The office is increasingly becoming a tool for attracting and retaining valuable employees as well as conveying company identity. But how exactly are local firms using interior design to reach these goals and what new trends are shaping up?

Simona Bazavan

The office environment is changing, and how it is doing so has to do with more profound shifts in the way people live and work, say real estate representatives. The office building concept as we know it is transforming under the influence of new generations, new lifestyles and the new jobs being created, Ovidiu Sandor, the developer behind the EUR 130 million ISHO project in Timisoara, tells BR. “The traditional working environment is being improved and integrated. There already is flexibility and there will be even more when it comes to the actual time spent at the office or the work schedule, which will directly impact the concept of an office building itself,” he says.(…)

All this means that companies are changing their approach to their offices’ interior design when they relocate, while others are opting to upgrade their existing ones to reflect some of these principles.

The objectives clients mostly have in mind when planning a relocation or redesign project are boosting communication and collaboration among various teams, increasing productivity by generating new working processes or accelerating old ones, and raising employee satisfaction with the working environment and the company in general, Diana Calfa, managing partner with architecture and interior design company Morphoza, tells BR. The end game for all that is to increase employee attraction and retention, she adds. “Besides all the benefits strictly related to working processes and productivity, lately employees also see office design as a tool that transmits organizational values, both internally to employees but also externally to clients. Creative office design can also obviously act as a differentiation factor,” she notes.

Open space with a twist

New interior design trends for office spaces are dictated particularly by the needs of Generation Y, for whom the working environment matters considerably, points out Calfa. Be it a coffee shop or reading room at the office, such details can end up making the difference in the retention process.

As they become aware of this, Romanian companies are aligning themselves to international office design trends. “Principles such as flexibility, communication and technological power are thus incorporated into office design projects,” adds the managing partner. All this means that open-space working environments will remain a widespread approach to interior design. “They stem from democratic and collaborative principles to which companies are increasingly committing. Open informal spaces thus eliminate, figuratively and literally, communication barriers between team members. More and more, even meeting rooms and gaming or social kitchens are turning into open and friendly spaces that spur employee creativity, inspire them and boost socializing among them,” reveals Calfa.

Another important trend catching on in Romania as well is hot desking, a practice where an employee no longer has a fixed work station but is encouraged to work from more informal areas, such as meeting rooms and even in relaxation areas such as the cafeteria, adds Calfa. It is a way firms make sure that for their employees, no one day is like any other, she explains.(…)

One example of an innovative project that Morphoza was involved in was designing NTT Data Romania’s office space in Cluj-Napoca. “In this particular case the client wanted an inspiring design that would stimulate its employees’ creativity and innovation capacity. The solution was to turn an entire floor into a spaceship boardroom. We later replicated this ‘into the future’ theme on all the other floors through various elements. Perhaps the most remarkable were two functional robots which were later included in the company’s communication campaign,” she comments.

Looser purse strings

Not only do companies understand the benefits of upgrading their office environment, but they are also willing to loosen the purse strings for such investments. An adequate office design project requires extensive human, financial and time resources, but it still comes at a lower cost than working in a dysfunctional space that causes stress, frustration, lost time and discontented employees, and companies now see that, argues Calfa.(…)

“Allocated budgets vary depending on the company’s relocation or renovation strategy, the available space, how complex the project is and the number of employees. Costs start from EUR 350/sqm and can go beyond EUR 600/sqm,” says Calfa. COS works for both large corporations as well smaller, local companies, its value of projects thus ranging from about EUR 30,000 to well over EUR 1 million, says the company’s managing partner.


Source: Business Review