Many of Poland’s modern office buildings are already experimenting with new ways to use space and keep employees engaged – and the changes they’re adopting today could become commonplace across the sector in the next decade.
With a young, skilled workforce, flexible spaces, high-quality amenities including fitness centres, restaurants and kindergartens, tech-enabled workplaces are set to gain traction as evolving design in Poland sets the direction of office development for other countries across Central and Eastern Europe.
However, change will depend on a range of factors from company size to budget and of course the age of the building itself.
“What Poland has on its side is that many of its buildings went up at the start of the century, making it a relatively young office market,” says Jakub Zieliński, director in JLL Poland’s Workplace Advisory team. “This is more about fine-tuning existing workplaces which are relatively modern, rather than major reconfiguration.”
Change, he adds, is being driven by the country’s labour market which attracts many multinationals in the business services sector, as well as financial and tech industry. Across Poland, the business services centres already accounts for three million square metres of office space, and JLL expects further increases in the near future.
“Many of these firms have young workforces who expect areas where they can collaborate,” Zieliński says. “There’s definitely a focus on basing office layout and design on the task or activity, rather than the sector.”
Here are five ways that offices in Poland are changing:
1. More wellbeing measures
As competition to attract and retain Poland’s skilled office workers increases, offices are looking at how design can create a positive environment that keeps people healthy, engaged and energised.
“This goes beyond simply placing a few plants around the office,” says Zieliński. “Polish office employees are increasingly conscious about their wellbeing and expect that their company will support them in taking care of their health.” Equally, healthcare checks for staff are more commonplace, particularly among large corporations with Polish operations.
2. More desk sharing
At present, only 15 percent of Polish office workers share desk space – which Zieliński says is due in part to a cultural preference for placemaking among staff.
“It’s not unusual to see family photos, plants and postcards at the workstations of staff. But that is changing as firms become less rigid and structured in their office configuration,” he adds.
3. More collaboration spaces
There might be less allocated desk space for each employee as floorplans are redesigned to accommodate informal areas such as breakout zones and kitchens. “The number of desks may be falling, but areas for discussion are rising as people collaborate and interact more.” For example, Coca Cola’s HBC arm recently moved to the Business Garden scheme, a new-build Warsaw office which offers its staff greater scope for collaboration and interaction.
4. Spaces are being redesigned more frequently
Offices are now redesigned around every 5-10 years rather than every 15 years a decade ago. “Companies are changing their layout more quickly than ever before,” says Zieliński “Today’s office projects are opting for flexible uses of space that can be easily and quickly adapted to more fluid business operating models.”
In turn, furniture and fittings need to easily movable such as freestanding pods used as space dividers rather than built in meeting rooms and wifi connectivity levels need to be strong across all areas of the workplace.
5. Smarter, more tech-enabled offices
Features such as meeting room booking, air quality apps and sensor-controlled lighting are becoming more common. “Employees expect that many of the office amenities will be available on their phones,” Zieliński says.
“What’s more, there are major international firms in Poland and their employees toned to be able reach their colleagues from other parts of the world anytime and at any place. Poland is becoming more tech savvy and people are embracing that.”
Like in other European countries, the key challenge for companies going forwards is creating a workplace that meets the changing needs and expectations of a modern workforce.
“The workplace is becoming all about experience,” says Zieliński. “Polish office employees are actively seeking out firms that encourage collaboration and interaction and actively reflect this in their office design.”