Building community in the office

szilvia.varga at March 22, 2019

Five star customer experience at DBH Serviced Offices is not an urban legend. We find it very important that we are not just providing an office space or meeting rooms for our clients, but part of the service we provide a creative socializing area where they can charge up, having their coffees and either can network in friendly or professional fields with each other.

Recently we attended an event organized by OfficeUp, where our colleague Anna Tilless (DBH Serviced Office) took part in a workshop regarding socializing, networking in offices. The program called „Community in the Office. How to build a second home?” that hosted Dr Péter Würschling MRICS Renting Director at JLL, Gusztáv Lovas Managing Director of Decor Floor, Mónika Mantuano Marketing Director at HP, and the moderator of the conversation was Kata Klementz co-founder of Loffice, each of them approaching  from  the perspective of their  own expertise.

How to build a second home?

Just when choosing a new place to live, choosing the office comes with different requirements from each „house mates”. It highly depends on the profile of the company, generations working together and also on numbers of the team. For start-ups full of „Y-generation” members might be wonderful having a co-working, a serviced office or an apartment –office, while over 20 employees a classical serviced office might be a better solution.

Office should be the same level of quality just like our homes

Many of the participants of the workshop debated on the side of office should be like a second home, while others draw a strict line between work and private life. But everyone agreed that while a home should be the place of relaxing and peace, office should be a place of inspiration, matching the high standards of now day’s labour market.

Therefore, is important to examine the networking in office from two different angles: firstly, the physical room and it’s setting itself can separate or unite the community, secondly organized events and taking care of the employees: forms individuals to a community.

Organizational changing brings the shaping of the office spaces with it

During the struggle of finding employees and also keeping them, employer branding takes an important part, just as the well-being and caring for the co-workers such as making the working environment healthier. The structure of working agenda is also changing,  more and more places offer a possibility that the employee can schedule their own time frames, even doing home office one or more days a week.

Due to all the above, the occupation of office fields has changed, fewer people existing at the office at a time, than before. More space becomes available, where we can set up community events or facilities, more than just being a working space.

Office space

At the co-working spaces where usually Y-generation stays, is more important to consider the socializing opportunity at setting up the office.  In a serviced office of small and middle sized businesses, more things are meant to happen separately, so social areas still remain inspirational.

Market trends of office spaces have changed a lot in the past 5-10 years. As for serviced office it was basic to create as many work stations as possible. By now this tendency has changed a lot,  and became very important to have separated spaces  where possible to have more privacy, also to have  furniture at the lobby in case someone needs an alternate working space, for example a call box or a counter where you can stand and work comfortably.

In our serviced offices, the open office areas are rarely functional. Rather the smaller but more private spaces matter: having your own office which can be locked, separated meeting rooms, even to have alternate working spaces and smaller meeting rooms, corners within the community areas, where tenants can have some peace.

From the corporate angle, where only one company’s employees work in the same space, open office can still play a community building role.  More multinational companies stick to open office by rule, providing a possible one or two day’s home office per week.

More participants of the conversations highlighted that they operate in open office but still have a minimal spatial separation between back and front office employees. Thanks to open office operation, many unusual cooperation happened between different functional teams, (for example back office gave lead to sales), just because they have heard each other’s conversations during their daily work.  A participant of the workshop added, that home office makes interactions between the colleagues of the open office very hard, and they did not prefer the opportunity of home office in their own responsibilities.

Where important decisions happen

Kitchen is still the priority area of community events. But more that the daily meals, it can gain other functions. So therefore is very important to have different types of seating and tables, to be set up accordingly, to be inviting for a shorter meeting or conversations. More than this is important to have fresh air and natural light at all times.

Communal dining has an inexplicable magic. Many of the workshop participants believe that it worth holding meetings in the kitchen areas. Some mentioned that they organize weekly meetings during the morning coffee time on purpose.

No well-designed office mean anything without programs

The well-chosen design has a strong brand building force, coming from the story telling sense, which also strengthens the feeling of belonging to the community, even in corporate or client areas.  Creating the base of office mood with the design, we can still increase the community feeling with programs.

On corporate side, team buildings are still the most significant events for creating the community. But many of the workshop participants highlighted that more than the team buildings, more events are initiated privately and outside working hours, for example excursions in the weekends, cooking, board game nights.  We’ve heard a story, that during the refurbishment of the office, the employees changed roles. This experiment brought a big change into the office’s life, the former isolation between blue collar and white collar workers has gone and a real community aroused from the collective work. The employees learnt how to respect each other’s job and role in the every days, which clearly showed up in the results.

More and more common that they create so called relaxing areas within the office space, where co-workers can play or talk, but even to work if someone finds it more convenient.

From our point of view as service providers, community building is very important. One of the bases of our business model is to support our tenants’ growth with operative services.  As they rarely catch up or talk to each other on the corridors, we regularly organize business breakfasts, client events for them, where either the new tenants can introduce themselves, and also, they have the possibility for networking, and get to know each other better. More of these events brought new negotiations between our tenants.

Beside the programs, we put a lots of effort on the human side, rather say this is our super power. Within the last couple years, 4 of our tenants joined us, leaving our competitors, due to the level of their customer service qualities.  No accident that we call our representatives „Customer Care Coordinator”. More than taking care of the reception and assistance of the clients, they put an effort to care about the clients’ well-being in our offices. A small gesture, without any kind of business sense can mean a lot, even a smile goes a long way, when the tenants arrive to the office each morning.

What is OfficeUp?

„Office of the Year” price went to someone for the 9th time at the OfficeUp’s event in February.
The organizers make the event colorful with more and more inspiring programs each year.  They show how the future of office space changes every year with  workshops, conversations,  presentations, design exhibitions, what kind of  demands turn up with new generations , how can any office become the „Office of the Year” .