheaper localisations. As a watchful observer of the financial market, reckless monetary policy of the European Central Bank (ECB) and additional printing of blank money. According to the architect’s opinion, life on credit is disastrous, because after a while credit facilities will come to an end.

During the discussion, a problem of young architects who have limited possibilities of entering the market was raised. Two possible career paths which may be chosen by graduates became delineated – the possibility of being employed by a huge company or the need to start their own business. One of the participants noted that this tendency leads to considerable fragmentation of the market.

Modular offices and office furniture

Assistant of Andrzej Jaskólski from Allmendinger recommended the properties of modular furniture, which are functional thanks to rounded fasteners (title “Magic ball”).

The seminar was ended with a lecture Krzysztof Ingarden (Ingarden & Ewy). The architekt half-jokingly, half-seriously presented his vision of modular offices (claster offices) – intended for individualists of office boxes, integrated into suburban landscape and in a variety of configurations made ​​in form of market stalls. Ph.D.’s own drawings enriched his presentation.  Krzysztof Ingarden’s wider concept is available in the interview made by e-biurowce.

The Functional Office Seminar 2012 in Poland implicates that change management is a vital element of modern company’s proper functioning. Ability to adapt to new trends in communication is essential for achieving success and improving employee effectiveness. Simultaneously, a serious challenge for market players is economic reality, which requires a number of sacrifices.

Upcoming events:

13th March 2012 Poznań
17th April 2012 Katowice
15th May 2012 Warszawa I
05th June 2012 Wrocław
11th September 2012 Gdańsk
09th October 2012 Łódź
13th November 2012 Łódź

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